Daycare, Nannies, Sitters, Oh My!
We live in the land of choices. Which is a good thing. Except when you are already so overwhelmed by your new screaming infant and too sleep-deprived to coherently weigh the oh so many childcare options.
Finding a trusting and loving child care provider is one of the most daunting aspects of being a parent who works outside of the home. After all, who can love your little one even half as well as you do? It is a very overwhelming process. So let’s break it down.
The first step is deciding on the setting that fits you and your family’s needs. This article will give a high-level overview to break it down for you. Just understanding the basics may point to the option that best suits your family.
Daycare Centers are typically larger, established companies. This provides comfort for some parents as this is option is likely the most highly regulated by licensing bodies.
- Pros: Structured setting. Socialization for children. State-mandated ratios. Many develop a reputation in the community, pointing you to a more desirable facility.
- Cons: Many are crowded, less personalized care. Exposure to more germs than an in-home care setting. Your child will not be able to attend if they are ill, and you will need alternate care. Some facilities have long wait lists to get in. (It isn’t uncommon in some cities to see a wait list run longer than a year.) Schedule is typically rigid. Child needs to conform to the daycare schedule. Hours are also usually rigid and you are charged by the minute if you are tardy for pickup.
- Pricing: A very big variance between locations and can even vary greatly between centers. Typically more affordable than hiring help to come to your home, but not always. Some centers’ costs are comparable to annual tuition cost for an elite college.
In-Home Daycares are typically smaller than daycare centers, providing a more intimate setting. Some are licensed and some are not, which will require you to do a little more homework. In-home daycares are a middle ground between larger centers and one-on-one in-home care.
- Pros: Socialization for children in a more homey setting than a larger facility. Hours may be a little more flexible compared to large, more established facilities. Smaller daycares may be more accommodating to your child’s personal schedule. Typically the most affordable of all childcare options.
- Cons: Exposure to more germs than the home setting. Your child will not be able to attend if they are ill, and you will need alternate care. As mentioned above, more “homework” is required, meaning you should verify the daycare is licensed. If it is not, even more diligence on your part is required to verify safety standards and policies of adult visitors, run a background check, etc.
- Pricing: Costs vary per location and daycare but are typically the most affordable of childcare options.
In Home Care
Nannies can most closely provide the specific care you want for your child in the home setting. This is preferable for many parents, especially when the child is young. There is a wide range of other childcare-related duties a nanny may perform. To understand more about a nanny’s role and other in-home childcare-related care services, check out Great Expectations.
- Pros: One-to-one care and attention. Flexibility around your child’s schedule. You won’t have to pack up the child to bring somewhere before work, decreasing morning stress. If your schedule requires flexibility, many nannies can provide that. (Be sure to discuss that up front.)
- Cons: Many responsibilities come with being a household employer. Be sure to check out articles on Via The Village such as Hiring a Nanny: The Step-by-Step Guide and Domestic Employer Rights and Wrongs to understand more. Also, the nanny contracts can help guide the process.
- Pricing: Nannies can be one of the more costly routes of childcare. Consider nanny sharing to curb the cost by up to a third less. More on that in Nanny Sharing: An Innovative Option.
Babysitters are commonly used for evening care or if you need childcare on a more occasional basis. Babysitters or sitters differ from nannies. Sitters are typically younger with less experience and may not be equipped to handle multiple children or duties other than basic childcare responsibilities. Adjust your expectations as to not expect the same level of care from a babysitter that you would from a professional nanny.
- Pros: Since childcare is not typically a babysitter’s career job, they may be more flexible with the hours you need care. They may not require a guaranteed number of weekly hours. They are more affordable than professional nannies.
- Cons: Many have other jobs or are students, so their schedule cannot always accommodate your needs. With inexperienced babysitters, be sure to assess competency in caring for the specific age group of your child. Care may not be as autonomous as by other providers. You may need to provide more guidance and be more readily accessible for questions.
- Pricing: More affordable than some of the other childcare options. But understand, you also may not receive much more than the title alludes, baby sitting. Minimal responsibilities are typically expected of a sitter, i.e., after the child goes to bed, a babysitter sits.
So there it is. Of course, this is a very basic overview. Check out more of our reads and guidance on Via The Village. We are here to help you find ease in the process.