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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Working Moms: Daycare vs. Homecare

By Jenny D & Tracy S, CharlotteSmartyPants

Tracy and I have a lot in common; we both work, are moms of two, and live in the same neighborhood. One thing that we don't have in common is our children's daycare situation. Tracy has chosen daycare, and I have chosen to have in-home care. We thought it might be beneficial to lay out the pro's and con's of each to help those new mom's who might need to make this decision soon or if you're considering a change in your current set up.

Jenny says:

Having someone come to my house is wonderful. Your child gets to stay at his or her house everyday, take naps in the crib she is familiar with and play with her favorite toys. As a working mom, the mornings are much easier as I don't have to pack up Zoe and Annie's stuff and load them in the car. Since I am rarely on time, this is a huge plus for me. Plus with my husband traveling as much as he does, it would be really hard to have to do drop-off and pick-up every day. This way my daycare comes to me. My mother-in-law watches the girls and I also have a babysitter who fills in when I need back-up

Some of the potential downsides include the lack of interaction with other children. We are lucky because my babysitter has a child the same age as Zoe, so this has not been a problem. She also attends preschool three mornings a week which gives her plenty of structure and fun time with other children.

In-home care can be much more expensive than daycare if you choose a nanny. However, there are options that can allow you to have a nanny if you are trying to manage cost. When I was pregnant, a friend of mine and I decided that we would share a nanny. The plan was to have the nanny come to my house for a week and then my friend's house the next and share the cost. My friend ended up sharing a nanny with someone on her street and it worked out perfectly for them. This is a wise choice once you have more than one child, the cost of a nanny does not double like most daycares do, so it can become more affordable the more kids you have.

Another benefit of a nanny is the ability to offer a fixed pay or hourly. Hourly pay is a good option for mom's who work part-time or have some help from relatives and need "fill-in" care.

Tracy Says:

We never really considered a nanny because I always had it in my head that it was too expensive for just one child. Not that daycare is cheap by any means (especially now that we will be paying for two!), but the daycare route we went ... and have been very happy with our decision. Jake is 4 now so his day care is actually more of a preschool. The things they do day to day simply amaze me! He has access to so many more opportunities and resources than I would be able to provide for him if it was just me. The social interaction is another huge plus - he loves his friends and teachers and has wonderful stories to tell us about nightly. The other huge bonus for my husband and I is that he is close to us during the day when we are at work. This is gives us the opportunity to go have lunch with him, join in on some of the cool activities they do, enjoy parent socials, or be close by if he gets sick or hurt during the day. Another big advantage is if your teacher is out sick or wants to take a vacation, you are not left in a lurch.

One of the downsides of daycare is that kids are exposed to more germs and you have to find alternate arrangements if your child then gets sick. We talked about this in a previous post, Sick Days for Your Kids. Also, it is often hard to get in to the good ones - a lot of times there are extensive waiting lists - so get your name added as soon as you know you need daycare. Most places will not let you get on the list until you are officially pregnant, sometimes even requiring a doctor's note. And plan to pay an application fee - anywhere from $30 to $75 per daycare application.

One last thing to consider - and this can be a pro as well as a con. Daycares have lots of rules they have to follow. And the higher the daycare rating, the more strict the rules. This ranges anywhere from the amount of paperwork you have to fill out and the amount of time the children spend outside to policies on dispensing medication and the kind of sunscreen you can bring for reapplication throughout the day. These rules and regulations are primarily driven by the state and the daycare rating system (what makes a 5-star daycare 5 stars) and are mostly in place to help maintain the safety and well being of your child (pro) but can also be extremely frustrating at times (con).

Whichever route you decide to take, be sure that it works for you. Having someone else care for your child is hard enough - you want to make sure you're comfortable with your choice. As always, we've shared our own unique experiences with each option of child care, so please share your experiences with nannies or daycares or other means of child care all together.


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