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.
- 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!
- 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
- 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
- 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
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)
- 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
- 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.