I remember dropping my son off at daycare on the very first day. He was three months old, and my mind was flooded with fear and guilt. What if he’s scared and doesn’t know where I am? What if he needs me? What if he cries and is inconsolable and they don’t know what to do? What if? What if? What if?

That was the first of many days I have left, now that my two children are in the care of someone else. Carter (2) and Conley (6 months) have since stayed in daycare. They’ve stayed with nannies, babysitters, and family members. It seems when it comes to childcare, my husband and I have sampled almost every option available!

Certainly, leaving your children (translation: your whole world!) in the care of someone else is one of the most significant and difficult decisions you’ll make in your life. But you don’t have to choose the most expensive option. You can have quality child care while saving money.

And in many cases, you can maximize your efforts at work and make even more money. Here are five ways to do that—

1. Consider all your options.


A post shared by Motherly (@mother.ly) on

Daycare is the traditional choice for many families.

But when you look at all your options, you might find a better solution for your family and situation.

For example, can you work from home part-time and put your kids in a Mother’s Day Out program? Is there a childcare program at your church? Is there a reliable homeschooled student in your community who is available to watch your kids a couple of days a week? When you get creative and explore other solutions, you might find something that is not only better, but cheaper too!

2. Look at your total cost.

Many people assume that having a family nanny is more expensive than paying for daycare, so they don’t even consider it. When my first son was in daycare, it was $400 per week. Two children, with the 10% second child discount, would have been $760 per week. That comes out to be $19 per hour. Most nannies in Nashville charge between $10-20 per hour, so it was actually more affordable to hire a family nanny for our two boys.

Consider your total cost to choose the best and most affordable option for you.

3. Value your time.


A post shared by Motherly (@mother.ly) on

In addition to cost, you also need to consider your time.

For example, let’s say daycare is $200 per week, and you find a nanny-share situation with another family who will bring their child to your house. Your part would be $225 per week. Your first reaction might be to go with daycare, but think about your time involved. In order to get your kids ready for daycare, you’ve got to pack, drive them there, park, sign them in, and put their things away. Later you have to drive back, park, go in and gather their things, drive them back home, unpack their things—and do the whole thing again the next day.

When you value your time, you might realize that the time you’ll save is worth an extra $5 per day!

4. Find ways to make more money.

When you find a dependable and affordable childcare situation, you can make even more money by starting a side business.

We live in a side-gig economy where turning your hobby into a business is easier than ever before.

That’s exactly why I wrote my book, Business Boutique: A Woman’s Guide for Making Money Doing What She Loves. If you want to make extra money on the side and turn your ideas into income, you can! No need to push off that Disney vacation to next year, because when you’ve got the cash, things can happen fast!

5. Shake the guilt.


A post shared by Motherly (@mother.ly) on

As working moms, it’s easy to focus on what we are leaving behind instead of the importance of what we’re going to.

If we’re present in one place, we feel guilty for being absent in another.

But mom guilt will keep you from enjoying your kids, your work, and your life! That’s why regardless of the childcare or work choices you make, I want you to shake the guilt.

I love what my friend Tony says, “I’m always driving to somewhere that I love. When I’m driving to work, I’m driving to somewhere that I love. When I drive home, I am driving to somewhere that I love.”

It’s the difference of looking through the windshield of where you’re going instead of the rearview mirror of what you’re momentarily leaving behind. Wherever you are, be there. After all, you don’t have a work life and a home life. You just have one life. What matters is that you’re present for it!