Tracy and I have a lot in common; we both work, are moms of two, and live in the same neighborhood. One thing that we don’t have in common is our children’s daycare situation. Tracy has chosen daycare, and I have chosen to have in-home care. We thought it might be beneficial to lay out the pro’s and con’s of each to help those new mom’s who might need to make this decision soon or if you’re considering a change in your current set up.
Having someone come to my house is wonderful. Your child gets to stay at his or her house everyday, take naps in the crib she is familiar with and play with her favorite toys. As a working mom, the mornings are much easier as I don’t have to pack up Zoe and Annie’s stuff and load them in the car. Since I am rarely on time, this is a huge plus for me. Plus with my husband traveling as much as he does, it would be really hard to have to do drop-off and pick-up every day. This way my daycare comes to me. My mother-in-law watches the girls and I also have a babysitter who fills in when I need back-up
Some of the potential downsides include the lack of interaction with other children. We are lucky because my babysitter has a child the same age as Zoe, so this has not been a problem. She also attends preschool three mornings a week which gives her plenty of structure and fun time with other children.
In-home care can be much more expensive than daycare if you choose a nanny. However, there are options that can allow you to have a nanny if you are trying to manage cost. When I was pregnant, a friend of mine and I decided that we would share a nanny. The plan was to have the nanny come to my house for a week and then my friend’s house the next and share the cost. My friend ended up sharing a nanny with someone on her street and it worked out perfectly for them. This is a wise choice once you have more than one child, the cost of a nanny does not double like most daycares do, so it can become more affordable the more kids you have.
Another benefit of a nanny is the ability to offer a fixed pay or hourly. Hourly pay is a good option for mom’s who work part-time or have some help from relatives and need “fill-in” care.
If you’re in the market for a nanny, check out Jen P’s previous posts: Hunt for the Perfect Nanny Part 1, Hunt for the Perfect Nanny Part 2, and Hunt for the Perfect Nanny What You Need to Ask.
We never really considered a nanny because I always had it in my head that it was too expensive for just one child. Not that daycare is cheap by any means (especially now that we will be paying for two!), but the daycare route we went … and have been very happy with our decision. Jake is 4 now so his day care is actually more of a preschool. The things they do day to day simply amaze me! He has access to so many more opportunities and resources than I would be able to provide for him if it was just me. The social interaction is another huge plus – he loves his friends and teachers and has wonderful stories to tell us about nightly. The other huge bonus for my husband and I is that he is close to us during the day when we are at work. This is gives us the opportunity to go have lunch with him, join in on some of the cool activities they do, enjoy parent socials, or be close by if he gets sick or hurt during the day. Another big advantage is if your teacher is out sick or wants to take a vacation, you are not left in a lurch.
One of the downsides of daycare is that kids are exposed to more germs and you have to find alternate arrangements if your child then gets sick. We talked about this in a previous post, Sick Days for Your Kids. Also, it is often hard to get in to the good ones – a lot of times there are extensive waiting lists – so get your name added as soon as you know you need daycare. Most places will not let you get on the list until you are officially pregnant, sometimes even requiring a doctor’s note. And plan to pay an application fee – anywhere from $30 to $75 per daycare application.
One last thing to consider – and this can be a pro as well as a con. Daycares have lots of rules they have to follow. And the higher the daycare rating, the more strict the rules. This ranges anywhere from the amount of paperwork you have to fill out and the amount of time the children spend outside to policies on dispensing medication and the kind of sunscreen you can bring for reapplication throughout the day. These rules and regulations are primarily driven by the state and the daycare rating system (what makes a 5-star daycare 5 stars) and are mostly in place to help maintain the safety and well being of your child (pro) but can also be extremely frustrating at times (con).
If you are looking for a daycare, check out Jen B’s post from January, How to Find a Good Daycare in Charlotte.
Whichever route you decide to take, be sure that it works for you. Having someone else care for your child is hard enough – you want to make sure you’re comfortable with your choice. As always, we’ve shared our own unique experiences with each option of child care. Please share your experiences with nannies or daycares or other means of child care all together.
You both have found the situations that work best for you.
I chose to go the daycare route mainly because I was uncomfortable having someone in my home when I am not there. I like my son’s daycare and the structure of the programs; however, he has been going for about 3 weeks and just came home with his first daycare cold already!
I prefer preschool/daycare. We had a in home caretaker for about 6 months (we were on a waitlist for a preschool). When my son got in the preschool he totally flourished by having the structure, teachers and other students. He seems much happier being around peers and having so much variety in his day that couldn’t be given to him in a home environment.
