The time has come for you to return to work. You’ve narrowed down the options and are now faced with the dilemma of deciding between sending your child(ren) to a nursery or hiring a private nanny.
In this guide, we objectively discuss the pros and cons of nannies and nurseries so that you can weigh up the options and make a well-informed decision that will provide the best level of childcare for you and your family.
The benefits of hiring a private nanny
One-to-one care, consistency and flexibility
Families who hire a private nanny love the fact that their child(ren) have one-to-one care in their familiar home surroundings. A nanny will be 100% focused on attending to the needs of your child(ren) and will stick to your preferred daily schedule when it comes to meal times, nap times, play time, educational activities, and more.
A nanny is a consistent familiar face who will quickly come to feel like part of the family. In nurseries, the turnover of staff can be high which means your child(ren) may need to adapt to new faces on a regular basis.
There are also logistical and scheduling benefits associated with hiring a nanny. You won’t have to juggle drop off and pick up with your daily routine and commute. It will also give you more flexibility, if for example you are running late due to a meeting or public transport lets you down. And if you are running late for some reason, you can be confident your child(ren)’s normal routine will continue without being interrupted. What’s more, you won’t need to take time off work for your child(ren)’s routine dental and doctor visits, or if they are sick.
Because a nanny will perform child-related duties such as light housework, laundry and cooking (or more general household duties in the case of a nanny-housekeeper, you will be freed up to spend more quality time with your child(ren) during the evenings and the weekend.
The benefits of nurseries
Constant simulation, social interaction and regulation
One of the main reasons parents opt for a nursery is because the interaction with other children of their own age can help them develop and improve their social skills. There will also be plenty going on to provide the constant mental stimulation they need, especially when they are toddlers. It can also help prepare them for starting full-time education as they will be used to being in a “classroom” environment with children their own age.
They are also not limited to the educational resources, toys and fun activities you might have at your disposal in the home or your local amenities. That said, there are plenty of groups, activities, etc that nannies can attend with children in their care that will enable them to broaden their horizons from an early age and play-dates with children of a similar age can also provide that additional stimulation and help with development of social skills.
Nurseries are Ofsted regulated and are by law required to meet certain safety, staffing and facility standards. All staff working in a nursery are required to be Ofsted certified and have gone through training to work in a nursery. They will also be DBS checked and have a paediatric first aid.
If you are hiring a nanny, they should be DBS checked and have a paediatric first aid as a minimum. Nannies are not Ofsted regulated but there are some out there who are Ofsted certified. From our experience, most nannies will generally be open to going through Ofsted certification if a family asks them to.
Another reason why parents opt for nurseries is that they’ve still got your childcare covered if one of the nursery nurseries if off sick. That said, some agencies like myTamarin will provide a replacement nanny if your nanny is off sick.
When faced with deciding between a nanny or nursery, you need to look at both options in the context of you and your child’s needs and personality traits. For example, some children will thrive within a nursery setting, while others can feel overwhelmed by being placed in what can be a hectic environment with a lot of other children.
Just because one approach worked well for one of your children, it doesn’t mean it will be the same for your other children. As one of the parents we spoke to recently said: “My son never really thrived in nursery like his older sister did. During these weeks of lockdown we’ve realised that he responds much better to individual care and attention”.
Cost is understandably a consideration for many. A nursery may initially feel like the most cost-effective option but when you break it down and build in early drop-off or late pick-up fees, temporary cover when your child is sick, holiday cover, etc, it may not be as black and white as you think, especially if you have more than one child.
Whichever route you go down, make sure you take the time to do thorough checks on the nurseries in your area, or the nanny agency you decide to work with as some will take nanny recruitment, background checking, reference checking and matching much more seriously than others.
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