I don't have any kids but I have dogs/cats that are like my kids
We live in an expensive area as well (DC area) and the current plan is for me to go through my pre-reqs, then quit my job to get a BSN and possibly do NP part time. Although I may be rethinking that and try to do BSN part time and then work on NP full time. Either way, at some point, I'm going to be quitting and going to school full time.
At the moment, our plan is to save as much money as humanely possible. We may take loans and if so, I'm going to look into either the NHSC (national health service corps) scholarship
or if that doesn't happen, look at their loan forgiveness. Luckily, living in the DC area with fairly close proximity to Baltimore, there are quite a few areas that would qualify as under served and one of my goals going into nursing is to serve under served areas, it fits within my goals. We've also considered moving and New Mexico is one of our primary interests which also has many under served areas but schools there prefer NM residents so we'd have to move prior and hope that I'd get accepted.
One thing we've started doing is putting more money into my husbands 401k and either way if it doesn't happen, we can take a loan against his 401k that would need to be repaid in 5 years. If we don't go that route, then no harm done as he'll just have more money in his 401k.
So my advice is try laying out your finances and see what you can afford. One thing that surprised me though is between taxes, 401k and various other contributions, my take home salary isn't as much as I thought and we don't live paycheck to paycheck. It'd just mean that we couldn't save as much money as we do.