The great childcare debate: to nanny or not?

Daycare fun

The great childcare debate.

CRUNCH deets:
You’ve heard horror stories about nannies. And you’ve heard horror stories about daycare. And the thought of leaving your sweet bundle of joy with one or the other is making you, well, horrified. A decision has to be made so… what to do?

The Fix:
Relax. And then ask around.

Fix deets:
A good friend of mine recently made the switcheroo from nanny to daycare. She was feeling understandably stressed and we had a good heart to heart. Coincidentally, this was the day after the season four premiere of Downton Abbey, which likely made a dent in’s bottom line. Fear not, peeps. Nanny West was awful, granted, and fooled almost everyone, indeed, but there are many a Mary Poppins out there ready to rock your world. We had THE BEST nanny ever (EVER!) before Lola came along. We’ve also had great daycare experiences, which were super important for our introverted kids. Here’s what to consider when weighing your options:

A nanny…

  • costs about the same as daycare for two munchkins. A live-in nanny costs less but it’s a similar ballpark once you pay for her food/water/heat.
  • has extra costs you might not be aware of, like CPP, EI, and WSIB, at least if you’re keeping it legit. You can definitely save moolah by paying under the table but we don’t advise it. Bad karma and potential future legal complications… NOT worth it even when you consider the CRA headache. Why, oh why, can nothing CRA be straightforward?!
  • is cheaper and can provide good socializing if you share with another fam. But that adds extra complications, so tread carefully if you go that route. Good friends often forget common sense and common courtesy when money’s on the table.
  • is someone you can leave your monkey with when he’s slightly under the weather so you don’t have to “work from home”/Tylenol him up for daycare/hustle for backup because you can’t miss another meeting. She also won’t have any inconvenient rules about your kid being quarantined for an extra twenty-four hours after an illness.
  • will feed your kid exactly what you want her to. Whether he eats it is another story.
  • will support you and all of your cloth diaper/susu/stroller nap decisions.
  • will form an intense bond with your child and become part of your family. Which is totally amazing and also totally painful the minute your baby runs to her first.

And daycare…

  • teaches tots how to share, play, listen to instruction, and get along in the real world. The awesomeness of this should not be underestimated.
  • usually has more eyes and ears, so less likelihood of a Nanny West situation… at least in theory. I still smart when I remember observing Alex’s daycare teacher mockingly imitate his toddler stutter, and has anyone else wondered how the eff this could happen in a bustling OR?
  • exposes them to germs which, while hyper-annoying, builds their immune systems Superman-style. Seriously guys, there are studies linking daycare kids with a lower likelihood of leukemia. Yowza.
  • is less work. You hand over a cheque (remember, those funny paper things people used to use back in the olden days?), they look after your kid, and… that’s it. Unless you’re an accountant or want to hire one, nannying comes with paperwork that takes up far. too. much. time even for the math-inclined. Have I mentioned how frustrating the CRA can be?
  • gets separation anxiety outta the way early so there won’t be tears on his first day of school. At least not from him.
  • provides a great social network for the whole fam. You need support too.

So, it sorta boils down to socializing versus convenience and of course money. To make the decision, we’d recommend that you:

  • spread the word wide and far to get referrals for both options. But make sure you trust the referee.
  • interview as many people/places as you can until you find THE ONE.
  • think twice before handing over your wallet to anyone who’s trying to squeeze you, especially if you’re desperate. On the flip side, don’t get overly psyched about a situation that seems too good to be true. We experienced both sides of that coin in the same brutal week when our cheaper than the norm daycare went bankrupt and then another local biz (emphasis on BIZ) charged us a hefty fee to hold a spot for ONE day while we scrambled. Similarly, any nanny requesting the moon in your first convo isn’t worth it, and alternatively, if she’s doing the cleaning, laundry, cooking, and ironing, you might want to think about who’s watching/teaching/nurturing your babe.
  • don’t attempt a nanny steal even if you make a solid bond. No matter how awesome she seems, if she’s sketch enough to ditch her current gig then she won’t hesitate to ditch you too. Cough cough, Dean McDermott, cough cough.
  • put everything in writing, as in contracts with a daycare, nanny, or anyone you plan to nanny-share with. Sure it might be an awkward conversation, but it also might save a big legal/financial headache down the road.
  • pay attention to your munchkin’s behaviour. Some resistance is normal but if it continues on or you notice other troublesome symptoms, DO NOT ignore your gut or your kid.
  • don’t be afraid to switch it up if your situation’s not working, just like my clever friend.

Remember this:
You’ll be happy with whatever decision you make if it’s based on a good reco and you stay on the ball. He’s resilient, and will be fine either way as long as you’ve got his back. Always.

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