I work part-time, about 30 hours per week and we have found a nanny and pre-school to be the best option for us. We have 4 children and day care would be very expensive, plus I don’t need 40 hours of childcare and most daycares charge only for full time. We have used college students, and the ones studying to be teachers have been the best. We have been lucky in finding great nannies. Our current nanny, Jodi has been with us almost 2 years and the kids love her. Jennifer
We find the Nanny to be the best situation for us. As the mother of twins, having a Nanny costs about the same as sending two children to daycare, actually it might be more affordable. There are also the benefits of the Nanny being there when the kids are sick (which is less b/c they are not around so many germs), and she spends more one on one time with them, where a daycare there are numerous kids to tend with. My girls also get extremely healthy meals, and I can pick the menu. Daycare has one menu for most of the kids. We get to sample more organic meals and this makes for a very happy Mommy and Baby. I’m also a huge believer by the Nanny coming to my home it saves me gas money by me not driving to and from daycare. I have a dear friend who has twins in daycare and she is at the doctor at least twice a month, which is co-pays and medicines to purchase. It seems her twins are always picking up some bug. She is also driving an extra five miles a day to drop the babies off. When you have a Nanny your children can still have interaction with other kids through playdates and park visits, so this should never hinder your decision. I’ve also seen it brought up about people not feeling comfortable with having a “Stranger” in your home. First and foremost our Nanny is no more of a stranger than the person you would drop your kids off with at Daycare. We did extensive background checks on our Nanny. I didn’t feel comfortable taking my kids to a daycare where people are coming in and out picking up kids, and employees could come and go. I also felt my children would be safer in our home. I grew up in Daycare, so I felt I could honestly make a well informed decision that would be best for my family. Also by having a Nanny in the home, I have to admit so much is done around that house that leaves time for me to spend with my kids. When I arrive home the dinner is cooked, kitchen cleaned, and the rest of the house has always been picked up. We even interviewed numerous centers but weighed the pros and cons a Nanny seemed to be the best route for our family.
I think I could go either way. For now, our baby is in one of the best day cares in Charlotte and we are very happy with everything so far. Our baby eats well, she is always happy coming home, she has lots of learning and playing activities during the day, she interacts with other kids, she likes her teachers, (we usually stop by at different times during the week,etc, I just have to say that my baby does get sick once amonth, that’s one of the down sides of the day care.We all have to do whatever is more convinient for ourselves:)
I love this column! Thank you both for your teriffic insights. As an employment attorney, I wanted to clarify one thing in your posting. It is probably one of the biggest misconceptions that folks have, but employees that work in your home are generally not "exempt" from the wage and hour laws that require you to keep track of hours and pay "time and a half" for hours worked over 40. Just something to keep in mind if you use a nanny more than 40 hours a week. If you're under 40 hours, the "guaranteed weekly wage" method typically permits you to pay a set "salary" to compensate for the hours worked. Moreover, if you pay a nanny more than $1,600 a year, you're technically on the hook for medicare and social security. Finally, NC requires yo to pay into the unemployment insurance fund for your domestic employees, and you also might want to have workers' comp for them. WHEW! The nanny tax issue is one reason why I switched to day care! The IRS provides a good publication on this, see Consult IRS publications 926 and 15, known as Circular E. Moreover because it is a huge pain in the &*#$!, there are numerous companies in place that specialize in computing all of this for you. Of course, if you're not up for a high political appointment (remember Zoe Baird), are not at high risk for being audited, and don't have a nanny who turns on you and reports this (unlikely since a nanny being paid under the table has little incentive to report and pay her share of the taxes)… you can just pretend you never read this and return to a blissful state of naïveté. 🙂
WOW Don’t you think the above is a little harsh. Also, if it’s an attorney and they are given TRUE Facts then leave a name. I consulted with an attorney before hiring a Nanny and we did everything correctly. We were also still saving money. I also have a full-time Accountant and we did everything legally. I think it is extremely insulting to automatically think b/c someone has a Nanny they are “Paying them under the table”. I think the posting above is from someone who is extremely bias to Daycares. I also thought the last sentence was insulting to people in general. I don’t think it would come from an attorney. It almost hurt to read that posting. I just want the Moms who have Nannies and read this Blog not to let any of that scare you. Just make sure you consult with your Financial Advisor or cover all your bases. Nannies can be a great way to have someone care for your children and be in the Home. However Daycares are also another Great Option. Whichever option you pick it will be the best choice for your family.
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