Childcare Arrangements: Pros + Cons

childcare arrangementsWhat are the pros and cons of different types of childcare arrangements? How do you decide on whether to hire a nanny, choose daycare, ask for help from family members, etc.? We’ve talked about taking business trips as a mom, but we haven’t had a conversation about this yet. How did you decide what was best for your family? Or, if you’re pregnant, how are you evaluating the options for how your child will be cared for when you’re working? Let me start by saying: Whatever you end up doing is the right choice. Truly, there are pros and cons to everything, so try not to listen to people (online or otherwise) who feel super strongly about the issue. Here are some key differences among childcare options that I’ve noticed:


The Pros: Your child gets individualized attention, in your home; you can be very specific about what you want re diet, activities, feeding, and more. You can negotiate for housekeeping and cooking as well.

The Cons: Hiring a nanny is expensive. Interviewing and payment can be a headache (especially if you are trying to figure out the “nanny tax”). If the nanny gets sick or is unreliable, you’re SOL. Even if you are specific with your guidelines, there’s no guarantee the nanny is doing what you ask (e.g., serving carrots instead of cookies, limiting TV time, etc.). By the time your kid is 3 or 4 you’ll probably want to pay for preschool on top of nanny services for socialization/school readiness.

Nanny share: This setup has many of the same pros and cons as above, but with added pro of socialization and added con of finding a suitable family and dealing with tricky conversations such as the extent to which they’ve baby proofed their home.

Licensed Daycare

The Pros: Your child is getting socialization and you get extremely reliable childcare. Strict federal rules regulate the environment, and the staff, so for me safety was less of a concern. Teachers may often have bachelor’s if not master’s degrees in early childhood education. There’s no tax issue here – and if you use a dependent care flexible spending account to pay, you’ll lower your taxable income.

The Cons: Daycare hours can seem restrictive to someone used to billing 2,000 hours a year; 6 p.m. is often the latest pickup, for example. If your child is sick (and they will be, often, with all those other kids around) you can’t send him or her in, which may leave you scrambling for an alternative. As with any school environment, you may worry your child is being misunderstood, or ignored, or otherwise cared for in a way that worries you.


The Pros: Cheap! Loving! Family!

The Cons: Your parents (or in-laws) will be more in your business than ever. (Brace yourself for child-rearing opinions galore!) Depending on your relationship, you may or may not be comfortable telling them how you want your child cared for, not to mention enforcing your rules. Grandparents may have antiquated ideas about important issues like safety, breastfeeding, baby proofing, etc. — and they may be set in their ways. Also, depending on your relatives’ physical health, your child may end up being less active (e.g., not as much time spent running around a park) than they would with a nanny who is younger. In addition, if your child will be spending this time at their home rather than yours, you either have to bring the needed supplies/baby gear back and forth every day (which is a pain) or buy extras to leave at Gramma’s house (which adds up).

At Home with Your Partner/Spouse

The Pros: Cheap! Loving! Family!

The Cons:  You may have trouble discussing and enforcing childcare preferences with your partner, especially if you both feel strongly about an issue. The time spent at home caring for your child will likely hurt his/her salary and career. Stay-at-home dads may feel isolated by a very SAHM-centric culture. Plus, even if you don’t want to leave your job, you may feel guilty that you aren’t able to spend nearly as much time with your child as the other parent.

At Home with You

The Pros: Cheap! Loving! Family! You get to raise the kids exactly how you like! You’re able to meet and spend time with other moms and their kids. During naptimes (theoretically, at least…), you can get some chores done around the house.

The Cons: There is boredom. There is drudgery. A SAHM’s career is in danger of taking a serious nosedive, and it may be hard to return to a comparable salary when you go back to work. You’ll also be left more vulnerable in the case of divorce or the death of your spouse.

There are a ton of other options, of course — au pairs, unlicensed daycares, and more.  Ladies, what did you choose for your kids? Have you tried a few different kinds of childcare — what were your opinions on each?

(Pictured: raingear at Swedish daycare, originally uploaded to Flickr by Vilseskogen.)


