I belong to a working mothers group and one of the big topics of conversations for us is childcare. If you are a working mother, no doubt you’ve had to wrestle with this issue at some point. Do you hire a nanny or put your bambino in daycare? I’ve fretted over many decisions in my life but choosing childcare for D2 had to be one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in a long time. I live in the South where many women quit their jobs to stay home after giving birth. I had no desire to be a SAHM nor was it really a financial option for me. No one choice is better than the other and each has its pros and cons; and no matter what you decide, it’s not a referendum on your parenting skills. It basically comes down to economics: hiring a nanny is more expensive than putting your child in a daycare. To start, I recommend crunching the numbers to figure out what kind of budget you have. In my part of the country, full-time nanny salaries run $450 to $650 per week (not including her taxes, which will be the topic of another post) while childcare center tuition will run about $800 per month for an infant. Understanding the budget you have available each month for childcare and considering the pros and cons of each option will help guide your decision.
Daycare Pros and Cons
In a childcare center, your tyke will have the benefit of socializing with different children and will learn how to adjust to being cared for by a number of caring adults. She will be exposed to a wide-variety of developmental activities such as baby sign, counting, learning shapes and colors, reading skills, and the like. Childcare is very affordable and can be a good longer-term option until she is ready for school. Finally, children in daycare often have an easier time transitioning to pre-school because they have already been exposed to early academic concepts. On the flip side, getting your child into a good daycare can be very challenging as many of the best centers have long waiting lists or a lottery admissions system. If you live in a big city, this is especially the case. Children in daycare tend to get sick more often; ask any parent with a child in daycare and they will tell you about the numerous ear infections and colds you will have to deal with on an ongoing basis. Finally, if your little one is an infant, she may not get as much individual attention as if she was at home with a single caregiver.
Nanny Pros and Cons
The benefit to a nanny is your child is cared for in your own home by a single care giver. With the right nanny, your little one will receive lots of the individual attention so critical to her early development. And unlike daycare, your child is much less likely to develop colds and ear infections. Most nannies become part of the family and you will soon find that your child will come to love her. This bond is tremendous. You will also find that a nanny can be a huge help to a working mom. While she shouldn’t be confused with a housekeeper, it is perfectly appropriate to expect her to prepare your child’s meals, do her laundry and keep her room tidy.
On the down side, you are going to need to do your homework to ensure you find someone you can trust and who shares your values. The reality is your nanny will likely spend as much or more time with your child than either you or your husband. Thus, she should share your views on childrearing, discipline and be committed to ensuring your child is doing developmentally appropriate activities throughout the day. A nanny becomes part of your family and she will learn all about you, your spouse and your family’s habits and idiosyncracies. You need to trust that she will respect your family’s privacy.
Dr. D and I went the nanny route and have been thrilled with D2’s nanny, Eve. She’s conscientious, caring and very organized. Most importantly, D2 adores her and each day I know I can go to work confident that my little guy is well-cared for. We are truly fortunate to have found Eve and she’s such a part of our family now that I cannot imagine not having her around.
Remember, no one option is better than the other and your child can thrive in either setting. It comes down to your budget and personal preference. What’s your child care story? What would you advise other mothers who are considering their options?
Thank you for giving a neutral take on the pros and cons of choosing a daycare or nanny. I’m in a unique situation where I own the child care center that my 11 month old attends, so I don’t know what it’s like to have to make the decision between a child care center or a nanny. Honestly, I think I would be too afraid to have a nanny because I would probably be jealous of the time that my little one would spend with the nanny. I knew that a child care facility would be the choice for me way before I was ever pregnant, but that’s probably because I was originally a public school teacher. I view my child care facility as a little version of school. I love the academic and social aspects of my little one being in child care, but I must admit that it gets really annoying and frustrating that she gets sick so often.
I think you are not alone in feeling jealous about the time your child would spend with a nanny. I think this is a common anxiety for all mothers. In my humble view, children have deep reserves of love (much more so than adults) and so their love and affection for a nanny I don’t think in any way compromises their love for you. That said, I do feel pangs when I know that Eve has witnessed many of D2’s “firsts” before I have. And I do sometimes ask myself “Did I make the right choice?” Then I see how much he has developed and what a happy little guy he is. As moms, it’s up to us to make the choice that’s right for us.