If you’re an expecting parent and planning to return to work, I know this topic is weighing on your mind: child care. Who will you trust to watch your little baby while you’re at work all day?
Both of us work full-time so we considered several options for this common dilemma. Daycare is a common solution, but there are also nannies and au pairs. Today I’m sharing the options we considered before deciding what option will work best for our family.
Child care options we considered and our ultimate decision to hire a live-in nanny
Daycare was the first option we considered seriously and there are definitely pros and cons for every selection. I looked into a lot of different daycares, specifically looking at the hours they were open and the prices. I found a huge spread of costs associated with the daycares in our area – ranging from the daycares in my suburb being relatively affordable (so, only one arm) to the daycares near my work (the Galleria area of Houston) costing more than my mortgage did in our previous house!
I’ve said before that my commute is typically an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half each way (gotta love Houston traffic) so I come home late. 7 pm late. Most daycares close at 6 pm. That was a big issue for us and a major player in our decision process. That was a reason I started looking into daycares closer to work because then I could drop in faster, maybe even stop by to breastfeed on my lunch breaks, but that obviously didn’t end up working out. In hindsight that was probably for the best, since no newborn really needs to be carted around the city for 3 hours a day in traffic. That’s stressful for everyone, and you can’t exactly stop and tend to the baby very easily while commuting to work.
Another concern I had with daycares is when the baby is sick, you can’t bring them. I mean, yes that makes sense because you don’t want to infect everyone else or others to infect your child – but it isn’t really practical to stay home from work at every sniffle, either.
Of course, then there’s the packing the baby up, making sure you brought enough extra clothes, diapers, wipes, food, etc. and the sad wails as you leave them in a strange new place. If you get stuck in even more traffic due to an accident or stay at work a little bit longer to finish a project, you may end up having to pay a late pick-up fee. And never mind trying to run any errands on the way home from work.
For us, daycare wasn’t the first choice, but we’re happy to have it as an option. I did find one daycare in our suburb located along my route that is open until 7 pm Mondays – Thursdays and 6:30 pm on Fridays. That one daycare was our only serious option. (We actually registered with them as a back-up so we can always drop in our little one if we need to.)
In-home child care considerations
Then we started talking about having someone watch our child in our own home. We looked at au pair options and talked about simply hiring someone as a nanny. We considered options for live in childcare and decided to hire a baby nanny.
The au pair option interested me because it was a way to get a cultural experience for our child. But there are two big problems for me with the au pair program – one is the huge upfront cost, though the weekly costs are affordable. The second, and biggest deal-breaker for us, is the au pair could only work 10 hours a day, up to 40 hours a week. That simply is not feasible for families who work full time and have a commute. I work 40 hours a week, drive 2.5-3 hours a day, plus take a lunch break (even if only 30 minutes). So I’m out of the house for up to 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. I absolutely need childcare for all that time.
So then we started looking for regular nannies. We discussed what we could afford based on our income and expected bills, including the big mortgage for our new big house and all the student loans we still have. We decided on a live-in option for several reasons, one of which is we could deduct rent. We ended up recently buying a really large house (in the same price range as other houses in the area, we just lucked out that this particular house has so many bedrooms) so we certainly have the space for someone to have her own bedroom and bathroom.
Another reason we wanted a live-in nanny is my husband is in the Army National Guard and is often away for a week here and there. He was also in the process of transitioning into the JAG Corps, so we knew he would need to be away for several months sometime in the upcoming future for training. I wanted another adult in the house with me while he was away, so I wouldn’t be by myself with a baby. So a live-in nanny was the best option since both our families are so far away.
I originally wanted to find a Russian-speaking nanny, since my family speaks Russian and that would provide a bilingual learning experience for my son all day. We interviewed a few Russian-speaking nanny options but kept running into issues of pay (some of the ladies we talked with wanted to be paid $2000+ a month! And that’s in addition to being live-in after rent) and some were afraid of dogs (we have two big dogs, who is afraid of dogs these days?). So we scrapped that idea and just started looking for a regular, American nanny.
I put up ads online (at places like Care.com and SitterCity.com) and specified exactly what I was looking for (an experienced nanny, a woman aged 40+, non-smoker, etc.). I certainly didn’t want someone my age or younger living with us, because I think that is a bit awkward, and I wanted someone with experience either raising her own kids and grandkids or just working for other families for some time. We received a ton of responses, many of which didn’t fit our “looking for” description, but we were able to weed out the applicants worth interviewing. And when we narrowed down our search, we would order a background check after the interview with the nanny.