N.B. PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS ON TOPIC; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course I highly value all comments by my readers, I’m going ask you to please respect some boundaries on substantive posts like this one. Thank you for your understanding!


  1. Maddie Ross says:

    We’ve always used licensed daycare facilities and loved them, but I do have a related question — have any of you successfully located backup care and how did you go about doing so? What I’m looking for is either a service or an individual who I can call when my child is sick or we have other daycare issues to watch my child when I work. We do not have grandparents or non-working family nearby to help. Is this something that Care (dot) com could help with? Or do I need to be more aggressive about asking people at church or in our neighborhood?

    • I used care dot com and found a local SAHM that we got to know in cases of back-up care. One of the women I met has older kids that are in school during the day, so she was a great fit for sick-child care.

      • Maddie Ross says:

        Thanks, Beth. I’ll have to look into that. So often little one will have a fever one afternoon at school and be sent home, but by 9am the next morning is completely back to normal. That’s exactly the person I’m looking for in that type of situation.

    • Not an immediate solution, but you could ask your employer or your spouse’s employer to provide backup care as a benefit. my firm partners through Bright Horizons to provide backup onsite care and backup in-home care.

    • Meg Murry says:

      Have you asked at daycare for recommendations? They may know someone – either a former teacher that is now a SAHM who might do backup childcare, or someone the teachers use themselves if the kid is too sick for school, etc. Or maybe ask the other parents if you see them at dropoff/pickup who they use? If nothing else, knowing the other parents at daycare can make for good childcare trade-offs – one day when the daycare had to be closed because of a watermain break, I took the morning off to stay with my kid and one other, then traded with another parent who took the afternoon off to stay with them. I still had to use half a vacation day, but it was better than a full one.

    • Anonymous says:

      My firm provides backup care through Bright Horizons (daycare center) and Parents in a Pinch (in-home care). Not sure if the latter has caregivers in your area, but it could be an option.

  2. We have one child now, and opted for a licensed daycare. We had several factors to consider:
    1. we have a small house, and I have the option to work from home. we also have a loud rowdy dog. The house isn’t really big enough for me to work from home (which I do most days) PLUS have the baby and dog and nanny.
    2. finances- we are in MA, and pay $1900/mo for daycare. It’s still cheaper than a nanny, though not by much.
    3. hours- DH leaves early and comes home early; I start work late and can work late. Between the two of us, we are typically able to have the baby in daycare from 9:30am-4:30/5pm. I also keep the baby home one day per week and schedule my week/ DH’s week around it. It’s one of the deals I made with my boss and myself when retiring to work. I put in a solid 50 hour work week, but have enough flexibility that I can arrange to have Baby home once per week and not have it impact my deliverable. DH also has the option to work from home, which he does when I travel. Baby still goes to daycare, but DH’s commute is eliminated which gives him a little more flexibilty when he’s flying solo.

    If/when/once we have a second kid, the cost of daycare will likely equate or come much closer to the cost of a nanny. We will also be in a larger house. At that point, I will probably modify my work hours a bit and hire a babysitter/nanny to fill in the difference. Kid #1 will likely be in preschool at that point.

    For what it’s worth, we really like the daycare option. Grandparents are NOT an option for us (distance wise and also…wouldn’t be an option if they were close, either!) and LO has gotten great socialization. She has had a couple of nasty colds, but ***KNOCKS ON WOOD** not nearly what I’d feared.

  3. Curious to know more about licensed, in-home providers. I see that as a different option than a licensed daycare center, for a few reasons
    1) daycare centers tend to be big brand names/franchises (at least where I am) while an in-home center is always a small business
    2) in-home providers are cheaper (I’ve heard, but have no proof of this)
    3) centers seem (out of necessity) to have a rigid structure while I could see an in-home provider having more flexibility (on things ranging from drop off/pick up times to napping, feeding etc)

    Does anyone use in-home care and can comment?

    • I use a center, but based on my prior research, I think those are all true. It depends on what you are comfortable with. My center is pretty rigid, but I appreciate the fact that there are no surprises. Safety in numbers…

    • Meg Murry says:

      I just commented below – I don’t, but we looked into it, and my cousin does.

