The choice between daycare, nanny or home can be tough!
The time you feared has come: gotta get back to work. Believe me, I know! It’s tough. Not only because the few hours of sleep make the thought of working as appealing as a basket of rotten eggs, but also because you have to figure out who you’re going to confide in taking care of your baby. So here we are, trying to choose between daycare, nanny or home. “Should I quit my job and become a stay at home mom?” is one of the most common questions. It’s not easy, I know! There are several key factors that you’ll need to consider and it’s important that you keep in mind all the the pros and cons.
I personally always go with the good ol’ half way so I eventually chose to put my son in at-home daycare. But I’ll tell you this story (and why I think it’s the best choice I’ve ever made) in another article.
But first of all let me specify that I’m not a professional educator, just a mama who shares her own experience, with the add on of some surveys and research. My intent is not to replace specialized educators or 20 years-old experienced nannies. So take everything you read here as personal considerations that I hope will help you make the best choice for yours and your baby’s needs, okay?
Great! Let’s start with the 3 most common options: daycare, nanny or home. There are other options such as grandparents for example, but since my blog is mostly (not exclusively) for moms who live abroad, grand parents are often too distant. Unless your spouse is from where you live and your in laws live close, clearly. In this case, keep in mind the same pros and cons of a nanny (we’ll see them shortly) adding zero cost (besides some gratitude gifts here and there), lots of love for your baby, but also the risk to be a little spoiled or, worst case scenario, disagreements on how to raise the kid.
How to choose the best option for your child
When it come about choosing between daycare, nanny or home, I first suggest to keep in mind these key factors:
- your baby’s happiness. Observe in which situation she feels more comfortable in and has more chances to grow healthy and develop her skills
- your financial situation and your time availability
- other possible special conditions, such as need of specific attention or other
- which values are more important for you, such as cognitive learning process, education, affection for the teacher/nanny, amount of dedication your baby will get or, ultimately, a mix of everything
Even if these things are not completely clear for you now, you can come back to them while we go through all the pros and cons.
So let’s start with the first option, or at least the first I’d consider if I could afford it.
Isn’t the nanny a marvelous thing? Always remembered not just as a babysitter, but as a member of the family who taught them how to grow up and face life. A mix between a mom and a grandma with all her rules, but also the delicious food, cuddling and playtime.
Too bad you need to be able to afford her. If your intention is to go back to work full time, keep in account that having someone taking care of your baby full time will cost you good money. A similar but less expensive option could be an au pair, especially if she speaks a foreign language and can teach that language to your child. That would be a great plus, right? If you’d like to know more about this topic, you can read my article on how to raise bilingual kids.
The pro of having a nanny:
- All attentions go to your baby’s needs;
- Your kid will grow in her own home environment where she already feels comfortable and, if you have a back yard or a park close to home, she’ll have the chance to spend more time outdoor.
- more flexible hours
- less contact with other kids = equal = less sickness
- it’ll establish a long term and way deeper relationship than any relationship your child could possibly have with one of her school teachers.
- If for any reason, you nanny takes a day off you won’t have to pay her for those hours
- The chance to teach your kid a second language when she’s still a baby
Cons of having a nanny:
- As mentioned earlier, the cost is pretty high and definitely the first of the list
- less socialization with other kids of her age (it’s also true though that up to 2 years old is not essential)
- the home environment is reassuring, but it’s also repetitive and limited after a while. A good nanny will know how to create an activities/play room and change it accordingly with her needs. This way your child will feel like she’s walking into a different room and will have the chance to show curiosity and to explore (or destroy it more likely:)). But this is not always so easy to do
- If don’t have a back yard or a park close to home, outdoor time may be very limited or you have to trust your nanny enough to let her drive your child to the park.
- Nanny gets sick = equal= the end of the world. Remember that you’re relying on one single person and she’s a human being. So put in account that sometimes you’ll have to take days off to stay home with your kid while she gets better.
This short list should be good enough for you to determine if it’s a valid option for you or not.
Let’s see the second option.
I know, staying away from your baby is harder than what you thought it would be. The idea of quitting your job to stay at home with her seems to grow inside your brain like a virus and you can’t stop thinking about it. A thousand percent understandable! But for now take a deep breath and let’s see together all the pros and cons, ok?
Pros of staying home:
- just like for the nanny, the home environment and less sickness are to not underestimate
- less sickness means less medical expenses in pediatrician and medicines and also more nighttime sleep for the whole family (priceless, right?)
- the chance to personally take care of your child. After all, you didn’t give birth to her to eventually give her up to someone else, right? You might want to enjoy this very short time in which she’s just a baby
- you save a lot of money
- If you’re breastfeeding, it makes it way easier on you concerning pumping milk, labeling it, freezing it and so on. Not to mention that locking yourself in your workplace bathroom for 30 minutes every 2 or 3 hours is kinda awkward. Trust me, been there done that.
- Last, but not least, your baby’s joy in knowing that she can spend all her time with mama.
Unfortunately, believe it or not, there are also some cons:
- Do not underestimate the exhaustion that this choice implicates, especially if you’re breastfeeding. It really consumes your energy and when the time comes to make up new games, you wish you could just take a nap. An extra person would really help with this.
