My wife and I both work fulltime, and would both like to continue to grow our careers. We enjoy the opportunity to develop and learn that having a career gives us, as well as the social aspect of interacting with coworkers. Furthermore, even though the cost of full-time childcare is astronomical, it still makes financial sense to have us both continue our current positions (purely from a numbers perspective). All this is to say that in our specific situation, it seems to make sense to utilize a form of full-time child care instead of having a stay at home parent.
We evaluated several types of care, the first of which was a live-in nanny. This is a very good option for several reasons. With the nanny you get more flexible schedules than with other forms of care since they are living with you and aren’t going anywhere after 6pm. Nanny’s will also often do things for you around the house, like some cooking and cleaning. This is a big win. If the cooking and cleaning is reduced for you and your spouse, everyone is happier. And depending on your cooking ability, possibly even better fed and more satisfied. Pricing for nannies varies, but is generally cheaper than daycare centers. And of course your child is less likely to get sick versus those kids being cared for in a group setting. These are the major points that have floated up in our discussion and research into the live-in nanny situation, and they make a strong case.
On the other hand, there are several aspects to having a live-in nanny that could be considered drawbacks depending on your views. For us the biggest drawback is having another adult living with us five days a week. This means that our current world of two people will not just expand to be three but four, and that fourth is another adult. So no more running around the house naked and no more impromptu songs sung loudly. Even if you were brave enough to continue these types of habits, there’s not a nanny out there that would stick around after the first naked sighting. Also with a nanny you have to get very comfortable and trusting with someone you have known for basically no time at all. You will be trusting this person with your whole life. They will have access to your house and everything in it for 9 hours a day, not to mention sole access to your brand new child. All the security spy cams in the world cannot mitigate a bad intention or even just plain laziness (ie nanny takes a nap). Related to this potential issue is the fact that you are basically putting all of you childcare eggs in one basket. If a nanny is sick or has a sudden emergency, you are hosed. If a nanny goes nuts you are hosed. If the nanny doesn’t feel like giving your baby any attention, your baby is hosed. This list of drawbacks is also not exhaustive, but these were the main things we considered in coming to a decision.
Daycare centers were an obvious thing to consider. They offer many good qualities, most prominent of which is the reliability in schedules. Daycares are basically open when they say they will be open, and all the risk of schedules not working is with the new mom and dad. They have an entire staff so one sick teacher does not mean you will have to find other care for your child that day. There is also the reduction in risk of things like a caregiver going nuts or acting inappropriately, because there are numerous other adults around who will act as a natural safeguard against unacceptable behavior. The last major point is the social aspect for your child. They will be exposed to interactions with many different adults and children, better socializing them from a young age. All these major points of benefit drive strong piece of mind if you have found a good daycare center.
Major drawback: price. Daycare is expensive, and to me it is offensively so. To have someone watch your newborn child (our boy will be about 6 months old when he goes off to daycare) on a fulltime basis can range anywhere from $1,000 to over $2,000 per month in our area. The low end of that is about the same as our mortgage, and the high end can cover the mortgage, HOA fees, homeowner’s insurance, property tax, and all utilities combined. Let that sink in a bit. Then consider the fact that some places had the audacity to tell us they charge $5 every minute you’re late picking up your child. Excuse me? Are you a $300 per hour attorney disguised as a daycare worker? Am I getting some kind of legal advice, or at the very least a physical checkup for my $5 a minute? That’s crazy and offensive. Add to this the second biggest drawback of increased illness. Babies get sick a lot at daycares. You will be able to navigate from work, to daycare, to the pediatrician’s office blindfolded within a month from what I hear. If you need any more cons beyond this, there surely are some, but these two major points were enough to base decisions off of.
This really isn’t an option for us since our folks live in different states, but having grandparent daycare is a strong contender to consider. It’s free, reliable, and flexible, while it has the added benefit of having your child bond with more family members. What’s not to like? I would imagine the major drawback is you asking a few more years of childcare from the person who already spent 18+ years of their life raising you, and even more years in childcare if you had siblings.
You win, daycare
So with all that we concluded that daycare would be the best choice for us given the reliability and piece of mind it provides. I say here that daycare wins because to me it is a fight where I’m trying to resist but just don’t have the power to do so. I really do want to avoid the exorbitant price tag and germ exposure for my child, but my desire to cling to what independence I have left before my child can kill it is very strong and I don’t want a live-in nanny to do it first. You win, daycare. You win.