      One other factor for the in-home centers being cheaper is whether the provider is doing everything “on the books” and therefore whether you can use Flex Spending Dependant Care accounts or tax deductions. I’m assuming that if a provider is licensed they are paying taxes on the childcare income, but it would be worth asking.

      One thing that our center does that the in home providers I interviewed didn’t is feed the kids healthy, varied meals. Most of the in-home providers I looked at wanted you to either pack the kid’s breakfast and lunch, or the food they provided was too much “kid food” like macaroni, pizza and PB&J on rotation – technically meeting all the food groups, but still not what I’d prefer my kids to eat daily. But of course, not all centers provide food either.

      Also, our daycare center is actually a United Way supported non-profit that has a sliding scale tuition based on income, takes vouchers from the department of Job and Family Services and offers scholarships to families in need. It seems to be a very rare gem, but there are non-chain daycares out there, FYI. I think part of the reason our daycare serves food is because it gets funding from the USDA food program due to the population of lower income families it serves.

    • Mrs. Jones says:

      Check your state’s website (assuming there is one like here in GA) for complaints/lawsuits, which seem to be more prevalent with in-home providers than larger child care centers.

    • My sister’s child has attended a licensed in-home daycare for the past year and a half, and absolutely loves it. It is far less expensive than the licensed centers, offers more flexibility in terms of scheduling and minor illness, and a nice, “homey” environment. Another benefit is the continuity of care providers and classmates; my sister’s child has developed strong connections to both her teacher and friends. The downside is that the provider is closed for two weeks per year as well as federal holidays that don’t always correspond to parents’ vacations.

    • hoola hoopa says:

      While some in-home centers are certainly cheaper, ours wasn’t. She was fully licensed and on the books, which I assume was the difference.

      The huge appeal for us was: flexible schedule (our oldest could NOT drop to one nap at 12 mo), relaxed atmosphere (much more like being home with grandma), and flexible scheduling (ie, drop-in care).

      Cons for others would have been lack of structured curriculum, informal billing and overall feel, no security besides normal front door lock, and shorter hours of operation.

      At various times the mix of ages was a pro and a con. Overall, I think it was a pro because when we switched to a center (related to relocation not dissatisfaction) and our kids were in single-age rooms, they weren’t as happy.

      Also, I know some people view the lack of oversight by other teachers/staff/large number of parents/webcam as concerning but we didn’t. She served the neighborhood, so we often saw her and other families out and about. The smaller feel also facilitated closer relationships than I’ve had with other parents or providers at a center. So we felt like if there was a problem, we’d know about it.

  4. Meg Murry says:

    We use a daycare center and LOVE it. The staff is great, they love my kids, etc etc. The germs and being sent home when sick suck, and sometimes there was a mad dash to get there by 6 pm, but I wouldn’t want to go any other way.

    One thing you did not list Kat – in home licensed daycares. Probably not as common in big cities, but in suburbia where I live they are pretty common. We looked into a few, but we decided to go with a center instead because we couldn’t find any in-homes with space available. But my cousin uses one for her kid and loves it. Pros: fewer kids (in our state I think its only up to 6 kids) but mixed age group interactions, siblings will be together, more of a “family” atmosphere, will often still take kids that are only mildly ill when daycares won’t. Cons: often only 1 adult at a time, so if they get a difficult new child, your kid may not get much attention, same issue as nannies with needing to find an alternate sitter during their vacation, in someone else’s home so you have really trust their rules/values, may not be inspected as often as a daycare center.

  5. We love love love our daycare. Cost-wise we might pay more than we would for a nanny plus cheaper preschool (two kids at daycare plus one in aftercare/camp), but at this point I’m reluctant to transition the younger kids to a new place and disrupt what we know. However, I don’t love aftercare (it’s safe and clean, but it just means that all the activities and non-academic homework (music, etc.) gets pushed to an already crammed evening), so we may opt for an afternoon nanny once DS2 is in kindergarten and only DD is left in daycare for another couple of years.

