Should We Hire a Nanny?

We are at a crossroads with our childcare. We have started looking for a nanny, and we are in the process of interviewing someone to take care of our children. Growing up, I never had a nanny, but I have visions of some British-speaking woman coming to our house. Something out of Mary Poppins, the likes of that woman on the show Supernanny, or worse Fran Drescher. We have three children – the oldest is five, the middle is almost two years old, and the youngest just turned eight months. All currently go to the same daycare facility just up the road from my wife’s place of business. Unlike other locations we looked at, it’s convenient for my wife to drop them off and pick them up.


Sending your kids to daycare is a very costly endeavor. For the three children it costs us over $20k annually. My wife’s flexible dependent care helps ease the pain, but it’s only $5k maximum annually.

I will say the daycare is a great environment for our children, and it’s great they are socializing with other kids their age. We notice our neighbor’s child, who was watched by nannies, acts less mature. Without question our children have benefited from going to daycare.

So while we really like the daycare and the people that take care of our children, it’s been a really stressful experience for us. The issues we’ve had are:

  1. All three children are very often sick. In fact, it’s almost a weekly occurrence. The youngest got so sick in December that we had to hospitalize him for bronchitis.
  2. When they are sick, I often have to watch them. This takes time out of my workday.
  3. From this and other issues related to daycare (snow days, vacation days, etc.), it’s been very hard to schedule my work life around their schedule. It seems like they are on vacation more than they are at daycare.
  4. My wife often has meetings early in the morning and late in the evening. I often have to drop and/or pick them up from daycare. This can suck at least an hour from my work routine.
  5. The dropping off and picking them up for my wife can be a major chore. Dropping off two children, and picking up three, to put it nicely, is a complex task.
  6. It’s been very hard to find someone to babysit our children. This is for either times when they’ve been sick or we’ve had an evening engagement. Don’t ask me when was the last time we went out for a romantic dinner. Our relatives have helped somewhat, but it’s not been easy.

The aspect of hiring a nanny that makes me unhappy the most is the cost. A nanny is expected to be at least $5k more than what we are currently paying for daycare. My wife recently got a raise that should cover the additional costs. Though I really wanted to use the money for additional savings for the children’s education and other investments. I promised myself we shouldn’t experience lifestyle creep, but it seems like we have no other viable alternative. From my end it makes me nervous, with the economy still being somewhat unstable.

It will help free up my time to be more productive with my businesses, so I hope I can earn more income to make up the difference in cost. The other aspect that somewhat concerns me is bring a stranger into the household. If we do bring a nanny in, we do want them to feel comfortable with us and our children. I do understand, like managing your money, no one cares more about your children than you do. So as you can see, I’m somewhat hesitant about hiring a nanny.

Readers: What would you do? Do you think hiring a nanny will really be more beneficial to us than daycare?

Comments

  1. JT McGee says:

    I was surprised to not see any comments, but now that I consider it…I know why: you’ve got a tough decision here.

    If the nanny displaces future college savings, I say no-go. They/you will both want that money in the future, and investments like that are life-changing/family tree-changing investments.

  2. Evan says:

    There is no harm in trying it out – if you find no added positives then fire the nanny. If you incur that extra expense and your income DOESN’T go up then you have to reevaluate the expense in terms of just ease.

    Just my quick thought.

  3. NANNY X says:

    Dear investor parents

    do yourselves a favor and step away from the calculator then go online and buy any book written by Stanley I Greenspan MD. I recommend The Four-Thirds Solution.

    I know it may mean spending an extra $20 or so but it’ll be worth while. You’ll soon discover lots of very interesting data on how a 1:1 carer is more beneficial and cost effective in the long term for children (good quality childcare v college fees) as opposed to early entrance daycare.

    It’s taken you how many chronic infections to wake up to the germ fest that is even the highest daycare facility? And maturity in children that is not age appropriate simply means your children have been trained to be more independent because it makes them easier to manage.

    Children are immature – they are childish complex bundles of development. That’s the point of childhood.

    Your children deserve decent childcare if both parents work full-time. It’s your job to weigh up a Nanny’s wages against College fees but err on the side of early child care, there is no price tag for a happy childhood or its life long legacy of happiness.