- For how inviting the idea to be with your baby might be, after a while you’ll miss having time for yourself or at least BY yourself and you’ll miss interacting with other adults. The renowned cabin fever is unforgiving. You’ll feel like all you do is changing diapers and the idea of going back to work might become suddenly tempting. This doesn’t happen to everyone though.
- If on one side you save money, on the other you also don’t make any. My advice is to compare what you’d spend with the other options and how much you’re salary or earning would be. If your pay is equal or less than the daycare or the nanny cost, then I’d say it’s not worth to go to work only to spend all your money on childcare. In that case it’s better if you take care of your little one, right? Or you can always choose to work from home. And that made a huge difference for me.
- Zero social interaction for your child. Even though until up to 2 years old children don’t necessarily have to socialize since they don’t have the concept of sharing yet, it’s also true that at 7 or 8 months age (depending on the child) observing consistently other kids in their activities has an impact on their learning process of some skills such as talking, eating, walking, running and more. Occasional playtime at the park is good, but not as good as watching other kids on a daily basis. It’s the same logic why younger siblings usually learn faster.
- For how unpleasant it is, getting sick here and there allows them to strengthen their immune system. Basically, we can’t keep them in a bubble forever.
Hard to admit, but even heart felt choices sometimes have some negative unexpected implications. In case the cons of keeping your baby at home are not enough to stop you, I totally support you.
I kept my son at home until he was 11 months old and it was awesome: never got sick once, had a more flexible schedule when needed. Considering that he had baby colic until he was 9 months old (yep!), I still think it was the best choice.
So let’s move on to the next option. I’m sure you’ll be able to make your final choice after reading the entire article. k
Ha! This is kind of an open wound for me, but I understand that not all moms had a bad experience with daycare so I’ll be objective, I promise.
Daycare is definitely the most common answer for working moms’ needs. Open Monday through Friday, usually from 6:30 am to 6 pm (hours depend on each daycare), it covers the typical office hours plus the commute. But just like everything else, there are some key factors to keep in consideration so let’s dive in.
Pros of daycare:
- Definitely less expensive than a nanny
- Teachers are usually specialized or licensed
- hours and activities are well structured and followed with consistency, which is very important for kids
- As mentioned above, interaction with other kids has sometimes positive consequences on their development and lays the foundations for an easier socialization when they grow older.
Cons of daycare:
- Even if cheaper than a nanny, it’s still pretty expensive. Here in the US goes from 400 to 1,500 dollars a month, depending on the kind of daycare and extra service that it offers (music, foreign language, 1 teacher every 3 children, Montessori, etc)
- In an average cost daycare, teachers have to take care of 10 or more children at the time (depending on local laws), which means that for most of the day your baby won’t receive focused attention. This is not necessarily a bad thing, excessive attentions can lead to bad habits, but if your baby is going through some rough time such as teething, ear infection or change of schedule, she might need some extra consideration even to just fall asleep and overloaded teachers can’t always keep these single needs in consideration. Which brings me to the next point
- Preset schedule is great, but in some circumstances are not good at all. If your baby is recovering from a cold or is teething, she might need to sleep longer. Besides, there’s no transition from one class to another which means that she’ll go from being able to sleep as much as she wants in the “infant” class to being forced to nap for only 2 hours in the 1 year old class. Let me tell you how much of a shock that was for my son who wasn’t ready at all. Not always, but often individual needs can and will be neglected.
- Zero flexibility. If you are 5 minutes late due to traffic you pay the late picking up fee. If you bring your baby in 10 minutes late she’ll miss breakfast. And so on. I’m perfectly aware that, if they made too many exceptions it’d be impossible for them to manage the day, but a little flexibility never killed anyone, right?
- If you work on weekends you need to find an alternative solution. If also your spouse/partner works on weekends, get ready to spend more money or to find another job
- Daycare closes on holidays, whether you have to work or not. Same thing in case of weather conditions that might pose a threat to safety
- In the above mentioned closures, you STILL pay for the entire week/month or you lose your spot. Doesn’t matter if you spent extra money for a baby sitter or if you missed a day at work, you still pay. If you add up all the holidays and calculate how much money you’d safe if you didn’t have to pay those day, you’d be shocked.
- Waiting list. To be sure your baby gets in the daycare of your choice, you have to get on their waiting list, which might mean months.
As you can see, even the most common choice is not immune to negative implications. But it does offer more benefits for less money.
Now that you have all the possible pros and cons of all three options, choosing between daycare, nanny or home shouldn’t be a problem.
As you might have noticed there are 3 recurring key factors:
- Type of education
Depending on what your personal situation is, flexibility might be more important than the cost, or the type of education that you want to give to your baby might push you to spend more money or to give up on flexibility.
It’s really up to you and your child’s needs, but now that you have this ultimate pros and cons list, you’ll be able to ponder and I’m sure, no, POSITIVE that you’ll make the best choice. 🙂
P.S.= if you liked this article, don’t forget to share it 🙂