So you’ve been the primary care taker for your young children and you’ve reached the point where you have to go back to work or just need a few hours a week to get your head straight. It can be a daunting task to find the most appropriate child care for your precious babes, but there are choices available. Whether you have a 3 month-old infant or a three year-old toddler, the right child care scenario for you is out there. Below are child care options available around the Bay Area that could be a great fit for you.
Nanny – Quite possibly the best care you can have for your young children, if you can afford it. While not necessarily as consistent and reliable as Day Care, with a nanny you can expect commitment to a schedule starting before you go to work, and be there when you get back. Typically nannies work in your home 9 to 10 hours per day, 5 days a week, and range between $18 – $25/hour, depending on the number of children they need to care for. A nanny is a professional childcare giver, which requires paid sick and vacation time. And, if your nanny is sick or out of town, it may require you to take a sick day, as well. The benefits to having your own nanny start with primary focus on your child. Specific meals, activities, naps, and a close watchful eye, in your own home, are just a few of the perks of hiring a nanny. Check out BayAreaMothers.com forums for referrals for great nannies in your area.
Share-Care – This could be the best care / price option available. With share-care, you and another family use the same nanny and split the cost. If the children live close to each other, this could work out well for all. While there is more logistically to consider with sharing a nanny, your children can benefit from the top notch care a nanny provides, without you having to float the entire bill on your own.
Au-Pair – If you have enough space in your house, an in-home au-pair is another option to consider. Many young folks come from abroad looking to spend time in the Bay Area while being a full-time nanny. Most commonly, your end of the deal is to provide them with a private room and a monthly stipend of around $1400. Sites such as AuPairCare.com can help you find au-pairs ready to work in the Bay Area. The draw-back is usually these are not professional childcare givers and are not quite on par with professional nannies.
Day Care – Day care is probably the most reliable and social, and the least expensive solution for childcare. Your child can stay entertained and on a positive developmental track with fun and educational games throughout the day. The draw-back is that, because it is in someone else’s home, it can be stressful for some children, usually provides the least amount of attention for your child, and drop-off and pick up adds to your commute time. The typical cost of day care in the Bay Area is $1500-$2000 a month for full time day care. Lower-income families can benefit, however, from government subsidies to cover some of these expenses.
Parent Rotation – If you are lucky enough to be a part of a great parents group, such as bayareamothers.com, or have friends with kids of similar ages to your own, rotating child care duties is a great way to alleviate the financial stress of paying for child care, while allowing each other some baby-free time. The idea is to set up a schedule for when each parent, or team of parents, if need be, take turns watching each other’s children. Your kids will benefit from playtime with others and you’ll probably come out of it with a few new friends, too!