    Also a plug for daycare – while the pickup is less flexible (ours is 6:30), with a nanny you don’t always have very much flexibility either, and if you are looking at 9 hour days (which is 8 hour workday plus an hour commute for you), you are already looking at more than 40 hours/week. Our daycare is open for 11 hours and the kids can theoretically be there all day.

    FWIW, our daycare is between $1500-$2000/month (higher end for infants), meaning the full cost for three kids is upwards of $5,000/month. Equivalent nanny in our area would be around $4,000 or so.

    • Anonymous says:

      Assuming you live in NYC, would you mind sharing which daycare you use?

  6. Lawmom says:

    We also use a licensed child care facility. As of late, we have had our share of daycare drama, mostly consisting of frequent turnover, particularly in the room where my 14 month old is.

    I was raised in a family where both parents worked, and we had nannies full time. My mom did negotiate for house cleaning, laundry, and cooking to be done by our nannies. As a result, while I do remember GREAT nannies we had, I also remember a lot of turnover and just general dissatisfaction on the part of my mom. Also, I recently had a VERY part time household employee, and the tax reporting was really hard for me to keep up with. I am a tax attorney, so reporting in non-negotiable…

    I have a colleague who had nannies for her children, and had a better run than my mom did (or, perhaps, has forgotten how stressful it was). Therefore, any time my children are sick and I have to stay home from work, she takes the opportunity to remind me how great it was for her having a nanny.

    Still, for my peace of mind, a daycare is the way to go. There may be turnover, but there is always a highly regulated, safe place for my children to go every day. Our facility has great hours (7 am-6pm) and is closed only on Federal holidays. That does include sneaky holidays like Columbus day and Veterans day, but only includes Thanksgiving day and Christmas day (i.e., no extended closing over holidays).

    My oldest child is 3.5 now, and I am stressed about what to do when she starts “real” school (and gets out of school at 2:30 pm). Anyone have ideas about that? I know it’s certainly going to be specific to my area, but any opinions about after school programs? Part-time nannies? My parents are nearby, but I hate to totally rely on them…and, in any event, I would want to have a reliable back up plan for when they want or need a day off!

    • Meg Murry says:

      Does the daycare offer an afterschool program? Ours does – the kids ride the bus there. We did it for kindergarten, to ease the transition, then went with the school provided aftercare for 1st grade and beyond. The school aftercare is pretty mediocre – its not bad, just nothing great like our daycare was, but its so cheap I couldn’t justify spending so much more on aftercare – and my hours have changed so my son doesn’t have to be there all that long anymore.

      • Lawmom says:

        Our current daycare does not offer an afterschool program. There are others in town that do, however, I might need to check the waiting list procedure for those and sign us up. Thanks for the insight!

    • mascot says:

      My child’s (private) school offers on-site aftercare. We love it. He gets a snack, can participate in enrichment activities like tumbling class, and basically gets a couple hours of free-play with different aged kids. Once he gets a bit older, they have a study period so the kids can get their homework done. The program also covers care for early dismissals and teacher workdays. It doesn’t cover winter break, spring break etc. For those we are cobbling together visits with the grandparents.
      I believe that the YMCAs in our area also offer afterschool programs and holiday camps.

    • hoola hoopa says:

      For school-aged kids, we’ve done aftercare at the school and had the daycare pick up in their van for aftercare. For us, the daycare was more expensive, but it meant only one pick up for us. At one school (private), in-service days at the school’s aftercare program (run by the school) was not an option but it was an option at another school (public) aftercare program (run by the YMCA). That option is very valuable!

  7. My daughter started daycare in a center at 3 months, and I felt much more comfortable leaving her in an environment with multiple layers of oversight and accountability than leaving her home with one person all day. If she were older and could tell me what she and the Nanny were doing all day, I might feel differently, but to me the daycare center offered greater peace of mind.

