For parents expecting their first child or parents who’ve recently had a child, childcare brings up a lot of questions: What are my options? Daycare or nanny? Do my partner and I want to tag team childcare? Most parents I counsel want to know the difference between childcare options and figure out which one is right for them. But many are also concerned about finding the best care for their children without forgoing half of their combined income. Anxieties run high when parents think of leaving their child in the care of another person. Luckily, there are several choices when it comes to childcare in NYC – some more traditional than others.
Here’s a rundown of choices to give expectant parents some peace of mind.
Daycare: For anxious parents looking for direction or those with an easy-going child, daycare can be a great option. If you’re lucky enough to have a reputable daycare in your neighborhood, take a tour and see how you like it. Most facilities have very well-trained staff who love and understand the needs of babies. Daycare can also be soft on the pocketbook; on average, it will cost between $300-$800 less per month than a nanny.
Pluses: No one will be calling in sick and most are open on holidays, should you need to run errands (or have a day to yourself!). Also, kids get plenty of socialization.
Minuses: Getting yourself and your baby out the door on time can be a challenge for some. You’ll need to stay home if baby is sick, and your child will get less personalized attention.
Tips: Take a tour and meet the caretakers at the daycare. Check out how you feel and try to imagine if you could see yourself there.
Nanny: One of the more common routes parents go in the city is to hire a nanny. Nannies are wonderful additions to a family and especially helpful for parents who have odd working hours or jobs that tend to run later than 6 p.m. Also, since this type of childcare is in-home, parents feel safe knowing the child is sleeping in his or her own bed, and getting more individual attention. Often, a nanny can help with dishes or get dinner started if you so desire.
Pluses: Nanny comes to you, and can cover you if you’re working late (or want to slip away for a weekend).
Minuses: The expense of a nanny, and your new role as a HR manager. You are responsible for an employee, and must cover sick days and holidays.
Tips: Make sure you check references thoroughly. They’re just as important as background checks. Contracts or clearly stated job roles are also highly encouraged. Be sure to check out the NYS Domestic Labor Bill of Rights.
Nanny Shares: One creative way parents can shave down the cost of having a nanny is joining a nanny share, where two or more families get together to hire a nanny and share childcare. The amount of time can vary and accommodate any work schedule. Nanny shares work out really well if parents live close to each other, have children of a similar age and desire the same sort of person to care for their children.
Pluses: Lower childcare costs and a built-in playmate for your little one.
Minuses: You may have to purchase a double stroller. Also, it’s necessary to be in synch with your other family -- if they want to take a music class, you’ll need to take it too.
Tips: Spend time with your share family. Also, it’s worth exploring a contract so both families agree on details, and including an escape clause should one party decide to go another direction.
Au Pairs: Assuming you have an extra room at your place, an au pair is a great option. Hiring an au pair has a higher upfront cost but a much lower weekly and, ultimately, hourly cost. Parents benefit from having on-site childcare as well as an extra set of hands to help out around the house or run errands. The child can also benefit from a second language.
Pluses: On-hand childcare when you need it and cultural exchange.
Minuses: Stays last only one year. Also, sometimes dynamics between couples can change after a baby and adding another person to your household can change them even more.
Tips: Use a reputable agency, and make sure you’re clear on the all the details of the contract.
Babysitting Co-op: Another option for parents with flexible or freelance schedules, or parents who plan to stay at home with their child, is to set up a babysitting co-op. This tends to work best with 15 or more families who share their availability. Each family banks points based on the number of hours they watch another child and can use those points when they need them.
Pluses: Free childcare when you need it.
Minuses: It requires lots of organization and someone to manage the co-op.
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