Childcare is long hours, it's not glamorous, but it’s rewarding. Daycare providers burn out because getting parents to pay for childcare is a struggle.

Can’t I Just Pay for Childcare Later?

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Is your childcare bill a priority for you? Do you pay for childcare first, or do you see it as an afterthought? Daycare providers can get burned out when running a home daycare when getting parents to pay for childcare is a struggle.

scissors and dollars on the table

Childcare is a super hard job. We work an average of 50 hours a week. We work really hard. It’s not glamorous at all, but it’s very rewarding. Time and time again I see childcare providers burn out because parents are hard to work with.

I have THE BEST daycare parents, I really do. I don’t have to ask anyone to pay me, they make a point to remember to do it. They each make me feel super appreciated in their own way. I know I am loved and I know I am respected. 

I have not always been so fortunate. Forgetting to pay for childcare once in a while is understandable, but there are people who chronically pay late and they don’t care. People think it should be fine, it’s not that big of a deal.

money and scissors

Paying for childcare should be your first priority

Quality childcare is hard to come by and if you have it, you are blessed. The person you have trusted to care for your child or children is not doing it as a hobby, they do it for a living. When I get paid from my business, I pay my bills just like you do. Would you want to beg your boss for your paycheck every week, or do you like it being ready on payday?

You’re not going to be able to work for your company well if you lose your childcare because you wouldn’t pay on time. Looking for new childcare is a big deal. It takes time and it’s stressful to find the right fit.

Childcare payments

Every day I see articles about how childcare is more expensive than college or hear people say, I think I’ll watch kids and make a ton of money. It’s expensive to do childcare. Most of what I make goes back into the business.

Personally, I don’t even make anywhere near minimum wage. I do the job because I feel like it’s my calling, not because I’m too dumb to do anything else or because I’m getting rich.

Childcare is NOT more expensive than college. Students attend college for a few hours a day, children attend childcare for an average of 10 hours a day.

College tuition does not pay for love, attention, supervision, or any of the other myriad of things that childcare provides. We are even physically supporting your child.

College tuition does not pay for any one on one attention, meals cooked, or other services such as diapers, potty training, boo boo kissing, etc. These articles and comments make me so irritated.

Your provider has a lot of regulations to follow and some of those regulations cost a lot of money. Having all of the equipment and paperwork to run the business takes a ton of time, money and effort. Your provider LOVES your child and puts their heart into the job.

I do understand that childcare is a big percentage of your income. And I know that it costs a lot. I know that it’s hard to pay for childcare for most people. I totally get that, I can relate. Guess what? When my daughter was little I had to pay for childcare myself for a few years and it was tough.

No one is saying it’s not a big expense, but when I chose to have my daughter, I chose to pay for the expenses of raising her. I really felt like my provider earned more than her money. I scrimped and struggled every week to pay her but I WANTED to pay her and made sure I did. She was a lifesaver for me.

pile of money to pay for childcare

Daycare salaries

When you decide to take my paycheck on vacation and catch me up later, I have to pay my bills later. Guess what happens when I pay my bills late? Late fees!

If I have to pay late fees for my bills, I have to pay more to run my daycare and I’m losing money right and left. I haven’t had anyone pay for childcare chronically late in years, but I remember how hard it was to stay financially afloat when that happened.

Do you know what happened to me? One time, years ago, my husband’s brother got into a serious car accident. He pulled out on the highway in Tulsa and someone smashed into the side of him. His car was totaled. When I saw it, I was perplexed by how he lived through it.

Miraculously, he was not injured beyond having glass cuts all over his body. No broken bones, he walked away. He was young at the time, and we ran over there to check in on him.

I asked him if he wanted to get something to eat and he did. We had to take him to A & W and use my LAST $11 to buy our meal because we could not afford a meal for him at a restaurant. I had 5 daycare families and NONE of them had paid me that week. If you think your check won’t matter, think again. It stinks being put off until later.

If your childcare charges late fees, you shouldn’t begrudge that either. They earned them by putting up with your late-paying shenanigans.

If you went to work on payday and your boss said, hey, can I pay you next week, how would you feel? I don’t think you would want to work for them. It’s HUMILIATING to beg for your paycheck. Seriously, when I have had to do it, I felt like I was totally worthless.

I work hard for my money and I’m super glad I don’t have to beg anyone for my paychecks these days. My parents respect my business and appreciate what I do for them.