    • +1 to this. I felt so much better leaving my 3 month old with licensed professionals in a structured/accountable environment. The cost is significant, particularly with #2 coming (the baby room is SO expensive), but I feel like that was the only “con” for me. I love knowing that anyone can drop in at any time, that there are rules regulating everything, and that I know my kid will get a well-thought-out food and curriculum every day.

      I didn’t know any nanny or in-home people personally, and we’re new to the area, so I worried about my ability to pick a good one and the inability for my kid to tell me otherwise. And my semi-nearby MIL has elderly parents that are requiring more care and attention, so I worried about last minute dr appts or falls or other emergencies. Neither of us have the ability or desire to stay home, so that wasn’t a serious option.

    • NavyLawyer says:

      This is late but maybe others will read this. There seems to be a misconception here about in-homes – most in-home daycares are indeed licensed, inspected, etc. There are regulations about the adult-to-child ratio; they are lower for in-homes vs. commercial. Many providers have degrees in childcare, especially in larger cities. Also in big cities there are non-profits that somehow work with the licensed providers to provide wholesome meals. Both of the in-homes I’ve used prepared all organic food at home – chicken soup, homemade bread, lots of fruit. Finally an added perk can be a nanny or in-home that speaks a foreign language.

      Another con to daycares (commercial and in-home) is they often refuse to deal with cloth diapers or any other non-mainstream request.

      • This is really a YMMV issue IME – I think the quality/options for in home vs. center based daycare can really vary. I looked at both when my first was a baby. After visiting several in home small group, licensed daycares I was not really comfortable with any of them. The women running them tended to have less progressive philosophies (so not supporting of cloth diapers, breastfeeding, etc.) and they were the only adult in the home with 4-6 children. I couldn’t get comfortable with it.

        We found a larger center 1 mile from our home that would do cloth diapers, has teachers going to yearly training on the latest child development practices, and had longer more flexible hours. (Its not a chain, locally owned.) I felt much better at a center with lots of adults and common standards than I did with a small in home single shingle type setup.

        I’d advise new parents to look at all the options in their neighborhood, visit, get a feel for your own needs and comfort levels. We’ve had our kids in daycare for a total of 6 years now and its been the most critical part of my support system, along with having a spouse who shares duties equally.

  8. Two lawyer family, one litigator, one government – we only ever considered licensed daycare for our now 8 month old. Nanny was too expensive, we don’t have grandparents or family in town, and we didn’t feel comfortable with the in-home daycare because we were concerned there wasn’t enough oversight – (even though they’re ‘licensed,’ they’re only audited once a year, and there seemed to be such a huge disparity in the quality of care in the few we did visit.)

    We love the daycare center we ended up with. It’s loosly affiliated with a church so cost is lower (it’s a non-profit, not one of the chains), and all of the infant teachers have been there for 10+ years. It’s not as fancy as one of the centers we looked at downtown – where teachers can send you photos of your child via ipad on demand – but the cost of $300 / week was much more in our budget than $550-700 / week. Our kid has been sick a few times, but nothing major, and his immune system should be ready for anything by kindergarten. They have an open door policy so I can come visit him during the day if I want to, and even a nursing room, if I worked close enough to run over there. (I don’t, but it’s a nice option.) They’re open 6:30 to 6, so I can pull the occasional 10.5 – 11 hour day when necessary, and not have to pay overtime to a nanny.

    Also, my daycare has a ‘sick room.’ I can’t drop him off sick, but if he gets sick while he’s there (fever, pink eye, etc. ) he can stay for the remainder of the day at least. That’s been a big help.

    • Anonymous says:

      Assuming you live in NYC, can you share which daycare. I am on the UWS and am having trouble finding daycares for less than 3k a month. Thank you.

  9. We do a licensed daycare facility. I have three kids. There are days I’d love to have the nanny who did some housekeeping, but ultimately the daycare is best for us. Lots of oversight (including that we can constantly watch them on video–I never do, but I like that I can), lots of people around. (We also get the pictures from their iPads, which I don’t think is that difficult.)

    For me, I think it would bother me to have someone in my house all the time, and I don’t trust my ability to hire someone who will be great to my kids when I’m not around. For my older kids, they could tell me, but the baby can’t.

