The rivalry between working and stay-at-home mothers is hardly a secret. However, a less-apparent division also lurks within the working mother ranks: Daycare Moms versus Nanny Moms.
I started out on the nanny side. My husband and I hired a fantastic caregiver who had raised four sons. She exuded both wisdom and calm.
But before our daughter hit her first birthday, the nanny decided to relocate. At the same time, after many months of languishing on the waiting list, we were accepted to our favorite day care. It seemed like fate. I’ve been a Daycare Mom for more than a year.
Some parents from our day care have formed a supper club, and during one Saturday night meal, the topic turned to Daycare versus Nanny. The mother to my left, an attorney, said that it bugs her how people assume that she can’t afford a nanny because she uses daycare. “They don’t understand it is a choice,” she said.
Another mother-attorney, at the end of the table, chimed in. “I think nannies are easier for the parents but daycare is better for the children.”
I thought of another conversation, over another meal, back when I was a Nanny Mom. I was eating lunch with an old friend. Both of us had recently returned to work after having our first children.
“I just can’t imagine putting my child in daycare,” my friend said conspiratorially over her Cobb salad. “It’s like prison.”
So what is the right answer, daycare or nanny? I certainly can’t tell you that, though, trust me, just about everyone else will have an opinion! The important thing, according to experts, is to do your research, find quality caregivers (whether at home or in a daycare setting) and do what you think is best for you and your child.
Finding childcare can be an anxiety-inducing experience, for sure. There are the recent news reports about a Kiddie Kollege in New Jersey that shut down because children were exposed to mercury. And there are equally horrific stories about nannies who neglect or abuse their charges.
For advice on scoping out good child care, I turned to a couple of experts. First, on the nanny side, I called Bob King, an employment attorney and founder of Legally Nanny, a service that helps employers navigate the tricky tax issues that come with paying a nanny legally.
To find a nanny, he encourages people to use a service. Most only charge a fee to parents who end up hiring through the service—so sign up with two or three services in your area. Services typically do criminal background checks and research candidates’ driving records.
“In theory, you could do all that, but that is a lot of hassle and you don’t know what you don’t know,” Bob says.