I finally decided that the first topic I wanted to talk about was childcare. Not a discussion of should you, as a parent, work, but a discussion of what options are out there to fit the different scenarios you might find yourself in where you need childcare.
The first option that many people have is having a family member (or friend) care for your baby. Sometimes a family member is in a position where they are not working and they are able to care for your child part or full time.
Things To Consider
This is very dependent on how close you are to family, both in a relationship sense as well as location. Do you have someone you trust to watch your child in your family? If so, do they live close enough that they would be willing? There are many questions that go into this sort of setup. Would you want them to watch your child at your house or at theirs? Though they may prefer their own place, is it baby proof? If the childcare takes place at your house then things like clothes and diapers are already set up, as are a safe sleeping area and play area. Does the person have experience caring for children? If they don’t have kids of their own, or even if they do, it is worth requesting that they take a child and infant CPR and first aid class.
- Generally the cheapest option, as in free
- Your child will be getting extra quality time with family
- You know that the values they will be seeing are ones you agree with
- Some family may feel like they know how to parent better than you and make their own judgement calls
- Schedule can be variable since they see it as a favor
- Less socialization for your child
Mother’s Day Out Program
Mother’s day out programs are generally designed to give stay at home mothers some time alone to get errands and projects done. The care tends to be for 5-6 hours for a few days a week. If you work part time or from home, or just need a little time each week this can be a great option.
Things To Consider
The cost is less than full time daycare, but it has many of the same benefits. When we were looking, the programs near us cost about $100 per month per day that the child attended. In Texas, these programs are required to be certified by the state if they offer care three or more days a week. You can search for the requirements in your state. In Texas, care center inspections are public record, so you can see what previous inspections have turned up. If you consider using a mothers day out program, is there one close to you? Do they offer a schedule that will work for you? Near us, mother’s day out programs tend to be run out of churches. Would that bother you if it is a church of a different denomination or religion? Children are generally divided by age, and transfer from one class to the next each year.
- Cheaper than full time daycare
- Great socialization for your child
- Regular set schedule
- Oversight by regulations in some cases
- Shorter hours than a full time daycare
- Possibly religiously based
- Some do not provide food
- Children may change teachers as they age
- Rules are set; you have less input into what your child does
Traditional daycares are generally centers that have several classrooms which separate children out by age. Some are also preschools which offer curriculum tailored to the child’s age. Care can run from as early as 6 am to 6 pm depending on the center, and is offered five days a week.
Things To Consider
Traditional daycare is expensive. Most centers cost about $200 a week here in Texas, more if your child counts as an infant. Many are not religiously based, and there are a variety of teaching styles available. Most daycares have the children change classes each year, which means a new teacher and possibly new friends. Will you have a problem with a different set of teachers each year? With so many kids together there is also a tendency to pass around infection. Can your schedule handle sick days?
- Schedule fits a traditional full time work schedule
- Great socialization
- Educational programs at most
- Meals provided at many
- All are regulated by the state (to varying degrees)
- Pay for the whole week whether they use all five days or not
- Possibly more illnesses than if the child stayed at home
- New teachers and classmates every year can be tough for some children to cope with
- Rules and curriculum are set, you have less input into what your child does
In Home Daycare
An in home daycare is when someone decides to set up paid childcare in their own home. In Texas these centers can be listed, registered, or licensed. Listed has no state-performed inspections, while registered and licensed have regularly scheduled and surprise inspections performed by the state, the results of which can be viewed on the state website. Licensed providers also have published standards to meet and more frequent inspections. Check for the requirements in your area–generally the same agency that deals with child protection services is also in charge of daycares. You can see a review of requirements and reports for your state, along with other helpful resources, at ChildCareAware.org. These types of daycare normally cost about the same as a center, possibly a little less. Some are willing to allow you to pay for part-time and use only a certain number of days a week, but some are not. Some offer food programs where they provide the meals each day. Some offer a full preschool education as well.
Things To Consider
When considering an in home daycare you need to know what level of regulatory oversight you are comfortable with and confirm that the daycare meets that. Can you handle the research required for this? Since there is normally only one person operating an in home daycare your child will not have to change teachers as they grow, but you need to be sure that you are comfortable with that person. This main person also means you will be able to talk about what you want for your child. In home daycares normally have fewer children. This means your child will have a smaller group of friends, but there will also be less illness spreading around. Will you child do okay with people starting school and leaving the daycare each year? The children are normally all together, or separated out into a toddlers/preschool group and a babies group. Would you be comfortable with your child socializing mainly with children of other ages?
- More individualized care for your child
- Possibly a little cheaper
- Less illness
- More consistency with teacher
- Smaller friends base
- If the care provider is sick the daycare is closed
- Less time focused on age specific learning since all ages are present
Nannies are where you hire a single person to care for your child/children. Nannies are generally expensive but very personalized. Nannies can be a good option for some people, but it is important to remember that in some cases you count as their employer. If you hire a nanny through a service you generally just pay their fee, but if you choose to hire an individual then you need to remember to deal with the tax issues. As an employer you have some tax liabilities you need to pay for your employee, and it is important to be full aware of that before you decide to hire your own nanny.
Things to Consider
Nannies are the most expensive option in most situations. You do get a single person to care specifically for your child, rather than sharing a single teacher’s attention among several children. A nanny would get very close to your child since they were caring for them every day. Would you get jealous of your child’s affection for their caregiver? Your child doesn’t get an instant set of playmates in a nanny situation like they would in a daycare setting. Would you be able to set up play groups and such to help your child make friends? Some nannies are available to stay late or work on the weekend. Some can even become live-in nannies, which are expensive but give you assistance night and day. Since a nanny would normally come to your house, you would have to find someone you trust. Would you be comfortable having someone in your house all the time even when it wasn’t clean? Would you be able to deal with one nanny possibly being bad and stealing from you? It would be up to you to provide all the supplies and food a nanny would need while caring for your child.
- Most individualized care
- Some do housework while they watch the child
- Your child could develop a strong bond with their caregiver
- Very expensive
- Tax situation can be tricky
- Possibility of untrustworthy nanny
- Need to establish socialization for the child
If you have to choose a child care provider there is no one right answer. You have to balance cost with availability and quality of care. If you work odd hours it can limit what options you have. The most important thing in my experience is to trust the provider and have a good line of communication. This way if there are issues you feel comfortable talking about them and you can find the best solution for you and your child.