Choosing a care provider for your kids is one of the hardest things a parent has to do. You are talking about hiring someone to look after your most-prized possession, for many hours a day, for potentially many months or years before they start school. This is a BIG decision. It doesn’t help that both nannies and daycares are expensive, sometimes prohibitively so. Then parents may face another decision — should one parent stay home and forgo a salary? Should a grandparent step in to provide childcare? These are tough decisions!
In North America many parents are entrenched in debates about what is best for children: being a stay-at home mother or father, using daycare, or using a nanny. Of course, these are not all equal, and not all stay-at-home parents, daycares, or nannies are equal. Some stay-at-home parents or nannies are uninspired and bored, and their lack of enthusiasm is inferior to daycare. Some daycares are unsafe, unclean, or over-capacity. We are not comparing apples to apples all the time. There are many factors to consider.
I cannot imagine how hard it must be to be a stay-at-home parent. Would I be as enthusiastic playing with my children day-in-day-out if I were home all year? Or is someone else better-suited for this most difficult task?
Cost to the various options is of importance, naturally. Stay-at-home parents forgo a salary. If this salary is more than the cost of daycare or a nanny, this may be a financial tipping point. Is the quality of childcare from a parent higher than that of daycare or a nanny? Surely, this is sometimes the case. In other families the parents may feel they would provide inferior care to their child. At the end of a weekend I am exhausted. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to be a stay-at-home parent. Would I be as enthusiastic playing with my children day-in-day out if I were home all year? Or is someone else better suited for this most difficult task? I am a great parent because I can also do what I do professionally, a job I adore.
Daycares are variably expensive. This depends on your location, child:caregiver ratios, whether they are government subsidized, meal inclusions and many other factors. Home daycares tend to be cheaper than larger daycare settings, and may provide a smaller child:caregiver ratios. Ensure that these are credentialed and they are following all guidelines.
If staffed by well-trained individuals such as early childhood educators (ECE) they can be very good environments in which to learn motor, communication and socialization skills
Daycare provides a simulating environment often filled with toys and books and fun people to play with. If staffed by well-trained individuals such as early childhood educators (ECE) they can be very good environments in which to learn motor, communication and socialization skills. Daycare is the most like school, preparing children for the years to come.
Nannies can be live-in or live-out. Live in caregivers are sponsored by the family under the Live-In-Caregiver Program in Canada and there are strict guidelines to their compensation, vacation, living situation and more. These caregivers live in your home, pay room and board (within specific guidelines), and the employer pays taxes. The minimal amount of pay is based on the current minimum wage.
Nannies may be more expensive for one child compared to daycare, but add another child in the mix and daycare may be cost prohibitive. Conversely, stay-at-home parents lose only one salary when they care for one or more children.
Live-out nannies usually charge $3-5 more per hour, in addition to taxes and often a stipend for travel to and from the employer’s house. This can cost the employer significantly more, though these nannies have been in Canada longer, have usually worked as nannies for more time and may have more experience. Some people may not have a room for the nanny to stay in, so live-out is the only option.
Do you have one child or more? Nannies may be more expensive for one child compared to daycare, but add another child in the mix and daycare may be cost prohibitive. Conversely, stay-at-home parents lose only one salary when they care for one or more children.
Having a nanny or stay-at-home parent allows children to nap in their own beds/cribs, and eat their own prepared food.
Nannies generally work in the environment you set up, your home. So you have more control over what the child is exposed too. Granted many nannies will set up play-dates (great for socialization) and your child may be in unfamiliar houses. Having a nanny or stay-at-home parent allows children to nap in their own beds/cribs, and eat their own prepared food. Some parents prefer the cooking at a daycare. There are many things to consider.
I think you should consider a few things when deciding who should care for your child during the day:
Who is the most enthusiastic and eager person to care for your child? This may be a parent. This may be a nanny if parents are not thrilled by the concept. This may be a daycare provider. You have to look at the options and weigh the benefits and downsides to each. Then do the best you can afford.
As much as we all wish this wasn’t a factor, it is. Most of us do not have endless amounts of money and need to make hard decisions. This begins with child care for your little ones and continues to primary schools, high schools, university, after school programs and the like.
Where do you think your child will be most safe? A particularly overburdened daycare may not be the best choice if you have the means to do something else. A reckless nanny is not a great option. Some parents may not be the best option either.
This is huge for me. I believe all children should be exposed to other developmentally similar children. Whether you are a parent or nanny who takes the child to the community centre, library or park often, or are in a developmentally appropriate daycare, kids need to be stimulated. Kids should be played with one on one, read to, taken outside to play and have an opportunity to play with other kids.
There are areas of the country where there are few options. If no daycares or nannies are accessible, parents may have no choice but to stay home. Metropolitan centres often have more options, though there may be higher demand and long wait lists. An excellent daycare down the street is going to be a great option. Having to drive or take public transport for an hour or more each day with your child may be less desirable.
The most desirable option may be out of reach. Some parents would love to stay at home, but this isn’t financially feasible.
At the end of the day each family has to decide what is the best option for them. The most desirable option may be out of reach. Some parents would love to stay at home, but this isn’t financially feasible. Some parents strive for the very ‘best’ daycare, only to find out it is too expensive or the wait list is too long.
My hope is that all of us are able to find affordable, safe, enriching childcare for our children.