When both parents make the choice to work full-time, the convenience and affordability of childcare needs to be factored in to the equation.
Maybe you’re lucky and have family that live close by, or can afford to have one parent stay at home, but that’s not the case for us. 3 weeks after our second son was born, we moved from Vancouver, to Calgary. An 11 hour drive from our nearest relatives.
There was going to be no built-in babysitter.
For the first 14 months, my wife stayed at home on maternity leave, and then she started looking for work, and a nnny.
Our friends called it a marriage saver. For us, living with a nanny has been awkward, convenient, and for our son, almost deadly.
There are pros to having a live-in nanny, to be sure. For a net of about $8/hr, we have a live-in caregiver for both our boys. It’s just her, and them. She picks them up from school, makes them lunch at home, gives them naps in their own beds, plays with them and their own toys.
Daycare centers in our area would be double that cost. There are people in our community who run daycare in their basements, but they are not always trustworthy, not properly trained in early childhood education, and very few bother to get licensed. So we chose a nanny and then our problems started.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t grow up with “servants” or “help.” I had to clean my room. I had to do the dishes. I preferred to do my own laundry when I was older. I pitched in around the house with a roster of weekly chores.
Suddenly having someone in my house wiping the counter or washing the dishes while I watch the news is nice, but it’s very very awkward. My wife and I have never been totally comfortable with the situation.
Our first nanny was not on the same page as us with the disciplining of our kids. She was soft, and our son would ignore her directions, and became belligerent.
Then there was the day he almost hung himself.
As the nanny sat on the couch, she watched our son climb on an art table, wrap a blind cord around his neck, declare he was a superhero and .. … jump.
The rope dug so deep into his neck, it blistered and burned. He looked like an extra from a CSI set of cadavers. We fired her that instant and spent the next 6 weeks looking, again, for a Nanny.
We found another one who has been great with our kids, but not so much with the house. Which is fine, and not fine. Our friends are getting a full house upkeep for their salary, and we’re getting babysitting. My wife and I still argue about cooking and cleaning, the house is not the immaculate shrine we imagined, and the laundry piles up.
Then there’s having someone living with you. Remember when you were in college and had roommates? It’s like that, except you’re married with kids. It’s hard to have intimate family moments because, well, someone else is there too. At first we insisted that the nanny have dinner with us; we didn’t want to treat her like a “servant,” but that had to stop. We just couldn’t be ourselves with a dinner guest every single night.
For us, a nanny has been very convenient, but not quite the marriage saver that our friends promised. Then again, they’re a little more tight on the leash with their Nanny.They have strict rules, she does all the cooking, and cleaning, and they treat her more like a ‘servant’ than we do.
What about you? What childcare choices have you made for your kids? How did they work out?
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Image Credit: Ed Yourdon