    • You just described our exact situation, so I’ll just agree with all this. The idea of a nanny in my house all day without us there bothers me. Love our daycare and knowing that there are layers of oversight (and the iPad pictures each day don’t hurt)!

  10. Katarina says:

    My husband stays at home, and it had worked out very well for us. It is something we planned far in advance. My husband does some (many) things differently than I do, but it has helped me realize that there are multiple good ways to do things. I think if we both worked, I would be more controlling, but I just don’t have that option. I have occasional days of jealousy, but they are few and far between, and I know I would not be happy staying home. My husband does most of the housework during the day and cooks, so I can concentrate on my son when I am home. He does feel somewhat isolated, and would like to meet other stay at home dads. He was unhappy with his job, and it involved a lot of travel, which would be problematic. My husband does some temp work to keep his resume current. He is also considering a career change when we are done having children, either starting his own business or going back to school. Overall, we are both happy with the arrangement, although I am not sure how smoothly workplace re-entry will go. My husband thinks staying home with our son is much easier than working in his high pressure job.

    • hoola hoopa says:

      My husband was SAH for a couple of years and I can echo all this. It worked really, really well for us. His biggest hang up was feeling badly that he wasn’t financially providing for the family.

      His re-entry to career went really well, actually, fwiw. Well, professionally it went well. It was a huge adjustment for the family.

  11. Childcare says:

    So much to say here, and this totally outs me to anyone who knows me personally, but I’ve tried 3 of these: nanny, nanny share and licensed in-home day care.

    We started with a nanny when baby was around 5 months old. The good: It was SO convenient to just be able to leave in the morning without needing to pack a diaper bag, get baby dressed, etc etc. If he slept later than usual, I could just give him a kiss and leave. Also, our nanny did a lot of light housekeeping, and coming home to a tidy, clean, house was fantastic.
    The bad: Nanny definitely viewed my son has “her baby” (and my house as her home away from home) which was great in that she loved him and took good care of him, but bad in that she had her own ideas about baby care and housekeeping that were not 100% compatible with mine. Some people could probably roll with this better than I did, but it really got under my skin. For example: she gave my son his first haircut while we were at work without our permission. She rearranged things in our house. She contradicted or ignored me sometimes when I gave her instructions. Also, it was so, so expensive.

    We transitioned to a nanny share with one other little girl when our son was around 10 months. I would not recommend a nanny share to anyone. We did not save much money, but had only half the convenience because we alternated houses. Not worth it. In addition to the pitfalls Kat mentioned, you have another set of parents’ personalities do deal with. If they are not on the same page as you as far as general parenting philosophy, what-kind-of-relationship-should-we-have-with-the-nanny philosophy (ie, is the nanny your friend or your employee?), and general conflict resolution tactics, it’s a recipe for disaster.

    So! Around 1 year, we switched to licenced in-home child care, and have been there ever since. I love it. Everything is on the books, so we can still make claims under DFSA. Plus, it makes me happy to know that the owner is smart enough to maintain all the licensing requirements, and that the place is subject to random inspections. The daycare has 7 kids ages 1.5-3 including the owner’s daughter. The owner has one full-time assistant and 2-3 more back-ups, which gives us some options for back-up babysitters already known to our son if he’s sick. Food is provided except for an afternoon snack, son looooves a couple of the other boys, and generally seems very happy. It’s a pain to get out of the house in the morning sometimes, and yes, flu/cold season is rough, but our childcare costs are less than half of what they were for the nanny, and now that my son is older I think the more structured environment and social interaction with other energetic little boys is great for him. Cons: the house probably isn’t as clean/sterile as a center (but neither is my house, so I don’t really care), the bookkeeping isn’t as professional, and it closes for a week around the holidays.

    • pockets says:

      Just to do offer another perspective – I do a nanny share and it’s been working out really well. We save about $275 a week. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who wants things done a certain or specific way – you have to be laid back because the nanny can’t treat the two kids differently you can’t dictate everything, and you want the other family to be laid back so you don’t have to deal with their issues/hangups.

