more than one way to raise a child

Debate: Nanny, Nursery or Childminder?

Debate: Nanny, Nursery or Childminder?

Here in Chiswick (aka yummy mummy land), nanny or nursery is a hot topic of conversation. It is an emotionally-charged, purse-draining minefield decision.

When we started googling ‘best childcare options for babies’ we were flooded with information.

When we discussed the options together, it was really hard not to be swayed by the others point of view – there are so many cons and benefits for each option. Both of us spent HOURS researching the different options, visiting nurseries, interviewing nanny’s and crunching the numbers before coming to a decision.

Ultimately, we made two different decisions.

Kate chose nursery. Why?

In a nutshell, we chose nursery because it’s the option we feel is most beneficial for The Girl and that we are most comfortable with.

Surprising, it took us a long time to get to this decision. Pre-baby, my husband and I thought nursery. When she arrived, we agreed a nanny share was best. Now that’s she’s older, we settled back on nursery. And I’m so glad we did – The Girl loves nursery.

We think it’s the most beneficial option for The Girl because it provides her a safe, clean room filled with more toys than she’ll ever own, surrounded by a team of trained staff and a variety of children. The Girl is incredibly independent — we didn’t feel a nanny would provide the opportunities that a nursery could to learn whilst playing and get used to lots of different kids and adults.

The biggest thing for us was security — my husband and I couldn’t wrap our heads around the fact that with a nanny, our child would be out and about, exposed to the world without us being there. When she’s a bit older, we’d feel less paranoid about this, but whilst she’s young the comfort of knowing where your child is at all time was a big tipping point for us.

It is also much easier to drop and go at nursery, checking in with the Nursery camera’s every now and again, whereas with a nanny the constant stream of whatsapp messages and planning the days activities would have made it hard for me to be fully present at work.

To be totally honest we didn’t look into childminder, but I wouldn’t be opposed to in the future.

The only downside to nursery that I’m aware of but haven’t experienced yet is that The Girl might pick up more bugs and that we don’t know the staff personally.

I do go back and forth in my head sometimes as to if we made the right decision to not have a nanny — this seems to be the most popular choice for my local friends. But there comes a point where I have to stick by the decision I made and not look back. We are all trying to do our best for our kids, right?

Em chose to have a nanny. Why?

Before The Boy was born we had just assumed that he would go to nursery – in fact we looked round a number of different nurseries to get him “on the list” while I was six months pregnant. However, once he was here I began to doubt whether nursery was the right thing for us and we started to look into other options. We were really surprised to find that childminders were prohibitively expensive (around £10 / hour) and that if we were not happy with nursery, our best option was a nanny.

Since September 2017 we have had our wonderful nanny, both as a live in nanny and as a nanny share, and we wouldn’t change it for the world. There are so many reasons why it is a fantastic option if you can make the money work.

Firstly, and most importantly, I honestly believe it is the best care possible for The Boy. Our nanny is a total professional – she has all of the qualifications including a degree, first aid etc, but more than that she is loving and fun and concentrates her working hours 100% on the children she is looking after. There is no pressure to follow anything other than the routine and activities we plan out together and I 100% trust that she will always make decisions in The Boy’s best interest.

One thing people worry about with a nanny is the lack of socialisation. Articles such as this one love to proclaim that “Nursery is better”. But if you read into the detail it is comparing care for older children and, more importantly, takes about the benefit of “group settings” – not just nursery. I don’t see the two as mutually exclusive. The Boy loves to attend playgroups and classes so I believe he gets these benefits as well as all of those of having his own individual care.

Another huge benefit is that with a nanny we have care even when The Boy is ill. With nurseries implementing a 48 hour rule, I worked out that we would have been without childcare for at least 13 days since September. The nanny was able to help even when The Boy was in hospital for a few nights – a godsend when I was exhausted and overly emotional from staying with him.  A GP once told me you should expect 10 incidents of illness on average for year for a child under 2 in childcare – that is around 20 days where you have to scramble if you choose nursery.

I am lucky enough to often work from home so having a nanny in my home means I can see The Boy more too. We often each lunch together (work permitting) and I have more flexibility to spend time with him than I would if he was at nursery. We also benefit from having the nanny in our home because she does some light chores including laundry and tidying up after The Boy.

Of course there is always a flipside and I appreciate that a nanny is a huge cost for any family. We cut the costs by having a live in nanny to start with and by having a nanny share. Comparing the costs of what we pay versus nursery it ends up being around £200 more per month – not a huge cost within the grand scheme of things. We also have to manage things like nanny PAYE and pensions which is complicated.

More difficult for us has been managing the emotional journey of having a nanny. I’m sure many people worry that their baby will love the nanny more but as a professional this is something your nanny should be able to help with. It’s also tough making difficult decisions around finances when you have an emotional attachment and relationship with your nanny.

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