In our series The Debate, our community of real moms tackle the pros and cons around common parenting choices. The truth is, like so many decisions around child rearing, there is no right or wrong answer. At HATCH, our job is to give voice to both sides of any debate, peppering real mom wisdom with the necessary facts so that you can make the best decision for you and your family.
For many women – once their nipples have healed, they’ve stopped spotting and have successfully moved on to toilet paper verses a squirt bottle – the caregiving decision is the next uphill battle in their newfound role of mother. These days most of us don’t have the luxury of choosing whether to go back to work (and tbh, we kinda love kicking ass at work) and we’re no longer living in villages surrounded by close family who can tend to our children while we’re out there running sh*t. So the question comes into play of who exactly will care for our kids during the workweek, and in what capacity.
The caregiver choice commonly breaks down into “nanny,” who will come to you, or a daycare, where you will bring babe there. The decision over which to choose isn’t an easy one and often there’s no right answer, as much of it depends on income, living situation, who else is at home and of course, personal preference. One thing’s for sure though. Whatever you choose, having another person care for your child will, in no way, impact their love for you.
“It’s amazing to have people in a child’s life who they can turn to,” says Dr. Aliza Pressman, pediatric expert, co-founder of seedlings group and host of the “Raising Good Humans” podcast. “People who are trustworthy and loving, whether they’re a caregiver in your home or at school, can add tremendous value to your child’s life and their capacity to love.”
We hear from two women in our incredible community, one who opted for a nanny and one who chose daycare, on why their choice worked for them.
Vice president of client services
“I was very lucky because I was in a situation where I got three-and-a-half months of maternity leave. My husband is a trainer and a coach at a gym, so I knew he’d be able to have a flexible schedule. Before we arranged my maternity leave, we figured out how one of us could always be home four days a week. We got on a few waitlists for daycares in our neighborhood and then started looking for a nanny just to be safe. I found that good nannies are like real estate, the best ones aren’t available for months and months on end. It was also going to be more complicated for us because we were looking for a part-time nanny. So we looked into everything.
I began posting my nanny search on Upper East Side Mommas and suddenly it was like the nanny bat signal. All of these recommendations started pouring in. I probably interviewed about three to five women in total. One person seemed lovely, but she was prosthelytizing a lot, talking about her religion. It just seemed out of place within the context of what we were interviewing her for. One woman seemed really stern….I mean we had a four-month-old baby. I’m sure they’re all fantastic people. One woman was a younger Irish student who we loved who was here for graduate school, but she was going back home sooner than later.
The nanny I ended up hiring is fortunately the nanny I still have. She was open to part-time because she was in business with someone in her family and she wasn’t needing full-time employment. She’s worked with other families before, she’s a grandmother and she had that grandmother feel when she walked in. It was a generally easy decision that we felt great about.
I think the best part about having a nanny is that in our case, that continuity and loving presence we’ve had in our lives has truly been a blessing. We don’t have family in New York City and she’s been a wonderful, loving, bonus grandmother to our kids. She’s totally different – we’re Irish Catholic, she’s from Trinidad – so she’s giving them a different sense of traditions. She loves them and there’s no boundary there. Also, as a working mom, especially as someone who travels once in a while, I have to stay late or get on an early flight. She comes early. She’s very flexible and willing to help us in that regard. With daycare, maybe there are some policies that could help with this, but what if I need my kids covered at 6:00am? I think having something more set in stone would be difficult at least in the early years.
The only downside to the nanny relationship is that we had to find backup care when she had a health issue, which lasted about six to eight weeks, and then she wasn’t able to pick up our son for a while. But that type of thing can happen whenever you’re dependent on one person for something. So if you’re going to pursue a nanny, you should think about back up care – someone you can call in the event they can’t come in, where conversely, when there is a system like daycare – there’s more built around it. As amazing as a nanny is, they’re only one person.”
All Daycare All the Time….
Edie, 18 months
“My husband and I both have demanding full time jobs that are pretty typically 9am to 5pm (or later), five day a week. When I got pregnant and we started to picture the kind of childcare that would work for us, it revolved around the idea of having a nanny. We figured that someone who could be in our home, maybe helping out in other areas beyond childcare, like getting dinner going on a night we’re running late, or a bit of light housekeeping, would be really nice. That was always our plan.
When our daughter Edie was about six weeks old, we started interviewing nannies. I personally found the entire experience extremely awkward. We would talk about their experience, I would ask about their views on discipline, nap schedules, feeding, playing. I’d watch these women play with Edie to get a sense of their general demeanor and attitude. Yet somehow, when push came to shove, the whole thing made me feel really uncomfortable. There are very subtle nuances that go into having someone in your space all the time. Plus, what if I wanted to work from home one day? Would we all be holed up in my small, two-bedroom apartment? Personally, I couldn’t think of anything more uncomfortable. Plus, I’m the kind of person where if I’m home working and my baby is crying, I’d just as soon run into her room rather than wait for someone else to do it.
Maybe it was a sense of guilt and privilege I was feeling in having someone else care for my daughter, but we started looking into daycare options. With daycare, you don’t get that in-home experience with meal prep, or laundry, but I think I felt more comfortable with our child being out in the world than holed up at home. Plus, in determining the salary of a nanny, I still had to shell out money for classes like music and tumbling or whatever socialization, whereas with a daycare she’d be in a class with other children and doing all of these wonderful, enriching activities. Daycares don’t call in sick, nor do they have to leave early to take their own kids to the doctor. They’re never late. It really revolves around your schedule entirely. And, while daycares can’t sleep over if my husband and I go on a weekend trip to Miami, we do have relatives we can rely on for those kinds of trips we just plan it out far enough.
In the end we opted for a daycare in our neighborhood that our daughter can stay at until kindergarten. It’s happy and peaceful and clean and she’s happy to go every morning. She’s made little friends who live in our neighborhood and we can totally see the benefit from having socialized her at such a young age. When I’m working late, I can pick her up on the later side, and when I get an afternoon off, I can go grab her then. There really is tons of flexibility and I like the idea that she’s out of our home and with other kids – even if we’re stuck with the laundry.”