When we decided to try for our third child we did so with the complete knowledge that we could afford it. Since our oldest would be in Kindergarten all day, the increase for infant daycare costs would be pretty manageable. Good planning, we thought. Low and behold, we get a bonus child. While reeling at just the thought that I was now growing two humans, I immediately start panicking about paying for daycare. I had someone ‘joke’ to me that it might be cheaper to hire a Nanny than to pay for daycare. Yeah, right.
Another immediate worry of putting two infants in daycare was the constant illness being brought home. In the last year our older boys attended daycare, my husband and I took a combined 17 days off of work because of colds, fever, lice outbreaks, and daycare closures so they could clean their facility due to these illnesses. This was in addition to grandparents and friends coming to stay when we tapped out our sick days. I was terrified at the thought of how many days we’d have to take off for two more kids!
I always thought Nannies were for rich people. We live a comfortable life, but are by no means rolling in the dough. Until someone off-handedly mentioned Care.com to me I never thought it would be possible, but I’m so glad I looked into it. After many searches and interviews, we were able to find someone fresh out of college, who had spent summers being a full-time nanny. She fit within our budget, I didn’t have to get four kids out the door every morning, and I was even able to come home at lunch to nurse on occasion. This particular nanny only worked January-June. She was a great fit for our babies, but not so much for our then three year old.
We spent the summer looking for a better fit for the next school year and luckily we were able to find someone. This also gave us the freedom to choose the best fit preschool for our now four year old. He was able to go to a free half-day program because we already had someone at home for the other half of the day.
In paying the same weekly amount for two infants ($220 per child) in a center-based facility in our hometown of Kalamazoo, MI, we were able to pay our nanny over $1 an hour more than minimum wage and she also took care of our four year old (saving us an additional $185 per week). This allows us to have someone already at home when our oldest has a day or half day off school, or stays home sick. This also gives us so much more freedom in the summer when my husband, who is a teacher, and our boys are home. We don’t have to pay for daycare that we really don’t need just to keep our spot open for the next school year.
Care.com also has a partnership with a company called Homepay where we can run our payroll. They will calculate state and federal taxes and pay them right out of our bank account. At the end of the year they will also send out W-2’s. Even though we’re paying for their service we’re still paying less than what we would be paying at a daycare. This has been a mutually beneficial service. Our nanny doesn’t have to worry about setting aside money to pay taxes at the end of the year and we’re able to still use our Flex Spending Dependent Care Account to save some money that way.
Having someone home to help us organize our life is tremendously helpful. We don’t ask her to do a lot of ‘extras’, but having someone just empty the dishwasher, put away laundry, organize our girl’s drawers or get food out for dinner is such a stress and time saver. Besides just being convenient, it allows us so much more time with our family at the end of the day by not having to drive all over town to pick up kids and eliminating some of our nightly chores! She’s even come to Dr. appointments so we’re able to have everyone seen at one time and have an extra set of hands without both of us taking the time off work.
We know that in the next year or so we are going to have to start looking again for a daycare. Our girls need more socialization, they need to learn to play with other kids their age, and start building up their immune system, etc. It was such a huge lifesaver to have them home for at least their first two years of life. Only having to worry about getting two kids ready for school in the morning instead of four, not having two drop offs and two pick-ups was an everyday benefit. I will be forever grateful to whatever well-meaning friend told me to check out the possibility and that I let myself explore the seemingly impossible.
Heather Hayner is a happily married, full-time working mom of four including a surprise set of identical twin girls. In her former life she was a lover of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, traveling, live music and book reading. She is now just happy to get dishes done before bedtime.
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