      • Childcare says:

        If we’d saved $275 a week, I might feel differently! For us it was only about $125.

  12. Agree with the many posters above re: licensed daycare and oversight. I cannot overemphasize enough how comforting it is to have formal supervision and documentation.

    But I really wanted to add a couple of other things that we love about our daycare that don’t come up as much. First, I think there is a perception that daycare workers have less of a personal relationship with the kids, and in our case (which is one of the big chains), that is not true. The teachers are so hands-on and interactive with the kids. We had conferences yesterday and the details they gave me about his behavior let me know that he is comfortable with them and they are really paying attention. My son hugs his teachers and blows them kisses, and still remembers his infant class teachers, who were never without at least one baby in their arms. The teachers have been so sweet to me, offering gentle advice and lots of praise. I can’t say enough how lucky we are to have had these women on our team! Second, as another aspect to the socialization pro of daycare, I love that my son has started off in a diverse environment. His “normal,” from 12 weeks on, is to regularly interact with kids of other races, religions and family structures. Gives me so much hope for the future :)

  13. nannies says:

    We opted for a nanny option about 6 years ago when oldest son was diagnosed with food allergies, and the daycare center we were in wouldn’t accommodate his allergies.

    We’ve had nannies ever since, and we have negotiated with every one. We’ve had 5 nannies so far (all ended on good terms), and except for one, the cost has been cheaper for us than a daycare center. It isn’t cheaper when we add on preschool, but the convenience of flexible scheduling alone is worth the extra cost.

    If I say it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: nannies are not always more expensive than daycare centers. It depends entirely on your market, and your negotiation terms.

  14. Early childhood anon says:

    As someone who works in lobbying/policy for quality early childhood education for all families, I’d love to are the post corrected to elimate the term daycare and use the correct terminology of “child care center.” The teachers and professionals who work in those settings are not caring for days!

    • It probably should also differentiate between center based licensed child care and in home licensed child care. At least in my state (CA) those are both common options but with different considerations.

  15. Julia S. says:

    My kids are now older, but we’ve run the gamut of childcare. I was a SAHM for a bit, then in grad school at night, then worked part-time before returning full-time. As a SAHM, I had a local homeschooled girl to assist when I just needed an hour or two to myself, or needed to run errands – or even just run. Grad School I had a gap between when DH got home and I had to leave, so I had a high schooler come over and watch the kids (about 3 & 1 at that point). When I started to work part-time, I taught at night, so I had a bevy of middle schoolers (easier to schedule – they don’t drive, they take it very seriously, and they play with the kids) as my child care for the in-between (330 to 530).

    I was not comfortable with my kids spending all day at a center and wanted them to have the freedom to play, walk, run, swing, etc. at home or the park. I am not comfortable with in-home daycare. Just my bias.

    When I went to work full-time two years ago, my kids were 6 & 8 and didn’t need a full-time nanny, so we hired a housekeeper for 20 hours a week – at $20/hr plus payroll taxes, it was expensive, but it worked out very well. If I was running late, she could stay for a little, and she cooked, cleaned, and did laundry so I came home to happy fed children and a clean house. This past summer, she left to care for her grandkids, and our kids switched to parochial school three towns over (25 min drive). DH and I have shifted our schedules to do pickup and dropoff, and the school has an after school program of supervised homework and activities, and then outside play (in the gym in inclement weather). It’s been awesome – the kids love it, and it lets them do after school music lessons, chess club, etc. without adding to our crazy schedule. Plus it only costs $20/d for the two kids.

    Our house is a mess (looking for a once-a-week housekeeper), laundry is piled everywhere, and we eat way too much pizza, but otherwise it’s been great. Every once in awhile DH and I have conflicting meetings (we both commute 90 min each way) but in general whomever does dropoff gets to work late, and vice-versa.

    My advice is to go with your gut and change gears as your kids and work change. My work has definitely suffered this year because of my schedule limits, but it’s a small price to pay to be there for their soccer games and have dinner together, even if it is frozen pizza.