Your bundle of joy has arrived and you and your partner couldn’t be more excited.  You are finally starting to get into a routine when reality hits: it’s time to start thinking about going back to work.  Most mothers are not emotionally ready for this transition which can make this decision very stressful and confusing. Some people are lucky enough to have family who are willing to help, but for most people it’s between hiring a nanny or sending their child to daycare.  This can be a daunting process, however it doesn’t have to be.

The first step is to list the pros and cons for each option.

Nanny Pros

For starters, no one likes to start their day off stressed. One of the biggest pros to hiring a nanny is to help alleviate the morning chaos.  With a nanny, parents don’t have to worry about the following:

  • waking their child up early
  • making breakfast and lunches
  • juggling drop offs and pickups

A nanny can also stay home with your child if they are sick.  This is something a lot of parents don’t take into consideration. For instance, your child had a fever last night, but is now fever free and feeling great.  But many daycares have a policy that states children must be fever free for 24 hours before returning. You or your partner end up taking a vacation day to stay home with your child.  If you hire a nanny, he/she could care for the child and you both can still go to work.

“A home environment is warm and familiar, child-proofed to mom and dad’s standards, and parents can set schedules that work for them and not the other way around,” says Lexy Lionel, the founder of Nannies and Housekeepers U.S.A.” – Healthline.com

Overall having a full-time nanny is a flexible and convenient option that offers consistent care for your child.  Some people are even lucky enough to find one that not only cares for their child, but cooks and cleans too!

Nanny Cons

First and foremost, they can be expensive!  Nannies are typically more expensive than daycares, although there may not be much of a cost differential if you have more than one child in daycare.  You also will run into a problem if your nanny is late or is sick. Unless you have backup care in place, which most people do not, this will greatly impact your plans.  

Another con to consider is that nannies are not required to have any childhood education or certifications.  This doesn’t mean you can’t find one that does, just make sure to do your homework and at the very least make sure they are CPR certified!

If you choose to hire a nanny, you are now an employer.  Chances are, you will be paying them more than $2,000 per year, which means you will owe employment taxes.  Consider keeping your nanny “on the books” with NannyPay, an inexpensive, DIY payroll software that calculates taxes automatically.

Daycare Pros

One of the biggest positives about daycare is the cost. It is almost always cheaper than hiring a nanny because you are sharing the cost with other families.  Of course there may not be much of a cost differential if you are paying daycare for more than one child.

Daycare also helps your child develop social skills while growing and learning with other children.  They typically offer a wide variety of toys, games and play equipment that you may not have at home. Some daycares even offer set meals! Not only does this mean no meal packing for you, but your child could also be exposed to new foods.

“Daycare ensures children are exposed to situations and activities that can’t be replicated in a family or one-on-one environment,” says Heather Stallard, early years consultant at Astec Solutions Ltd. – Healthline.com

Teachers and providers at daycares are often trained professionals who specialize in early education and have any state required certifications.  

Daycare Cons

While there are many daycare pros, there are also a few obvious (and not so obvious) cons.

Germs and illnesses are inevitable in daycares!  No matter how clean they keep their facility, there are still germs. To piggyback on that, daycares have strict sick policies.  As we stated earlier in the article, this will require taking vacation days or scrambling for last minute back up care.

There are also more accidents that happen in a daycare environment.  It is impossible to have eyes on every child at all times, so bites, falls, bumps and bruises will happen.  

Finally, daycares run on specific hours, so if you are late you will likely get charged a fee.  If your work hours are more sporadic, you may need more flexibility than daycares offer.

Nothing is Permanent

Each family’s situation is unique, so it’s up to you and your partner to determine what works best for you.  Think about your child and what is most important to your family. Do your homework! Visit different daycares and interview different nannies to see what the best fit would be. Remember that this decision isn’t permanent and you can always change your situations based on your family’s needs.