Daycare Costs More Than I Would Be Making At Work, So I Just Let My Children Loose In The Woods

As a mother, it can be hard to balance career and family. My husband and I both work, and we have small children at home. We need the money that our combined income provides, but childcare costs more per week than I make at my job. We paid for it for a while so that I could continue my career, but after a certain point it just didn’t make sense. There had to be a better way. That’s when we sat down and made the hard choice that instead of paying for daycare, we would just let our children loose in the woods during working hours.


What’s great is that there is a forest that’s basically right on my way to work, and I never noticed it before. Isn’t that crazy? Now, every day at 7am, Marty heads to the bank, and I pack up Lila (age six) and Caleb (age four), jam some string cheese in their pockets, and leave them standing there at the edge of the dark forest. In the evenings, I come back and pick them up. I can’t believe how perfectly this has worked for us! I get to keep my job, my kids get 8.5 hours of fresh air, and the whole thing is free!


Yes, it’s a little cold right now. But it’s okay, because Marty taught the kids how to stay warm by making a snow cave. He’s such a great dad! The kids know that if they get cold, all they need to do is dig a massive hole in the ground and burrow in and just wait it out until mommy comes back in two to six hours.


Parents often say that daycare is an important educational building block for children, but I challenge them to think of a way in which a dark forest isn’t a learning opportunity. After all—if they don’t learn how to survive, there are dire consequences!


Most kids these days are so glued to their devices, they would never even know that it’s possible to make a fire out of two sticks, or eat beetles for a snack, much less have a real and pressing need to do so. My kids are learning things that they would never learn in a traditional daycare and I am able to stay at my job so we can continue to afford the mortgage on our house. It’s a win for everyone.



Marty and I are part of the first generation in decades to do worse financially than our parents. So by the time Lila and Caleb are grown, they’re going to be doing much, much worse than we are now. These are skills they will need. Personally, I think it’s great that they’re getting a head start now. Also we had basically no other option because daycare costs more than our mortgage. We make do!


I understand that dropping off your children at the edge of the woods isn’t for everyone. But for us, it allows us to meet our financial responsibilities while still technically having children. And it’s working for our family. At least until the bears wake up.