Child care vs. Nanny
March 16, 2005 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Which is better for a short term (3+/- mos): Hiring a nanny or sending your infant to child care? The child is coming on 15 months, and a second income is imperative.

We need to pay off some debts, and the new second income will be more than the previous single one (which would disappear after 3 mos or so). So thus the temporary nature.

It seems we could better afford a nanny, but another side of us wants to see the child grow socially, and get out of the confines of our house.

Bonus if you live in Seattle area and have recommendations on either (with enough details).
posted by ValveAnnex to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
At 15 months, your kid is going to be at a great age to starting to socialize, see other children, etc. Some of my daughter's best friends are from her first playgroup at a daycare she hasn't been in for 3 years.

If you do childcare, prepare yourself for colds. Children get germs from other kids -- easily, frequently, constantly. (For my daughter, I thought of it as building a vigorous immune system, but that's for you to decide.)

The adjustment is tough at first putting a kid in daycare. They cry when you drop them off. It hurts. A lot. But eventually, they ignore you when you come to pick them up because they're having too much fun washing the babydolls with sand or some such.

I am very happy that we chose a professional, education-based childcare rather than a home-based "Let's watch Barney again" childcare. It made the transfer to Montessori at 3 much easier and really gave her a good foundation for learning that seems to be working for her.

I have heard complaints from people that had short-term au pairs that the short time frame of "Here's your primary caretaker" and then quickly "and now she's gone forever" was quite unnerving to the kids. I can't speak to it, but it's something to consider.
posted by Gucky at 9:57 AM on March 16, 2005

Hm. Most daycare situations are significantly cheaper than nannies.

I'm a stay at home parent, and if I were to go to work on a short-term basis my Plan A would be to find a small home-based daycare situation, with a few other children. For one thing, I like giving the turn to the mom who's trying to find a way to be home with her own kids. Make sure it's licensed, of course.

Second choice would be a nanny in my home. I would feel lousy about hiring someone on such a short-term basis though. But, that said, there may very well be someone for whom a short-term nanny gig is ideal.

A commercial daycare would be my third choice. For an older child I think it would be kind of fun, especially one with a "preschool" angle, but for a toddler, I think more focused attention is better. 15 months is an age where they really need intimate communication.

I'm sure that prices in Seattle can't be more than they are here in the Bay Area, and perhaps are even less. You're probably looking at less than ten bucks an hour for a home based daycare, even less for a commercial day care, and ten to fifteen for a nanny.
posted by padraigin at 9:59 AM on March 16, 2005

I second the quality, education-based childcare. Socialization is good at that age. My children attended a museum-based childcare school and have been avid museum consumers ever since.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:43 AM on March 16, 2005

Third it. Make sure that whichever way you go, you allow a buttload of time for adjustment. If you go the daycare route, shop around and don't go with anything you don't feel comfortable with. If possible, put your child in at first for one or two days, to make sure it's the right place for them, then gradually work up to full-time. And after the period of full-time care, gradually work down again.

It's a great place to gain social skills. My son (age 2) comes home from his one day a week and tells me about kids I've never heard of or met. He hasn't yet picked up any bad habits. He still cries when I leave him there (it's heartwrenching) but he settles in the minute I drive away. They have a set curriculum and focus on "assisted play", so I know he's being taught things he may not learn at home. And at the end of the day, you get to leave the mess behind for someone else to clean up. :)
posted by tracicle at 11:34 AM on March 16, 2005

Another option you could look into would be sharing a nanny with another family. I know some people who do this and it works out well. It cuts costs a bit for both family, the children get to socialize with each other, and depending on the arrangement, your kid could be out of the house experiencing the world. I don't think you have to limit yourself to pairing up with another kid exactly the same age, either. If the other child is somewhat older, your kid might suddenly start picking up verbal and other skills from the older kid.
posted by bonheur at 12:03 PM on March 16, 2005

Remember that as soon as your child gets sick the daycare gives them the boot. Are you able to take a week off work on zero notice because your child has picked up a virus? A nanny won't refuse to care for a sick child.

Most nannies don't want to stick around the house all day, but will try to get out and hang with the other nannies, so your child still gets to socialize.
posted by v-tach at 12:11 PM on March 16, 2005

If you hire a nanny (probably a lot more difficult to find a good one than to find good childcare), and decide you've made a mistake (or that you like the situation, and want to extend it, but the nanny is leaving), it's probably a lot more problematical than switching (or extending) childcare.
posted by WestCoaster at 12:11 PM on March 16, 2005

15-months is a little young for an 'academic' childcare, and there is some evidence that kids who spend a lot of time in childcare at an early age develop aggression-problems at a higher rate than kids who stay at home (and the more education-focused the program, the more pronounced the aggression becomes). Probably not a huge problem for just a few months, though.

That said, the quality of childcare centers varies so widely that it's really hard to make generalizations about education-based vs. home-based vs. nanny options. If the caretakers are smart, loving, and kind, then it's probably a good place for your child. So visit as many places as you can, and go with your instincts about which one would be best for your kid.
posted by nixxon at 12:22 PM on March 16, 2005

Be careful about the word 'nanny' as it has specific implications from the US government's point of view: the care giver lives in your residence, which has some significant implications from tax purposes. This is a hassle if your job offers a cafeteria plan as a benefit.

In our case, our child's governess costs double that of daycare. The upside is that you can hire a governess in a relatively short period of time (1 month or less), whereas wait lists for daycare centers may be months long. When we posted an ad, we ended up with more than 200 applicants, but the screening process was straight forward.

If you don't hire through an agency, be ready to pick up worker's comp insurance and to be sure that your employee has appropriate automobile insurance if s/he will be transporting your child.
posted by plinth at 1:22 PM on March 16, 2005

« Older Independent internet media   |   Looking for two movie titles Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.