Childcare Options For The Modern Family: Day Care Centers and Nannies


Finding someone to look after your children while you are at home or away can be one of the most daunting and overwhelming tasks a parent can face. Increasingly, studies are showing that there is a direct link between high quality child-care and a child’s emotional, cognitive and physical health. Good caregivers can do everything from help grow portions of a child’s brain to help them socialize and form bonds to other people.

Sadly, poor caregivers can be a detriment by not fostering brain growth and causing children to feel nervous and anxious. After taking time to figure out the days, hours and cost of childcare then parents need to understand the different types available to them and which option would be the best match for them and their children. 

Daycare Centers (out of home)

If parents are choosing a daycare center, they usually break down into two categories: residential day care or commercial daycare. Residential day care is usually hosted in a person’s home where they, and perhaps another individual, care for the children during the day. Residential day care is for parents looking for a small, more intimate environment with more of a “home like” feel. Residential care may provide a lower childcare to caregiver ratio and an easier transition for children who are nervous with bigger groups. On the flip side however, residential day care programs may lack the toys, books, games and resources that the commercial centers may have.

They also may not have the educational programs and preschool-like structure. Commercial day care centers usually are bigger structures with rooms grouped by age. Hopefully they are clean and full of age appropriate games and toys. More and more of these centers have cameras where the parents can check in and see how things are going.

The positives are the socialization and amounts of stimulation provided to the children. The negatives could be the larger staff to child ratio. 

When choosing a residential or commercial day care, parents need to:

Check the center’s state requirements, make sure all of their papers and documents are up to date and there are no issues from the state, check references on the staff members, speak to current and former parents who attended, and drop in for several trials with your child to see if you and he or she feels comfortable.  

Nannies (in home)

Within the nanny world, I have found there seems to be three responsibility types that I termed:

1. Parental Unit Nanny: a nanny who can function like a parent. Someone autonomous, proactive and someone able to run the house while mom is out. 

2. Partner Nanny: this is a nanny who splits the house with the mom equally. She will be “in charge” when mom is out and then “assist” when mom is home.

3. Executor Nanny: these are best for moms who want total control over the home.

These nannies are reactive and follow the daily assigned tasks.

In addition to thinking about what level and type of responsibility they would like, at-home parents also need to consider other factors of working with a nanny such as: “will they live in or live out?” “will I need them to drive or have special requirements such as swimming” or “does this person have the professional experiences to be equipped to handle my children?” The benefits of having a nanny are the ability to have one single person look after your child in their home and attend to their changing needs. The negatives are the higher cost of care and less socialization then available to daycare.

When choosing a nanny parents need to:

Make sure they have previously worked with children who are the same ages as yours, check the nanny’s past references, background check the person’s identity and paperwork, spend time doing several in-home trials, not just one interview, with the nanny candidate so that you can observe her and see if she is a match as a caregiver and employee. 

Tammy Gold is a licensed therapist, certified parent coach as well as a national parenting expert who regularly appears on outlets such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, Fox and CBS News. She also writes for items such as the Huffington Post and The Tammy has been working with parents for over a decade and her book Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer is the first time a therapist merges aspects of psychology into finding and achieving high level childcare.

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