Thursday, August 7, 2014

Choosing Child Care For Your Twins

When Brandy contacted us and asked if we needed someone to write a post about selecting child care, we were both thrilled.  YES, PLEASE. She put together an amazing post that walks you through every step of the selection process.  This is beneficial for any parent who is looking into some form of child care.  We tend to love our twin theme around these parts but I will be sharing this post with all of my mom friends!

So... pour yourself a cup of coffee (or if you're like me, reheat the same cup for the fourth time) and grab a pen/paper to take notes.  And if you've already decided you will not be needing child care, simply scroll down to look at the adorable pictures of Brandy's family.  Either way, I promise you will not be disappointed!


Deciding how to handle child care looks something like this:

There are so many variables for each family.  Maybe you always wanted to be a stay at home mom, maybe you have family that can help, maybe you have a career that you love, maybe you have a ton of student loan debt, maybe you just don't know where to start.  Whatever your path, there is no "right" answer, but when you have twins, this decision becomes more complicated.  If you find yourself thinking about full time, or even part time care for your twins, this post is for you.

My name is Brandy.  I am an attorney with a full time day job, a 10 year old daughter and 6 month old twins (3 months adjusted age from arriving premature).  My husband, Ryan, is a full time veterinarian.  We married when my 10 year old was 6.  Prior to meeting my wonderful husband, I was a single mom of a toddler and in law school three states away from my family and friends.  To afford daycare during that time, I embraced government assistance.  Sometimes, we just need help.  The Child Care and Development Fund provides assistance to low-income families who need child care due to work, work-related training and/or attending school.  Information is available at

When Ryan and I decided to have a child, I did preliminary daycare research to see what kind of budget we would need to be on.  I made a spreadsheet.  We would be fine.  Until... TWINS!  What follows are some tips I have to offer for the saga of finding child care for twins.

1) START CALLING AROUND SOON!  We found out we were having twins at 8 weeks and I started calling daycare centers at around 12 weeks.  I could not believe they were telling me they would not have a spot for two infants at the same time.  The wait list for one child was long, and they would never hold one spot open for the other to come available.  Meltdown.  New Spreadsheet to include more daycare centers.

These are the columns from my spreadsheet:

Rate per infant
Yearly rate
Sib Discount
# of Children
Phone #

2) DISCOUNTS - Pay special attention to the column titled "Sib Discount."  Many centers would not offer a sibling discount for infants, but some did.  The center we ultimately chose offered 20 % discount off tuition for the second child, including infants.

The column titled "# of Children" is the number of children to teacher ratio.  The standard seems to be 1 teacher to 4 children.  Some centers have more infants (of total children) than others too.  We took this into consideration, as we felt a smaller number of infants would mean more attention for ours.

3) CONSIDER A NANNY - I added nanny information to the spreadsheet to compare to center costs.  The figures were based on going rates for reasonably experienced care providers in our area on sites such as  When you start considering costs for twins, especially if you already have another child, a nanny could potentially be the better financial decision, as well as provide some additional help around the house.  Not to mention you don't have to get your children ready and haul them to and from a center each day.

Nanny @ 45 hrs wk
our house
$675 (week)
$35,100 (annual)
8:00 - 5:00 pm
Nanny @ 36 hrs wk
our house
$540 (week)
$28,080  (annual)
8:00 - 5:00 pm
4 days wk

Additional things to think about with hiring a nanny:

Much like childcare centers, most nannies will expect to be paid the entire year, even if you are taking a week off and will be with your children.  Nannies need vacations too, and sick days.  Don't forget to plan back-up care for these times.

Employer taxes can be a few thousand dollars.  Sites like can help you calculate these and even assist with withholding taxes, for a cost.  To offset those costs, consider a Flexible Spending Account and the Childcare Tax Credit.  More on those later.

Here is the ad I drafted when considering a nanny:

4) TAX CONSIDERATIONS - There are a few ways to get a tax break for child care.  These can get complicated, and the information I provide here is only to alert you to possibilities.  Seek a tax professional for individualized planning.

The Childcare Tax Credit- You may be eligible for a federal tax credit of up to 35% percent of the cost of daycare.  There are limitations and eligibility requirements on this.  My husband and I do not qualify because we file separately, even though we are married.  We file separately because the tax benefit of doing so in relation to our student loans outweighs the benefit of the Childcare Tax Credit.  I did mention this can get complicated.  For more information on this credit, see the website.

Additionally, the expenses qualifying for the computation of this credit must be reduced by the amount of any dependent care benefits provided by your employer that you exclude from gross income. In general, you can exclude up to $5,000 for dependent care benefits received from your employer.  This is done with the Flexible Spending Account.

The Flexible Spending Account-    The Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) allows you to put aside up to $5,000 ($2,500 for married individuals filing separate returns) before taxes to pay for dependent care expenses.  This is only available when an employer offers it.

Some people may be able to use both of these options, but they have limitations when both are claimed, and usually, families will benefit most from one or the other.

These options can change each tax year, so it is good practice to investigate each year what is best for your family.

5) INTERVIEW - This means either interviewing nanny potentials, or going by the daycare centers and talking with the people who work there.  You can find many sample interview questions for potential nannies by looking around online.  Don't forget to check references.  We did this even with a daycare center.  We found other people's experiences with the staff super helpful in making our decision. 

Some of the questions we specifically asked with having twins:
  • Have you cared for multiples before?
  • Can we leave both car seats here at the center since one person will drop off and one will pick up?
  • Do you prefer color coded bottles or labels?  Can we leave them here or do you prefer we take them home each day?
  • What items do we need to provide (sheets, diapers, wipes, bibs, water for formula)?
  • Have you cared for preemies before?