A great thing about having child care inside our own home is we can check in on the baby whenever we want on our nanny cam. We have a camera set up in the living room, and one also in his bedroom, so we can check in any time. I don’t have to worry about getting him dressed and ready to go out in the world – I can leave him in his pajamas. I don’t have to think about packing a diaper bag and enough diapers and changes of clothes since the dresser is full and all the diapers and wipes are stockpiled. It has really made things easier for us to have the convenience of having our baby looked after in our own home.
What child care options did you consider?
P.S. If you are looking at hiring a nanny, I have prepared a Nanny Contract Template to help you hire your own nanny.
Read other posts from this child care and nanny series.
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I can’t believe you thought $2000/month ($500week) was TOO MUCH!! Are you serious? You want someone 60 hours a week!! Even a live in deserves at least minimum wage PLUS OVERTIME! $500/week is the least a live in should get for those hours!! Shame on you!!
I can’t agree more! Shame on you! You should also be providing meals for the nanny as well.
Like I said it wasn’t in the budget, and we had multiple people apply for that position. We did provide meals, the kitchen and pantry was always open. But thank you for your comment. Should we go the nanny route again one day we know we’ll need to save more to have a bigger budget for it. We’ll also not be able to have live-in anymore or charge rent.
So glad you found what worked for you. I definitely feel better with the idea of my little being looked after at our home, whilst I’m at work. 🙂 Hope the nanny cam is full of recordings that make you smile.
Something Crunchy Mummy says
Great post. Not every family is the same and we have to find what is right for them. #coolmumclub xx
In considering all the options when I was pregnant with #1, we decided that it would be best for me to stay home with him. I didn’t give it a second thought because I knew it was what I wanted to do regardless, so unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to me. I have considered now with #2 on the way if I wanted to maybe work part time and have a nanny take care of the kids in the morning, but I enjoy my time with my son, and I’m sure I’ll feel the same about my daughter. We’ll see though how much I can honestly take, LOL.
Thank you for sharing with us at the Friday Funday Blog Hop! #FFBH <3
Staying home is a great decision too, and I’m glad you have that opportunity 🙂
Trista, Domesticated Momster says
I live in such a small town that daycare options are very limited. Therefore, I’m glad I am able to stay home and relieve one less stress of parenting. I really don’t know how working moms juggle everything. Kudos to you! Thanks for linking up with #momsterslink.
That’s great that you’re able to stay home, definitely a good option to consider if available. Thanks Trista!
Debbie Rodrigues says
I had live-in nannies and I highly recommend it from the standpoint of the child.
It completes and supports the education and I have nothing but great memories.
I wish I still had contact with my last one.
Lots of great advice, Julie. Thanks for sharing it.
Thanks Debbie, what a great note on the experience from the child with the nanny. I’m doing a whole series on this, and would love to have you guest post if you’re interested.
I think you are the first person I know who has ever done this. Smart idea. If I had to do this over again, I would highly consider it to. I never had to leave mine with anyone as I worked part-time and childcare was not an issue. I’m glad this worked out for you. Thanks for sharing this important message to other parents at my party.
Thanks Michelle! I never realized what a complicated thing childcare was going to be, and there are so many decisions!
It is so wonderful that you were able to find a solution! Childcare is a tricky thing to work out. There are so many options and the costs can be so outrageous!
Thank you for sharing with us at #mommymeetupmondays!
Child care definitely tricky and scary/sad how much it can cost!
Nicole Orozco says
I work from home but the idea of having a nanny for 2-3 hours each so that I can focus just on work would be super nice!
Oh I bet, it is so hard to get anything done with the baby on weekends heh. (Since that is mostly when I work on my blog.)
I opted for the Child care because as a student I got University Child Care at a significant reduction (I actually got it free because I had financial aid but not everyone gets it for free. I got extraordinarily lucky) plus, for two semesters, I worked there as a student teacher and I absolutely adored that daycare/preschool. My oldest got into preschool under a free program for special needs kids. Massachusetts has many options for low-income families families with special needs, and for students. I wanted to be a nanny but at the time I was taking care of my own small children and parents weren’t interested in someone with kids. It’s understandable though. I think for you, this is a great idea for all of the reasons you listed. Popping over from #momsterlink
Oh Michelle, that’s wonderful that you were able to get child care from the university! I can definitely understand that parents, especially first-time parents, wouldn’t want a nanny with her own kids to look after. Unfortunately, the perception is the nanny’s attention and priority would not be on their child and yet they would still be paying for the child care. But now that I’m no longer a brand new mom, I can see the benefits too, especially if there is only one child and the ages are similar.
