We´ve been touring daycare centers and preschools for a while now, asking questions and comparing our options after each newly visited facility. We have one daughter but are hoping to expand our family in the next year or so, and so my thoughts drift to the issues of childcare once the second baby is born.
Obviously, cost is a major concern. In Los Angeles, the centers we´ve visited have run about $500 a month for a part time program and $900-$1000 per month for full time care.
Multiply that number by two and you´ll see our dilemma.
I realized how bad it was when my doctor stated that half of her paycheck goes to childcare each month.
I´ve been researching our options for a while now: daycare centers, preschools, in home care. Each offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and I suppose the key is to balance these with my family´s needs before choosing the right placement.
This week I´ll share some of the advantages and disadvantages that I´ve found for each setting in hopes that it will help other mothers who are also embarking on a search for childcare.
In Los Angeles, nannies abound. I´ve met and spoken to quite a few while out and about with my daughter. Some help with cleaning and cooking while the kids nap. Others show up for a few hours each weekend if the parents need to run errands. I met one group of nannies at a local park. They meet up each day at different sites (park, story time, mall) so that their kids can socialize while also being involved in local community activities.
Your children are in your home. You know that it is safe and clean and well protected.
Your child can be involved in local classes, such as dance, music, and art.
You can control their diets, keeping healthy snacks and food options in the house.
They nap in their own bed and can follow the same schedule that you follow on the weekends.
The nanny comes to your house. You don´t need to drive somewhere to pick her up.
Some nannies help with meals and housework as well.
You have the end power of hiring help for your child. You can discuss with this person her views on discipline and what type of classes or experience she has had regarding childcare and development. You can get to know her more intimately than you would a staff of people working in a childcare setting.
A nanny works alone. If she is tired or having a bad day, there are no other caretakers to help with your child. If she is sick, who will take her place?
Children can become dependent on the nanny if they are always with the same person.
If you hire live-in help you have to have the space for an additional adult living under your roof. Also, having someone else live in your home can present other challenges.
Nanny help is more expensive than daycare. If you choose to use an agency to help you hire a nanny, which is sometimes a great way to go because they can research and do background checks for you if you don´t have the time, you can expect to add on an additional $500-$5000 for your search.
Socialization. This is a big issue for me. I really want my daughter to be exposed to different children, not only in an unstructured setting, such as the park, but in a setting in which she is expected to sit down, complete activities, and share supplies. As a former teacher, I found that children who were not exposed to large groups of other children before entering kindergarten had a much harder time with the transition.
The following links offer additional information for parents searching for nannies.
http://www.4nannies.com/info/interview.cfm. This agency assists parents in finding qualified nannies. Fees are charged for some services, but these interview questions and several additional informational articles are provided free of charge.
http://www.childcare.org. Click on Parents, Child Care Choices, and then, halfway down the page, Nanny Care. This article lists items to consider when hiring a nanny.
http://www.4nanny.com/nanny_salaries.shtml. This short article tells how to determine what to pay a nanny and gives the results of the International Nanny Association´s 2003-2004 pay scale survey for various cities.