We brought our girls to the daycare center a few times before they actually began to meet the main infant teacher and spend some time at the location.  This helped us emotionally when that first full day came around.

6) PACK IT UP RIGHT - When the time does finally arrive, be prepared.  If you have someone coming to your home, have things organized.  Ideally, you will have spent a few hours with the caretaker (paying them for this time) at your home to show them how you do things and where things are located.  If you are taking your children to a center, here is what we packed for the first day:

  • 2 bibs
  • 2 sets of clothing
  • 2 blankets
  • HUGE box of diapers
  • Bag of wipes
  • Container for wipes
  • 3 bottles for each twin (we color coded, but has great labels too; you can see one in the top right of this picture)
  • 2 color coded pacifiers
  • 2 cans of formula (our center had previous experience with breast-milk fed twins also)
  • 1 wet-bag (for dirty clothes)
  • 1 giant bag (not pictured) to store stuff in at daycare
7) BACK-UP PLAN - The kids and/or the child care provider will get sick.

Our girls got sick the first week of daycare.  We made two trips to urgent care that weekend.  Since Ryan and I had just used up most of our time off for maternity/paternity leave, we had to call his parents (they live two hours away) to come stay with us for 3 days while a cold and a virus ran their course.  Have some plan worked out ahead of time.

8) DON'T DRESS THEM ALIKE - For the sake of the daycare employees and your children, don't dress them alike the first few days, even if they aren't identical.  Twins may have different needs (maybe one has a milk allergy, or one takes a medication or uses a different nipple flow), and the care provider will have enough to think about the first few days without hesitation of which twin is which.  Additionally, if you are at a center, there are teachers who fill in for lunch and other times. 

9) SCHEDULING - Mornings are usually a zoo for anyone with kids.  This is amplified at daycare.  Parents are hustling kids in, breakfast is happening, kids are out of their minds with excitement, and not all teachers have arrived yet.  If you can have your babies fed and diapers dry when you roll into daycare, it helps everyone.  This is easier said than done, especially when you are trying to stretch out that night feeding.
  • you feed at 10:30 p.m., 2:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., this might be ideal for you to get yourself ready and to the daycare with time to spare for the teachers until the next feeding.  However, if you want to stretch the night feeding out to finally get some solid sleep in your life...
  • you feed at 10:30 p.m., 4:30 a.m., and then your babies don't want to eat at 6:00 a.m. and you lose your mind with mathematical gymnastics of what the best time is to feed them.  Not to mention you have to explain to the daycare teacher upon arrival, "Baby A had 2 ounces at 6 a.m. because I fed them prior to that at 4:30 a.m. and Baby B had 1 ounce, so they will be hungry early..."  Aaaaaaargh.
I'm still struggling with this process, but we've tried to basically stick to the first schedule for now, alternating some nights as to which of us does the 2:30 a.m. feeding so the other can get a solid sleep.  We use weekends to test the waters as to how long the girls can go on the overnight stretch.  We have also learned to trust our daycare teacher will not let our girls starve, so if we do only get 1 ounce in at 6 a.m., the girls will let their teacher know when they are hungry.  It's OK!

Our current typical Monday-Friday schedule looks like this (noting that we change for work needs):

2:30 a.m. feeding
6:30 a.m. feeding
7:00 a.m. older daughter gets on the bus (or I will start leaving earlier to take her to school when school starts)
7:30 a.m. Ryan leaves for work
8:15 a.m. I take older daughter to summer school and twins to daycare
9:00 a.m. I get to work
4:30 p.m. Ryan leaves work to pick up the girls (older daughter walks to community center after school near the daycare)
5:15 p.m. I leave work
6:30 p.m. feeding
7:00 p.m. dinner
8:30 p.m. bedtime for all the girls
10:00 p.m. feeding

  • If you can change your job hours to 4 days a week, maybe a daycare provider will allow a 4 day a week plan (this is more likely with an in-home provider than a center for the coveted infant spots).
  • If you and your spouse can work opposite shifts and have a family member or part-time helper, consider it.
  • Can you work a day or two at home each week and have some help?
  • Can you reduce your hours at work and stay in the workforce, but need less daycare expense?
This is from a local daycare center. 
  • Ensure that you work with your spouse to talk about what your work week looks like for late meetings, longer commute days, and travel commitments.  Work with each other as to who is dropping kids off and picking them up.  Don't forget to make sure you know who it is!

  • No matter who you have care for your children, they will never be you.  They will have a different approach to many things.  This is what makes the world diverse and fun.  Embrace that they are different.  If they endanger your child, find an exit strategy and never look back; if they just get on your nerves, weigh the benefits of your current situation versus change.
  • Remember, remember, remember, this is TEMPORARY.  Your children will not be in this stage for long.  Whether you feel stuck at home, stuck at work, or stuck in a budget, things will change.
There are going to be things one family values over another, and there are so many factors to consider in budgeting and deciding on child care, its impossible to account for all of them in a general list.  For most major decisions in my life, I start by figuring out what it is I really want.  Then, I find a way to make it happen (within reason).  I hope something here is useful to you, and I still love hearing how other people manage their twin life.


Thanks again, Brandy!  If you have questions for Brandy, CLICK HERE to email her!

Don't forget, today is the LAST DAY to enter our essential oils giveaway!  CLICK HERE to enter!

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    1. This is awesome! Wish I would have read it before we chose a daycare for our twins last year, but thankfully I had gotten a lot of the same tips from friends.

    2. It seems like there are a lot of things that would be difficult to do with twins. That is why I'm happy that I'm only having one child (hopefully!) next month. I can't imagine having to find child care for two kids. After all, I'm pretty stressed out just finding care for my little boy. I really like our tip to have your kid read with a fresh diaper when you drop them off, though. I think that can apply to everyone that has children at a day care.