parenting

Nanny or Daycare: How To Decide

parentingages and stages

When I returned to work following the birth of my first son, I never even considered hiring a nanny. I had several reasons - primarily vouchers through my work that enabled me to put my son in a center right near my office. However, if I am being honest, I worried that my son would grow to love his nanny more than me.

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My daycare experience was excellent. I loved that my son was being socialized. I thought it was good for him - and me - that his needs could not be met instantly. I was satisfied that the number of caregivers in the center, and wonderful director, allowed for constant supervision and oversight. There was also the added convenience of not having to scramble to find childcare when one caregiver fell ill. And I loved the extra time I got to spend with my son commuting, and during lunch when I could get away for a cuddle.

However, at the same time, I was tormented by a revolving door of illnesses his first year in daycare. I was concerned that so much time was spent tending to the basic needs of eight babies, that not enough attention was paid to any particular baby. I was frustrated that there seemed to be a stream of caregivers, which made developing a bond with any one caregiver seem unlikely. And I was EXHAUSTED, getting up over an hour earlier each day to get us both ready, and schlepping a baby and his accouterments on mass transit during rush hour.

When my family left Manhattan for greener pastures a few years later, due to erratic work schedules and lack of space at the local daycare, we were forced to hire a nanny. And (surprise, surprise) there were things I liked and didn’t like about having a nanny, as well. I loved our nanny, who developed a close bond with my son - and me! She came in the mornings and whisked him away so I could get ready, kept him engaged with playdates, and kept my house in order, taking on housework that was eating away at my precious post-work hours. But it was also hard relying on one person who, like anyone, had sick days and family issues. I found it distracting when I was working from home to have my son around. And nannies cost more than daycare centers, especially when adding the cost of classes, gas, food and the electricity involved in having people in your home all day.

Daycare centers and nannies can both be wonderful options for working parents. There are excellent centers that can provide children with a nurturing environment, while stimulating and socializing children early on. But the use of a nanny often does mean less work for parents as they struggle to get out the door each morning. You should ask yourself what your most important considerations are for your situation - weigh the pros and cons - and go from there. Inevitably you will have to make some compromises, but given how much time your children spend with their care givers, it's not a decision that should be made lightly!

What are your thoughts about daycare vs a nanny?

Darcy is a recovering attorney, wife, mother of two energetic little boys, and one of the child care gurus behind the website, Cribsters.com, where you can search for peer-reviewed daycare centers, nursery schools and summer camps for your little ones. You can read Darcy's thoughts on all things parenting on Cribsters' blog, and also follow Darcy and her fellow Cribsters on Facebook and Twitter.

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