Is daycare right for my family? Or should we use a nanny? Or should we look at a home-based option? There are so many options when it comes to childcare, and landing on a decision can be a hard process. Many families end up forming close relationships with daycare centers and find that their children thrive in a group setting. But not all daycares are created equal, and there is so much to consider when weighing other childcare opportunities. There are many things that are both ideal and not-so-ideal that are very specific to the daycare setting that you want to look at as you make your decision.
Here are some pros and cons to using a daycare and things to keep in mind as you begin your search.
Is daycare right for my family? Looking at the pros and cons.
The pros of using a daycare
Can be a more cost-effective solution
Daycare costs vary drastically by state. Mississippi has the lowest average cost per year at $5,436. Compare this to Massachusetts, which has an average cost per year of $20,913. Hiring a full-time nanny, on the other hand, costs a national average of roughly $30,000.
Because of the high costs involved but also the benefits of different types of care, some families opt for a hybrid approach to childcare. For instance, one parent adopting a 4-day work week, using a nanny for two days, and filling in the extra days with a daycare.
Daycares often bring in outside talent like local musicians or other artists
Many daycares will provide excellent activities and opportunities for children to be exposed to new things. If your child is engaging in activities during the week you don’t need to worry about scheduling extracurricular activities on the weekend. (But seriously, you shouldn’t feel pressure to do that until the kids are much older.)
There are always multiple care providers, including a supervisor, who will be managing the facility and making sure each child is cared for properly
Supervision is a big concern for parents who engage in-home care for their children. Daycares are on a constant mission to maintain their reputation through reviews, hiring processes, accreditations, and good supervision. This can go a long way to put parents at ease.
Don’t have to worry about your nanny getting sick or running late
The predictability of daycare is really helpful to parents who don’t want to worry about ever having to use a plan-B if their nanny (or family member) runs late, gets snowed in, has transportation issues, or otherwise can’t make it in.
Social benefits for all
There are the obvious social aspects for children but there is also a community there for you which is so incredibly necessary while you try to figure out this crazy new world of parenting.
Cons to using a daycare
There is not the one-on-one care some parents prefer for their children
There is no way around it--daycares look after groups of children and these groups are often quite large. There may be a lot for them to do, but there is not the same level of individual care or bond that many children get with a nanny.
Germs are one of the top concerns parents have about daycares and with good reason. Germs spread very quickly in daycare settings and little ones can catch illnesses like coxsackievirus, croup, and other not-very-fun stuff. This can cause a lot of stress and also lead to you taking a lot of time off work. But, if they aren’t exposed when they are little, they will one day when they go to school.
The “phase-in period”
In the beginning of the year, some daycares or schools require that parents help their children make a smooth adjustment. This means you or your partner will have to take time off from work. Sometimes it’s just a half a day on Monday and the rest of the week is regular but I’ve sent my son to pre-schools that had me bring him for two hours the first day and half days the rest of the week. It can be majorly inconvenient for your productivity that week.
Daycares and schools close
Unlike a nanny or a nanny share, a daycare will close at the end of the day and you have to be there to pick up your child by 6pm or 6:30pm. Some parents just can’t make this work, which means daycare isn’t for you. They are also closed on some holidays when you still have work and can often close in bad weather even though your office is open.
Do you think that daycare is right for your family? It’s time to start the search! Head over to my blog post: How to prepare to interview a daycare.
More on childcare options:
Is a nanny right for my family?
Preparing to interview a nanny