If there’s one thing we all know about the cost of living; it’s high. Eye-wateringly, pant-wettingly high. Higher, in fact, these days, than a giraffe on a step-ladder at the top of Mount Everest. Inevitably that means both you and your partner will have to go out to work, at least some of the week, just to keep it all going.
As a consequence, parents with pre-school kids need somebody to look after them on work days – more often than not a daycare or a nanny. But before you pack them off to the nearest, dearest centre, it’s best to get clued up on the different childcare options. Here’s a quick snapshot of the pros and cons of each.
Childcare Options For Kids
Typically larger centres that take pre-school children from just a few months old, long daycares – or early-learning centres – tend to offer safety and security due to higher staffing numbers, excellent facilities for a range of ages, and a more structured form of learning.
PROS: Ideal for encouraging sociability in your child; many offer long hours of care, making them perfect for busy parents; facilities are often well suited for different age groups.
CONS: Can be expensive; often inflexible around holidays and periods of sickness; due to large intakes, can also be a hotbed of germs.
Often carrying groups of only four or eight children at a maximum, family daycares can be a Godsend if you’re searching for a more intimate environment for your kids. Each state has different regulations on family daycares, though providers should be qualified early-learning carers.
PROS: Ideal for kids wary of big groups or large spaces; offers children a social, supportive and safe environment on a smaller scale; often cheaper than other daycare options.
CONS: Facilities may not compete with those of a larger centre; can seem more casual than more formalised day care centres; not all family daycares provide food and nappies.
A great option if you feel your kid will benefit more from one-to-one interaction, nannies will often come to your house to care for your kids, therefore also allowing your child a feeling of safety in a well-known, comfortable environment.
PROS: A great level of care from one-to-one interaction; in-house care can be super convenient for busy parents; some nannies will take groups of two or three children, giving you the option to organise this with friends’ kids.
CONS: Primarily, the cost – understandably, nannies will often charge higher fees than a daycare; children won’t get the same social interaction.
Like a nanny, an au pair will offer your child one-on-one care. The majority of au pairs are 18-30 and taking part in a cultural exchange, taking full-time care of your children in exchange for a place to live, meals and pocket money. Expect to pay roughly $350 a week.
PROS: As with a nanny, one-to-one attention can be invaluable for a child’s learning; kids will also benefit from the cultural exchange of interacting with a foreign carer. If you have multiple children and space to house them, an Au Pair is a dependable, cost-effective option.
CONS: Having another person living in your household can throw up difficulties.