Healing Mama says
I think having a nanny is great! I used to nanny, and whenever I go back to work I would love to hire a nanny. I love how you mentioned the part about when the child is sick. With a nanny you don’t have to keep them home. What a great post.
Thanks hon!! I’d love to have you do a guest post about your nanny experience if you’re still interested 🙂 You like my infographic?
Brig a shift worker that works 12 hour shifts, I completely understand how difficult child care can be! Most of he childcare centers here won’t even take kids until they’re 16 months, and if they do its a huge wait list and very expensive. We live in a rural area so were unable to find anyone to come into our home to watch our kids. Thankfully I have some flexibility with my schedule so I have chosen to work opposite from my hubby mostly and fill in the gaps with grandparents. I’m glad you were able to find a solution that works for you! Would be interested in hearing how it goes 😀
Wow, they won’t take kids until they’re 16 months? That seems very strange and unfair. Day care centers here start as early as 6 weeks because that is how soon some moms have to go back to work. That’s awesome that you can control your schedule to work opposite of your husband and are able to use grandparents. This is when I get sad that we have no family near by.
Very interesting read! I’ve always been a SAHM, but when my older kids were little, we did try both a few days a week preschool and having an older lady (whose own kids were already grown) come to our house for several hours a few days a week so I could have a break to get other things done. The in-home care was definitely the most convenient option for all of us at the time.
I agree that in-home care is a very convenient option. I’m glad you were able to have that as well so you could get things done. I get so little done on weekends so I definitely feel for SAHMs. Thanks Jenny!
I think childcare is one of the hardest decisions as a parent, but you did a great job! I love how you and your husband made your decision. It’s really great that you’ll have someone there to help you when he’s away. With one child, my income would not have covered daycare, so I became a SAHM. When we had the twins, I was really glad for that! Childcare is so stinking expensive – I don’t even want to know how much it would cost to put all three kids in daycare!
OH man, 3 kids in daycare, you’re right that’s more than several mortgages! At least with a nanny you get to set your price and find someone who agrees to it, so you can control the cost and a nanny should not expect to be paid double if another child is added to the equation.
It sounds like you found a great solution! We briefly considered nanny care, but went the daycare route. But we don’t have the monster commute that you do which sounds like a huge additional factor! This was an interesting read – thanks for sharing!
Thanks Louise! Yea, both of us have terrible commutes, and with most day cares closing at 6pm, they weren’t much of an option. Thanks for reading!
[email protected] says
Hi Julie – I can see that Marilyn has already pinned and tweeted this for our #OTM link up – so I’ll just add that it was a really interesting read and I wish you all the best with your decision 🙂 Leanne
Thanks Leanne! 🙂 I’m doing a whole series on nanny and child care related topics 🙂
What a big decision but it sounds like an excellent one! My friends have nightmare stories about daycare. This would be a deeper relationship for your child. 🙂
That’s a really good point Leilani. The baby definitely likes the nanny. He often walks up to her and gives her a hug 🙂
Marilyn Lesniak says
Thank you for sharing at #overthemoon. Pinned and tweeted. This is a very hard decision to make. I m glad it is working well for you.
Thanks Marilyn 🙂
Erin @ Stay At Home Yogi says
Daycare was just not an option for us when I was working. The costs were more than what I made at the time. We ended up using family – my mom, and my mother-in-law. We didn’t have space for a nanny. Thanks for sharing your decision process.
Ugh see that’s what is so messed up about child care – sometimes it costs as much as a mortgage! That’s amazing that you had both Grandmas able to help out!
Good for you! It’s great if you can afford it. So many people think they can work whilst caring for their child, and you see the pattern on Super Nanny that it doesn’t work!
Yea, it is very hard to get anything done unless the child is napping. I know this well since I try to do a lot of blogging during weekends when I’m home with him, and he doesn’t let that happen.
Elle Spann says
i was put in daycare, but I think a lot has changed since 20+ years ago. this sounds like a better option.
Southern Elle Style
I think it depends on the needs and situation. If Day Care hours were more flexible we probably would have gone that usual route. We may end up using daycare when the little starts going to school.