Choosing Nanny Care: Is A Nanny The Right Choice For Me?

When deciding if hiring a nanny is the right choice for your family, consider these four key questions.

Is it the environment I want for my child?
For most parents, the answer is yes. They recognize the value of one-to-one care and they love the flexibility and extra help a nanny brings to the job. Not sure? Check out this post for a detailed look at all the pros and cons.

Can I afford it?
In some large metropolitan areas if you have two or more children, nanny care costs the same or less than a quality daycare. But in most cases, nanny care is the most expensive childcare choice. Sometimes by quite a bit. So while most parents want a nanny, the reality is not every family can afford one. (Check out the article What Does a Nanny Cost?  to get a detailed idea of the the total cost of hiring a nanny.)
A word of caution here: if you can’t afford it, don’t try to squeeze a nanny into your budget by hiring an unqualified caregiver at a cheap rate. (And there are a whole lot of them out there looking for a job.) You don’t have to pay top dollar to get great care but if you pay too far below the local market value, you’re likely to end up with inferior care. It’s a much better choice to find a quality center that you can afford. For a more in-depth look at the question “Do you get what you pay for when hiring a nanny?” check out this post.

Do I think it’s worth it?
You may be able to afford a nanny but to make it work, you also have to believe she’s worth it. One of the quickest ways to create a negative environment for you and your nanny (not to mention your kids!) is to begrudge your nanny the wages you pay her, the benefits you offer her or the give and take that’s essential to a successful employment relationship.
So if you…

• find yourself cringing at the idea of writing her a check for X dollars each week,

• get annoyed just imagining her checking her email during naptime because…well, that’s not what you’re paying her for,

• think for what she earns, she should be willing to do a lot more than childcare,

it’s a good bet nanny care isn’t the right choice for you. Or that you need to get clear about what value it brings to your child and to your family.
Employers who feel nannies are overpaid in general or who feel they’re not getting their money’s worth from their nanny in particular have tense working relationships, unhappy caregivers and high turnover.

Am I willing to take on the responsibilities of an employer?
In every other type of childcare setting, the provider or center decides on the rules and takes on the responsibilities of running the business. With nanny care, the bucks stops with you.

The upside is you don’t have to live by the rules of your family care provider or daycare center. You decide on the schedule, the type of activities your kids are involved in, the environment, etc. But that also means it’s up to you to take care of all the employer stuff like setting expectations and boundaries, talking to your nanny about performance issues and dealing with payroll, taxes, insurance and record keeping. (Although you can hire a nanny tax service to do that last part for you.) For some parents, this isn’t a problem. For others, it’s not a role they want to take on.