Before jumping into my nanny, daycare, working mom, stay-at-home mom experience, let me first say that each family and child is unique; what works for one may not work for another. Each care option has benefits and drawbacks. Plus each of us moms are looking for reassurance, that in a world that constantly judges, we made the right decision.
When Lil J was born we chose to have an in-home nanny, combined with help from our parents who live in California and Arizona. We followed a two week rotation: Nanny, CA Grandma, Nanny, AZ Grammy, Nanny, etc. It was unique and a little crazy, but it worked. The grandmas loved getting to see Lil J every six weeks. Plus it was actually cheaper to buy plane tickets than the cost of two weeks of daycare or nanny care!
Our nanny had her own little one, a few months older than Lil J, who came with her to our home. This was a win-win, as Lil J had a buddy to play with and we got the in-home nanny arrangement we wanted. Six months later our nanny accepted a full time job and we were on the hunt for a replacement. Our second nanny lasted only two months and quit without notice, leaving us in a lurch. Thankfully my employer had a limited time, back-up daycare option we were able to use. This gave us our initial exposure to the daycare experience. And so began our search for full time daycare.
My working mom friends told me that finding daycare with an opening would be a challenge. They were right. I made so many calls. The wait times were incredible…six months to one year was average. Six months?!?!? I need help next week! We broaden our search and found one with an immediate opening. Opposite direction from work, but we were out of options.
The first week was tough. I had mom guilt. For some reason having Lil J in our home during the day made me feel better about not being able to stay at home with him. He cried when I dropped him off, and I cried on the way to work. But he adjusted quickly and soon didn’t want to leave when it was time to go home. He enjoyed the arts and crafts, and playing with friends was fun. Each day he had the same teacher and helper which was great! He learned to nap on a big-boy cot, eat at a table, communicate using baby sign language and much more. I loved these aspects of daycare.
We began daycare mid-November. The combination of cold weather plus immediate exposure to lots of new germs was the perfect recipe for a variety of illnesses. It started with “hand, foot, mouth” followed by an ear infection, then a nasty virus with a 104.6 fever, then yet another ear infection…all within two and a half months. Although daycare is less expensive than an in-home nanny, you pay for everyday regardless of whether or not your child is there. All those days Lil J was home sick, we were paying for daycare while I was missing work.
Now that I’m staying home, Lil J has given his “two-week” notice at daycare and will be home with me full time. There will be pros and cons to this new arrangement as well, but that’s for a future post.
Pros of Nanny:
* No interruption to baby’s sleep schedule. I loved not having to get my baby out the door each morning. If Jackson was still sleeping when I left, there was no need to wake him.
* Limited exposure to germs. Lil J didn’t get his first cold until he started daycare.
* One-on-one attention
* Control over baby’s eating and nap schedules
* No need to prep daily bottles. At feeding time, our nanny heated milk I had already pumped.
* Gave our puppies outdoor access. She even took them on walks with the baby.
* Light housekeeping
* Light meal prep
Cons of Nanny:
* Limited socialization with other children
* Back-up care is needed when nanny is sick or unavailable
* It’s expensive!
* No supervision. Nanny has access to your home and belongings.
* Employee/employer relationship
Pros of Daycare:
* Structured curriculum and activities
* Licensed and regulated with trained staff and teachers
* Consistent hours
* Supervised environment
* Healthy meals provided
* More affordable than a nanny
Cons of Daycare:
* Pay for service regardless of use
* Difficult to find openings without extensive wait times
* Increased exposure to germs
* Drop/off and pick-up times
* Additional fees for late pick-up
* Limited control over child’s schedule
* Less individual attention
* Back-up care still needed when your child is sick