If you will be heading back to work once your little one is six weeks old, you will need to think early about who will care for him or her once you’re not available during the day. The most common options are daycare, in-home care, or relative care. Each has pros and cons, and it is up to you to decide which option is best for your family.
Daycare is a group setting in which you will take your child to a residence or business daycare with other children. The benefit of daycare is that it is more cost effective than in-home care. The people who work in daycares should be licensed childcare professionals and will be able to provide a safe environment. Your child will have more children with whom to interact because of the larger number of children in daycare.
The downside to sending your child to daycare is that he or she will not have as much freedom as in other options. Because of the larger number of children, your little one will have to exist within a set of rules prescribing behavior, bathroom breaks, and eating schedule. There is not as much freedom as with other childcare options. You also will have less flexibility. Most daycares have a drop off and pick up time, and you will have to adhere to these times. You won’t be able to work late or run an errand before work because you will have to set your schedule to the daycare’s hours.
In-home care, or a nanny, is an option for some families. The benefit of that arrangement is that you will have someone who will place his or her sole attention on your children. You will have a person who will be responsible only to you. The nanny’s schedule will fit yours, and your child can get individual attention. You can opt for a live-in arrangement, whereby the nanny is “on call” 24 hours a day, or you can hire someone who comes in and out with your work schedule.
Nannies have their disadvantages, too. Some parents worry that a single caregiver will create an important bond with your child, and that bond could overcome the parents’ bond because of the amount of time nannies spend with their charges. This bond can be healthy for your child, but it can also pose problems if a nanny leaves after a year or two of care. Young children could have a difficult time with this adjustment. You also must give a nanny more control over your child than other childcare providers will have, and you will have to be comfortable with that decision. Finally, nannies are more expensive than the other two options because you are paying for someone’s full-time attention. If you go through legal channels with your nanny, you will be responsible for paying taxes, social security, and other costs as well.
A third childcare option that you have is to have a relative care for your child. Your relative can be a wonderful option if you have eccentric beliefs. If you are vegan, for example, or have strict religious observances, a relative may be a better person to respect these wishes. A relative also poses less risk for harming your child in the course of care because relatives love your children. They are not a job; they are family. Relatives also tend to charge little – if at all – to keep your children, and that savings could be substantial. Relatives also will be able to keep your children whenever you need it.
Relatives, though, can pose problems as well. While you may share many basic beliefs, there could be some differences. For example, you may believe that making children eat their veggies isn’t always necessary, but your Mom may not agree. She may require little Bobby to eat his green beans or sit at the table all afternoon. Bridging these gaps will be more difficult if it’s your mom you’re dealing with as opposed to a nanny you screened and hired. You also may find that your child gets confused with two people taking care of her who will also be at family gatherings and other events. You will have to be sure that your child understands that you are the parent and that you make the rules for your child.
These options are all very important, but you must consider all of them. One option may not always be the best one for your family as times and circumstances change. Still, they are all worth your consideration. This decision is one of the most important you will make in the early years of your child’s life.