When I had people who wouldn’t pay on time, I felt so unappreciated and like the hard work I was doing was not worth anything to anyone. I know it was. I know it was important to the kids.

If you don’t pay for your electricity, what happens? You don’t have electricity. If you don’t pay your car or house payment, what happens? You don’t have a car or house. If you don’t think it’s important to pay for childcare, you may not have childcare. Your childcare should be your first bill to pay.

Big companies don’t take much of a hit if you pay your $100 electric bill late, but your childcare provider, hair stylist, or other small business owners may not be able to buy gas to go take care of their hurt family member when you don’t pay them. They may not be able to afford school pictures for their child or FOOD for them because you didn’t pay.

We depend on our income just like you do and when it’s not there, it really puts us in a bind. We don’t make huge salaries to begin with. Obviously, we are okay with not being rich or we wouldn’t be doing childcare, but we do need the money we earn to live.

It’s the same as if you make a nail appointment and then you don’t show up, your nail technician has saved that appointment for you and doesn’t get paid because there is not someone else waiting there to pay them. They just lose their income.

Childcare providers charge for your spot whether you are there are not for that reason. We can’t just not feed our families every time your child is sick or you decide to take a trip. It’s a business, not a hobby.

Remember that when you are dealing with how people make a living. Running a small business depends on having great clients like I have. If you are not being a great client to your childcare provider, think about how you would enjoy working in a place where your paycheck was late or you had to beg for it. Not fun.

Your childcare provider is waiting for you to arrive, ready for your child with her best foot forward to care for them the best way she can. Remember to appreciate that by having your money ready and making it a priority to treat her (or him) that way too.

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  1. I feel this so hard. I have not been paid for one year of personal childcare after begging for months and it has me so low I can’t function. I learned my lesson about childcare for friends and I no longer watch for the family but I am still owed. Does anyone know what I can do to be compensated for my work? I am desperate.

    1. The only thing I know of is small claims court. You can take the proof you have and take them to court to get your money. They will have to pay the court fees if you win, and if you have records showing they didn’t pay, you should win. I’m so sorry this has happened to you. 🙁

  2. I am a childcare provider and I am struggling with this right now. My car payment is due and one of my daycare parents have been procrastinating to pay. Im having to ask them every day if they have the money. So humiliating to be begging for money on a daily basis because I’m so worried about my car payment not getting paid. Mom showed up last night to pick up her child with no intention on giving me anything, then when I asked for the 3rd time she says oh no I forgot to go to the bank. Tells me she will go right now, then comes back with only a portion of her bill. The hard thing is, that my husband and I saw her 2 days ago when the bill was due at the store buying a brand new TV. I just feel like paying her childcare bill is not a priority.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear you are going through this. I can totally relate because I have been there many times. It’s important to take the personal part out of it. She owes the money. It doesn’t matter that your car payment is due, she owes the money, all business. If she didn’t pay her electric bill she wouldn’t have service, if you can muster up the courage, tell her that. I know it’s hard. But she’s really taking advantage of you and she shouldn’t be. It’s really frustrating!

  3. Thank you for this article. After 35 years of caring for children I’ve seldom had this problem until lately. So frustrating. So much so that I will be forced to close by January. I’m 60 and hope I can find some kind of work other than childcare before I become homeless. It is what it is.

    1. I am so sorry you’re going through that. I can relate, because I have been through it. I hope you will be able to figure out a solution with your parents so you can continue care or that you find a great job you can do instead. 🙁

  4. Love you post, I’m in that situation today, going to write the letter tomorrow, children are lovely, but I’m sick of having to beg each week for my money, and then she doesn’t even pay the full balance… not a happy bunny

  5. Thank you for your kind words. I always appreciated you and your promptness in paying me. I know that it was very difficult for you at times. Many times in my career of childcare I was made to feel like the low man on the totem pole with parents disrespecting me both in words and in having to pay for their childcare. Many felt they shouldn’t have to pay for days that their child didn’t come. Never mind that I was counting on that money to pay my bills. This was well written and I am sure what many childcare providers would like to say.

  6. Although I’m not a child care provider, I can certainly relate. People always want to get out of paying for those services. Thanks for speaking up!

  7. Very well stated. After 23 years in this business, I have not received a full paycheck in almost a year. This really hit home.

  8. Great article, more than 50% of my income goes on childcare because I have 3 little children but they are the first people that I pay on my payday. I pay them both 2 weeks in advance because without them I won’t have my job either. Plus I don’t want to disrespect them or embarass them by putting them in the position of having to ask for money.