Pros & Cons of Nannies vs. Daycare for Chicago Parents
Obtaining childcare is the single most important decision any new parent in Chicago has to make before their child reaches school-going age. One surprise most Chicago families may not be prepared for is just how many choices they have when it comes to childcare in the city.
Yes, you can have a trusted relative watch your child, or perhaps stay at home to care full-time for your little one. However, if you’ll be out working 9 to 5, your safest bet boils down to either hiring a nanny to take care of your child or, more commonly, enrolling your child in a traditional daycare.
Taking a closer look at the benefits and downsides of nannies vs. daycare can make it easy for you to choose the right childcare facility in Chicago. Let’s break down the pros and cons of both options.
Pros and Cons of Hiring a Nanny
Nannies’ biggest selling points are flexibility, one-on-one attention, and increased parental control. A reliable nanny around the house can also help you with household work. But hiring a nanny can be pricey, especially in a world-class city like Chicago.
Advantages of Using a Nanny in Chicago
1- One-on-One, Focused Attention
At this stage, your infant and toddler still need much love, care, and attention to promote healthy brain development. You can count on a good nanny to excel in this area. The babysitter or nanny will tailor care, activities, and learning moments to your child’s individual needs. After all, there’s no competition for your nanny’s attention, allowing them to focus exclusively on your tot’s wellbeing and development.
2- The Parent Has More Control
When you hire a nanny, he or she is basically your employee. You have control of everything that goes into the care of your child, be it the activities they indulge in, what they eat, where they go, what your child is exposed to, or even when they should sleep.
This makes it easy for you to dictate the kind of parenting style your nanny will adopt. In fact, most professional nannies in Chicago create a journal of what happens throughout the day, as well as provide the parent with visual proof (video, photos, etc.)
If you’re a strict parent (who isn’t right) who plans to micromanage every bit of the childcare, then hiring a nanny may be a great fit for you.
3- Consistency in Care
At most daycare centers, caregivers, teachers, and administrators come and go almost every year. With a full-time nanny, this is a thing of the past. They usually stay with your family from when your baby is a few weeks old until they start going to school or even beyond that, which can do wonders for your child’s social and emotional well-being.
4- A Nanny Can Be Quite Flexible
Flexibility is one positive attribute that comes with hiring a dedicated nanny. Whether you’re an early riser, work a normal 9-5, or your work veers into the evening, the nanny can work around your unique schedule. It’s easy for you to make last-minute plans, like a date, dinner with the clients, etc.
5- Help with Household Work
A nanny can be a lifesaver if you also need someone to do some household chores like receive deliveries, let in handymen, wash laundry, cook, and clean the house. It truly takes some pressure off of you as a working parent.
6- Convenience and Attachment
With the nanny at home, you don’t have to pack up or prepare for your child’s daycare. Besides, your nanny will become a primary attachment figure when you’re out hassling for the big bucks.
Disadvantages of a Nanny
1- Nannies Can Be Quite Expensive
Compared to using a daycare center, hiring a nanny can be a budget buster. In Chicago, the going rate for a nanny ranges from $12 to $20 or more depending on the services you need. Full-time nanny care can cost an eye-watering weekly bill of between $600 and $1,100.
2- Administrative Headaches
With daycare, all that you have to do is enroll and pay a daily or weekly fee. When you hire a nanny, on the other hand, you will need to file an IRS W-2 form for her and pay her Social Security taxes. Much paperwork and many administrative tasks are involved in being the sole employer of a nanny.
3- Oversight Problems
It’s true; most Chicago parents put up expensive nanny-cams. But when it’s just the nanny and your child (such as at the park or playground), anything goes and you’ll have no way of knowing it.
4- Clash in Parenting Styles
You can easily disagree with your nanny’s discipline, sleeping, feeding, and other parenting styles. This parenting style conflict can affect your child in many ways.
5- Lack of Regulation
Nannies are generally not required to obtain a license, get trained, or become accredited. Until you experience their services first-hand, hiring a nanny is mostly like throwing a dart in the dark.
What if your nanny calls in sick? Who will cover for them at the last minute? If your nanny also runs late or decides to arrive at work drunk, you might have to skip work yourself.
Pros and Cons of Daycare
Daycare centers have become the gold standard of childcare for decades now for good reason. They are wallet-friendly, predictable, and expose your child to multiple caregivers and other children, which can work wonders for their social, emotional, and cognitive development.
But they do come with a few setbacks, too.
Advantages of Daycare
1- Daycare’s Social Factor
Daycare centers are inarguably social havens where your little one can interact with several teachers, caregivers, administrators, parents, and their peers. They get to play, socialize, and interact in a meaningful, supervised, and healthy way that encourages learning and promotes social skills.
2- Well-Trained and Educated Staff
Unlike nannies who have no educational requirements, most daycares boast well-trained, educated, and experienced caregivers and teachers who have been working with children for years, if not decades. It’s not uncommon for almost 75 percent of employees in the best Chicago daycare centers to have a four-year college degree in early childhood education.
That means your child will get the highest quality of care because these teachers instill their curiosity, creativity, and use of play periods or toys to facilitate learning and development. It’s no wonder one study found that younger children have elevated social, emotional, and cognitive development when their teachers have a 4-year degree.
3- Licensed, Regulated, and Vetted Caregivers
All state-licensed daycare facilities in Chicago are required to meet strict federal and state licensing regulations and accreditation rules. Caregivers and teachers must undergo a thorough vetting process that includes background checks, so you can rest assured your child is in safe hands.
Be sure to check if your choice has been cited by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for violation of quality, safety, space, or sanitation issues. Don’t forget to ask if the facility has been accredited by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) or the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
4- Structured and Resourceful Care
Daycare facilities will provide structured working hours and dates to cater to working parents. They also provide a range of games, books, toys, play equipment, and other resources that boost learning and play. Daycare centers work hard to create and maintain environments conducive to creative play.
5- Provide Virtual Monitoring
Some state-of-the-art daycare centers let parents monitor their child’s care and check-in online during the day. Basically, you can visit your child remotely at least once during the day, providing extra peace of mind.
6- Lower Cost
The cost of daycare services tends to be more wallet-friendly than hiring a full-time nanny. However, the actual price will vary greatly depending on the type of daycare center, its location, and whether you need full-time or flexible care.
Disadvantages of Daycare
1- Incidents and Sick Policies
Daycare centers often have strict sick policies meant to help protect against outbreaks of illness. This means you will be left without childcare help if your child falls ill. Reports of falls, bites, and small incidences are common in these centers, as well.
2- Inflexible Operating Hours
A nanny can wait until you arrive, while a daycare center has fixed operating hours. This can be tricky and costly if you tend to run late when picking up your child.
3- Increased Chances of Illness
With children sharing space, toys, and other resources, it’s easy to spread germs and catch an illness. Finding a daycare with stricter sick policies and high standards of sanitation can make a big difference.
4- High Turnover Rates
Daycares often change caregivers and teachers, which can be emotionally draining.
The Bottom Line
In many aspects, enrolling your child in a daycare trumps hiring a nanny. Daycare centers are inexpensive, well-structured, offer ample social opportunities, and your child will receive care from multiple well-trained, educated, and experienced caregivers and teachers.
Are you looking for a trusted, state-of-the-art daycare in Chicago? Schedule a tour at any of our locations today. Serving the Edgewater, Irving Park, Lakeview, North Park, Lincoln Square, Edison Park, and West Loop communities since 2010.
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