The decision to place your children in someone else’s care – ie daycare or with an au pair can be awfully stressful.

There’s the emotional aspect (“Am I making the right choice?”), the financial aspect (“Can I really afford it?”), and then there’s the opinion of every friend and family member that comes out of nowhere.

Whilst the concept can be daunting, luckily, there are a myriad of options available to parents who are looking to return to work, seeking time alone at home to run a small business or who just want their children to enjoy some variation each day.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of nannies, au pairs and regular daycare.

Hiring a nanny

A nanny is professionally trained to care for children and can offer you versatility with respect to your personal routine.

Cost: Approximately $20-$35 per hour depending on experience and training.

Pros:

  • Can live in or come to your home as per a schedule that you agree upon
  • Has appropriate child care training and necessary certifications — experience that counts!

Cons:

  • Can be an expensive option because of the one-on-one care given
  • Finding someone you get along with and trust unconditionally can be hard


Seeking the services of an au pair

An au pair typically is someone from another country who, in exchange for a nominated amount of money per week, as well as board and meals, becomes a full-time member of the family and a full-time caregiver of your children.

Whilst there are many benefits, this option is not for everyone.

Cost: Approximately $150-$300 per week

Pros:

  • One of the cheapest options available if you have the space in your home
  • A great cultural opportunity for everyone
  • Flexibility with respect to hours and responsibilities

Cons:

  • Typically, an au pair is not trained to work with children and may simply have experience looking after younger siblings
  • Arrangements are often short-term depending on unique visa requirements and individual travel plans
  • Having a stranger live in your home can be intimidating for the family

Organising daycare

Applying for daycare can mean filling in numerous forms and having to sit on a waiting list for quite some time, but there are several benefits to organising care for your children outside of the home. However, financial restrictions may inhibit this opportunity.

Cost: Approximately $60-$70 per day (can cost a lot more depending on whether the center is private or local)

Pros:

  • Children are introduced to structure, setting them up for life
  • Environment is safe and specifically designed for children’s needs
  • Meals are provided, taking a lot of pressure off families and giving children exposure to a variety of foods
  • Centres follow strict guidelines and offer a wide range of age appropriate activities
  • Caregivers are trained professionals who know how to educate and prepare children for school
  • Children are exposed to a range of experiences and behavioural scenarios

Cons:

  • Depending on the centre, the ratio of children to caregivers may be high
  • Children who are quieter may not get the same attention as louder children
  • The cost may be a deterrent, and in some cases, you may have to pay full price — even if you only want to use the center part-time
  • Waiting lists are often long

There are many other options available, including asking for help from relatives, looking into in-home daycare opportunities, or even hiring a ‘demi pair’ (an option like an au pair but with less working hours).

At the end of the day, whether you choose to hire a nanny, seek the services of an au pair or place your child in daycare, it is your own personal choice.

To make a start, take a look at the Gumtree nanny classifieds in your area. There are a huge number of child care professionals seeking work.

If you cannot find anyone that perfectly matches your needs, place an advertisement yourself and ensure you find the solution you need.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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  • We never considered an au pair or Nanny.

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  • yeah expensive to get child care for sure….

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  • Shame any quality childcare is so expensive.

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  • very interesting read and some sound advice for those thinking of child care.

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  • sounds awesome and looks great

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  • When checking out a centre ensure you go when they do not expect you as you will get an accurate picture of how the centre operates. A good centre allows parents to drop in as they have nothing to prepare and nothing to hide. An open door policy is best for parents and children.

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  • Im so glad that I was lucky enough to be able to stay at home with my kids.
    Childcare is such a nightmare

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  • They are very informative. Thank you.

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  • glad i havent had to face any of these options! I could imagine its a hard decision to make

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  • As a mum who has used many forms of childcare I think each and every family needs to think hard about what is important to them when it comes to childcare. Do you want affordability? Flexibility? Do you want in home care? Etc etc. I personally use several childcare options at once and find that works best for our family. My oldest is at school and the youngest at day care 2 days/week for social and educational interaction. We also host an Au Pair ( currently on our fifth) and have found it to be a great option as additional childcare. We are very picky with our au pair selection and ensure our au pairs have experience, maturity and life skills, all of which we think paramount for someone taking care of our children. We also really love the cultural education our family gains and have made lifelong friends from our Au Pairs. I agree, it’s not for everyone however it can’t be overlooked as a viable option for families, especially considering the inefficiencies, lack of availability and costs associated with other more conventional types of childcare. I’ve started a info site to help both families and Au pairs if anyone is interested in more information. http://www.aussieaupairmum.com

    No matter the option you choose, know that as a parent, you are always doing the best you can.

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  • interesting article but i won’t need one but very helpful for those who do

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  • In your article you mention that there are plenty of ads for local child care workers; instead of hiring an au pair from overseas surely it is better to hire a local qualified person from your community?

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  • Just a bit of caution – my friend had an au pair and they got terribly homesick as it was their first time away from home and she ended up with more stress rather than help. so if you go down this route make sure they have travelled before or stayed away from home.

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  • Some great pro and cons here, great for someone looking into the options

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  • I wasnt sure what to expect from this article but actually found it very informative

    Reply

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