    Nanny X

  4. Darwin's Money says:

    This is 5 grand. It’s inconsequential. You’ve got two working parents. Think about all the things you don’t have to do now. You don’t have to drive the kids to daycare, put up with constant oddball illnesses, the nanny can/should even do some routine housework, saving you guys some time (at least some dishes, minor clutter/cleanup after kids, etc). We don’t have a nanny, my wife stays home. But if we had the means and the need and we could find a reliable one we trust, I’d consider it if it were solely a financial consideration like it sounds here.

  5. LifeAndMyFinances says:

    I would go with the nanny for your situation. My wife and I don’t have kids yet, but I am hoping that we’ll be able to have one of us stay home with the kids! I guess I’m old fashioned, but I don’t want a stranger raising my children. It’ll be hard enough for my wife and I to get on the same page with discipline, let alone a 3rd party.

  6. dan says:

    Under the circumstances, my 2cents, I would go with the nanny. With the economy being what it is, you should have a large pool of decent prospects to pick from. Screen, screen, screen and do some more screening of the short list! Considering how important this is, even after you feel you have picked out the right candidate, I would trust and verify. Leave a voice recorder in the house, from time to time, and see how she talks to your kids when you’re not around. Full day of cell phone conversations with others, being short and sarcastic to your children, and doing the least bit necessary…would all be causes to remove her from the new job. I am uneasy with spying, as it is a bit creepy, but considering how important our kids are..I would want to know for sure.

    Assuming you find the right person, I believe it would be money well spent if your kids are in a stable, caring, and more attentive environment. Also, the time you save and the peace of mind you’ll have, will allow you to devote more time physically and mentally to your work. Having more grace at work pays dividends.

    As for the money for college, if your saving consistently in a 529 plans, even if you have to trim it back a little during this period of your lives, the trade off is worth it, to me. Step it back up once they’re off to kinderg. and above.

    Good luck. We only have two kids and my wife stayed home for a couple of years. If I had three kids and my wife was working.. no brainer.

    Dan W

  7. Jenna says:

    You should try an au pair. An au pair is a student between the ages of 18 and 26 who come to the US to live with an American family and help take care of the children. It is usually more affordable than the nanny or day care option. Its great to have someone built in in case the kids get sick or the schools close for snow. Its also a great was to have your hildren experience other languages and cultures. I work with an au pair program and can talk toyou about the program and help you find the perfect au pair. If you e-mail me at jenna.haxton@lcc.culturalcare.com we can set up a time to talk.

  8. Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog says:

    I think there would be no harm in giving it a whirl. If your kids don’t get sick as often, then you’re probably better off. I never had a nanny either (and dont even have kids) but Ive never viewed it as a need, although it sure sounds like you and your wife could make great use of it. Good luck with your search.

  9. Craig says:

    Wow, that really sounds like a tough decision. With daycare you have more people there so in theory you should have more accountability. But at the same time, there are other children there as well so the caregivers won’t be spending all of their time with your kids. (And I’ve heard interesting stories from a daycare we thought was pretty good that scare us now).

    Bringing a virtual stranger into the house to raise your kids is a hard decision.

    Time-wise, the nanny sounds like a great choice and freeing up the running around could end up making up for the added expense.

    Is there any way you can help keep the nanny accountable such as cameras in the house?

    I also now what the perpetual sickness is like. When my son was in daycare he had a cold-like virus the entire Winter. The kids pick up everything and they are kind enough to share all diseases with you.

    • Investor Junkie says:

      I work from home a lot, so while cameras are an option, it’s unnecessary at this point.

      • Craig says:

        Ahh, I didn’t get that from the article. If you’re going to be home then that changes a lot. You still have to be able to trust the nanny when you are out but at least she will be close by most times.

  10. Andrew Hallam says:

    If you can afford hiring a nanny, you may find that the benefits outweigh the initial concerns. You and your wife can have time for the two of you. If having a nanny can alleviate or lessen stress, everyone will be happier. But finding the ‘right’ nanny is essential. Good luck!

  11. Scorpi says:

    Just wanted to say I’m a stay at home mom to two little ones. We hired a nanny to help my load. It has been a bad experience for us. Very hard to find a good one. Very hard to have a stranger come into your home. Some of these nannies think they know better than the parents and don’t respect the parents. We are now putting my two yr old in early preschool. Also the cost really does add up over time. We have the money but felt the pinch over time. We did not have leftover money for home repairs and other important needs. Just our experience but good luck yo you whatever works out for you.

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