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December 26th, 2012

A dilemma that most working parents face is whether to enrol their child in a nursery or employ a nanny to take care of them at home. There are many factors that will influence your decision about which option works best for you, and two of the most important are what your child will be doing during the day, and what the costs of either option would be.

Your Child’s Daily Routine   Regarding your child’s daily routine, there are advantages and disadvantages to both nurseries and nannies. At nursery your child will have a fixed daily routine which will include free play times, activity times, meal times, and nap times, which will give them a sense of security. At nursery your child will have access to a wide range of stimulating toys and activities and will mix with a large number of children of a similar age which should have social benefits. The downsides of nurseries may be that children are continually in the same location, often just one room plus an outdoor area, and that they will receive little one-to-one attention. If you employ a nanny your child’s daily routine can be as fixed or as varied as you want it to be. The start of the day is usually less hectic as you don’t have to dress and feed your child to drop them off before work, and they can stay in their own environment for much of the day, for example sleeping in their own bed at nap time. Your child may not mix with as many children, or become as involved in as many activities as they would at nursery, but your nanny should be able to take them to playgroups or classes, and to arrange play dates in a variety of stimulating locations. They will benefit from the one-to-one care and attention, as well as education that a good nanny can provide.

Cost of Nurseries and Nannies We’d like to think that cost isn’t the driving factor when deciding on the best childcare option for our children, but affordability is always going to be an issue, especially in London where childcare costs are especially high. Many people think that the cost of hiring a nanny would be prohibitive, but that depends largely on the number of hours you work. Let’s compare the cost of a nursery place in London with the cost of a live out nanny: The 2012 London Childcare Report by the Daycare Trust states that in London the average weekly cost of a 25 hour part-time nursery place for a child under two is £126.80, although they did find nurseries charging up to £247.50. A part-time live-out nanny charging £10 per hour would cost £250 per week for the same number of hours. Many working parents are looking for 50 hours childcare per week, 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and in this case the average weekly cost for a nursery would be £253.60, rising to £495.00 for the most expensive nursery. A full time live-out nanny for the same hours would cost £500.00 per week. Although a nursery is usually cheaper overall for one child, the costs start to even out as soon as you have two children needing childcare, even with nursery discounts for siblings. Nurseries also tend to charge additional fees such as a holding deposit and a month’s fees upfront when your child first starts, and late fees of at least £5 per five minutes if you are late picking up your child. There are advantages and disadvantages to both nurseries and nannies, and ultimately the choice depends on what is right for your child. Some children thrive in the hustle and bustle of a nursery, while others flourish with the one-to-one attention and familiar surroundings of staying home with a nanny. As long as you find a good nursery or nanny, where your child will be nurtured, stimulated, and well cared for, you can be happy with whichever choice you make.

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