A Quick Guide to Daycares, Nannies, and Nanny-Shares
Making the decision on how and where your child should be cared for is a big one. Whether you’re going back to work and needing full time care or looking for part-time support it’s certainly not an easy decision to make. My husband and I both work outside the house and have needed full-time care for our baby boy starting when he was around 4 months old. Now a wonderful 2 year old, we’ve had him in daycare, with a full-time nanny, and with a nanny share at different times. While there is no right answer, I’ll share some pros and cons of each of these caregiving scenarios.
There are a couple ways to work with a nanny. The two I’ll talk about are a 1-1 nanny and a nanny share. A 1-1 nanny is a caregiver that looks after the children in your household. A nanny share is an arrangement where multiple households share the costs and care from a nanny.
First let’s look at a 1-1 nanny. A 1-1 nanny is amazing because the care is completely customized for your children and lifestyle. It feels really good to know that hours, routines, and preferences can be set by your family, and your child is constantly getting individualized interaction and engagement from the caregiver. However, with a 1-1 nanny typically in your home this may mean you need to put extra effort into maintaining a variety of exposures like new environments, ages, ethnicities, and experiences.
|Flexible structure for payment, days off, hours, etc||Less structure to the day|
|Keep your at home routines intact||Varying levels of age-appropriate activities/curriculum|
|Environment that your kids are familiar with (typically your house!)||Less exposure to new environments, personalities, ethnicities, ages, etc|
|1-1 engagement and care||Expensive|
|Most nannies will care for your children when they are sick||Need accommodations if nanny is sick|
|Close parental relationship with caregiver||Need to provide activities, toys, etc|
|Less germs and therefore less sick|
|Only pay for hours worked|
|Logistically works great for multi-kid families|
Next is a nanny-share. Nanny sharing is great because it balances some of the cons of 1-1 nanny by lowering the expenses and giving your children playmates around their age.
|Customized hours and rates||Less structure to the day|
|Keep your at home routines intact||Less exposure to new environments, personalities, ethnicities, ages, etc|
|1-few engagement and interaction from caregiver||Coordination with other family can add layer of complexity|
|Close parental relationship with caregiver||Not ideal for children of very different ages|
|Consistent interaction with other children||Payment can be confusing|
|Affordable||Varying levels of age-appropriate activities/curriculum|
An important note on nannies, whether 1-1 or sharing, is the background and quality of the nanny. There is a notable difference between a caregiver nanny and an enrichment nanny, more on that here. Some of the pros and cons change if you choose one versus the other, like age-appropriate curriculum and structure to the day.
Finally, let’s review daycare. Daycare is wonderful because it’s predictable, has a wide range of hours, and gives kids a broad exposure to activities, ages, personalities, and ethnicities. Like any option, there are some drawbacks like more germs, less customized care, and can be more expensive depending on what other options are available to you.
|Wide range of hours available||Less customized care for your child|
|Age appropriate curriculum, activities, and toys||More germs and sick more often!|
|Engagement with other children in similar (and different) ages||Set food menus are convenient but may not meet your nutritional preferences|
|Exposure to different ethnicities, personalities, and abilities||Can be more expensive|
|State regulation and accreditation||Higher caregiver to child ratio|
|After hours activities (like date nights, etc)||Less flexibility for sick policies|
|Convenient for families with multiple kids||Unanticipated closures (like a pandemic)|
|Set structure and processes for payment, days off, and when things get strange (like a pandemic)||Not as close of a parental relationship with caregivers|
|Usually have a network to other families (parents groups, facebook groups, etc)||Still pay regardless of time away (e.g. vacation)|
Our Childcare Experience
We’ve had great experiences with both our 1-1 nanny and the nanny share. We loved building a close relationship with our nanny, our son rarely got sick, and our nanny share was very affordable. Another wonderful aspect is the close relationship the kids built together, they really look forward to seeing each other.
Overall, we have had really great childcare experiences across the board and each was exactly what we needed at the time. At this phase of life, we’ve decided to put our son (2 years) and new daughter (4 months) in daycare together. With their needs being very different, we felt they would be best suited in separate classrooms with others their age and like the convenience of one drop-off place. When our children are a bit older, we’d love to pursue another nanny share with a family in our neighborhood, to us it feels like the best of both worlds.