With our first child, we agonized over most decisions, but deciding what to do about child care was the hardest. It gave me constant anxiety and frequently kept me up at night. It was one of those BIG scary decisions we procrastinated making.
My husband and I grew up with stay-at-home moms, and while I knew I would go back to work, it took me a while to realize what that meant. Would we still be raising our daughter if she spent more wakeful hours in child care than with us? What type of child care would be best for her and our lifestyle? Would we feel more “in control” of our daughter’s schedule if we went with a nanny or would socializing her early be best for her development? Many questions ran through our minds.
Because of my slow emergence from the hazy, sleepless bliss of maternity leave, selecting a nanny became more realistic than getting into a respected daycare center. Our demanding jobs, our travel schedules, my volunteer commitments and my husband’s grad school program also factored heavily into this decision. We were strapped for quality family time and wanted to preserve as much of it as we could. With a nanny, we hoped we would be able to keep our daughter in her own environment, maintain her routine, have help with laundry and cleaning around the house and, most of all, find someone who would care for her with almost as much love as we would.
The process of finding a nanny can be daunting. I looked at the NPN forums and on Care.com and researched agencies. Because I grew up in a smaller town where everyone knows everyone, one of my major issues with the process was the desire to find someone connected to someone we knew. A background check is helpful (and a good idea) but a referral gave us peace of mind. Luckily, due to timing, we found a nanny through a referral with a long list of glowing recommendations, which made the transition easier.
The additional help at home and schedule flexibility meant we were able to be “present” during our daughter’s wakeful hours. However, this also meant that we could be more “present” at work. The daily photos from our nanny helped me to know our daughter was enjoying her day just as much as they helped me to relax and focus on work.
Our decision worked best for our family, but not every family has the same needs. The one important lesson I’ve learned is that your child care needs will change as your child grows or siblings come along. The only constant thing in life is change, and child care is no exception, so don’t beat yourself up if your initial nanny isn’t a good fit or if you decide to go the daycare route after having a nanny for your infant. The only person who knows what works best for your family is you.
Trying to find a nanny? Check out NPN's Childcare Classifieds for parent-recommended caregivers.