Finding the right childcare can be difficult as every child – indeed every family – is different so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some children thrive in a nursery setting, but if you think your child would benefit from building a relationship with a single caregiver then your two main choices are to find a nanny or a childminder. The former will look after your child in your own home whilst you are out, whilst the latter will look after one or more children in their own home. This article looks in detail at the benefits and drawbacks of hiring a nanny as opposed to a childminder.
One of the main advantages of using a nanny is that they can offer your child one-to-one attention which can be ideal if they have special requirements or simply fare better in this kind of setting. They will usually have a professional childcare qualification and at least two years’ experience, although you will need to check this. Probably the best way to ensure that a nanny is properly qualified is to go through an agency rather than hiring them yourself. The agency will have already done all the work vetting them and ensuring they’re up to standard so they can vouch for their abilities. Agencies are easy to find simply be looking online: for example, if you live in London simply type something like London nanny agency into a search engine.
Using a nanny is extremely convenient if you have a very busy or irregular schedule. Because they come to your house (or something even live with you) you don’t have to worry about dropping your child off in the morning or getting them ready to leave the house: you can simply leave the house and go straight to work. They may also be able to step in for some babysitting at short notice if you have to work overnight or need to go out for some other reason. Also, bear in mind that many childminders will not look after your child when they are ill so you may need to take time off work: a nanny will not usually have such restrictions.
Hiring a nanny also gives you a certain amount of autonomy over how your child is looked after. Because they are in your own home, you can set the boundaries and rules in terms of what they are allowed to do, eat and so on. There is also the added advantage that many nannies will do some light housework and cooking as well, which helps to keep your home running smoothly whilst you are out at work. After all, when you work full-time and have children it can be very difficult to fit in all the housework as well, and hiring a cleaner on top of a nanny can get quite pricey. Also, bear in mind that a live-in nanny is less likely to up and leave at short notice because your home is their home.
On the downside, you may find that when it comes to cost live-out nannies are probably the most expensive form of childcare so it’s not something everyone can do. On the other hand, if you have a live-in nanny you have to factor in extra costs such as phone bills, heating and so on. However, if you have more than one child then the cost of a nanny can actually work out cheaper than a childminder because you don’t have to pay separate fees for each child.
Some people may find that they miss their privacy when they have an employee living in their house so this can take some getting used to as well. They will need their own bedroom and possibly bathroom as well so they can have their own downtime when you are at home and spending time with your kids. You will also have to do the tax and NIC paperwork if you are hiring somebody – not an issue if you are using a childminder.
All in all, a nanny has many considerable benefits to working parents looking to make their lives easier, but it’s not really an option for those with very limited finances. In that case, if you really do want more one-on-one care for your children, then a childminder would be your next best option.