It’s a question that has come up time and time again in twin parenting groups: What is cheaper? What is better? Do I choose daycare or a nanny for twins? The question keeps appearing because the answer is not simple. Twins can often have special requirements and doubling the cost of daycare makes a nanny a financially viable choice. I’m sharing the choices I made for my family and explaining the pros and cons of both daycare and nannies.
Although I went back to full-time work after my daughter, when the twins were born (six years later) I would have just about broken even on childcare costs by the time I sorted after school care and infant childcare for the Twins. I chose to stay at home for a while, but as the Twins get older and my blog is growing as a work from home income, childcare choices have surfaced again for consideration.
Making The Right Choice for My Twins
By the time my twins turned one I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by SAHM cabin fever and decided to invest in a part-time Nanny. Having no family in the area (or country) means no Granny to watch the kids while I pop out to do chores or go to an appointment. Everywhere I went, the babies went, and having someone watch the Twins for a couple of afternoons a week has been fantastic.
I started by enquiring at a number of childcare centers, but most places didn’t want to take them on as one-year-olds until they could walk. Other centers may have rules about potty training for older kids. A couple of centers made me feel pretty bad about the Twins development. It took them until 18months to walk so I’m glad I didn’t wait. I also had concerns over naptime, they were in such a fantastic routine and were sleeping well, I was a terrified I might ruin a good thing. So, we chose to employ a nanny. Yesterday, however, our lovely Miss Jen left us for motherhood herself and it’s back to me and the boys rallying around together all week.
We decided not to employ another Nanny, but instead enroll them in a daycare center nearby, and they start in a few months. This is not because it’s better, we love our Nanny, and both daycare and nannies have their own benefits to consider. We’re ready to make the transition from one to the other to make the most of our personal situation, but only you can decide what is best for your littles.
The Cost of Childcare for Twins
The reasons parents often struggle to decide between daycare and a nanny for twins is because the cost is similar. Employing a nanny for a single child is often not cost-effective and the immediate choice is often daycare. But when you’re paying double, the cost of a nanny starts to make sense, leaving you with the dilemma of which is best for you.
I’ve heard moms argue both daycare and nannies are cheaper, and in reality, it depends on the individual center or person. A nanny for twins will usually cost between $15-$25 an hour, childcare centers vary massively depending on what they offer, where you live and what hours you choose. In-home daycare can be a more affordable than a fancy daycare center but do make sure they are properly certified (certification and requirements are state dependent) and check references.
For us personally, our highly qualified (and therefore higher waged) nanny cost us a little more than the Twins going to a childcare center, especially if you take into account the food and diapers included in our payments.
Benefits of Daycare for Twins
- Leaving the house. If you need time to tidy up or work from home, it’s difficult to do so if the kids are still in the house. They know you’re there and it’s distracting to hear what’s going on. Change of scenery can be good for the kids too.
- Socializing. Twins have their one little social system and are never lonely, however, it’s important for kids to learn social skills from mixing with other children. I’m hoping the transition to daycare and hearing other kids talk more will help with their speech delay too.
- Preparation for school. If your Twins have never been in a daycare environment, the transition to pre-school or kindergarten is going to be quite the shock (although kids adapt quick). Daycare is a good stepping stone and will help them get used to group instruction. You may find they can be potty trained earlier if they see other kids using the potty too.
- Meals. Many daycare centers offer breakfast, lunch, and snacks as part of the payment package. One less thing to organize on the grocery list can be really helpful. I always made sure there was something simple to prepare in the fridge ready for our nanny and I’m looking forward not having to think about it.
- Facilities and activities. If you live in a smaller home, you may not have space for the kind of activities offered at childcare centers. The variation from their toys at home and activities such as sensory play, art, and group games is a big attraction to daycare for me. Although these can be done at home, you will need to organize or at least give your nanny the appropriate equipment.
Benefits of a Nanny for Twins
- Flexibility. Although it may take time to find the perfect nanny, you can negotiate the hours you need to fit your schedule. If you start work early and have a bunch of kids to get ready and drop off at different places, your mornings are busy! With a nanny, you can leave them sleeping or chomping through breakfast, buying you valuable time.
- Helping with family life. If you work late your kids can be bathed and in their PJs when you get home, instead of having to rush around like a headless chicken trying to fit everything in when you get home (I’ve been there and its tough!). A nanny can also pick your kids up from school, take them to soccer practice and generally help your daily routine run smoothly.
- Routine. If your child still naps twice a day at 2yrs, great, a nanny will allow your kids to keep whatever routine is working for them. Many daycare centers have a fixed routine assigned to an age and also insist on kids being potty trained by 3yrs.
- Security. My boys adore their nanny, and the security of being in familiar territory at home with someone giving them her full attention helps them feel secure. My daughter also loved the staff at her daycare center but home comforts and a less hectic environment may be preferred for mom’s peace of mind.
- Sickness. Kids spread infection, and they will bring it home from daycare. Your kids will be exposed to fewer germs if you choose a nanny for twins and you can keep the house as squeaky clean as you like. Infections like colds do help build baby’s immune system but by gosh, it does get tiring for all.
- Additional responsibilities. I personally didn’t negotiate this with my nanny because her hours didn’t cover naptime. But many moms negotiate additional responsibilities during naptimes such as washing and cleaning. Getting your laundry duties thrown into the mix makes all the difference!
What do You Do?
If you’re a parent of twins I’d love to know what you do for childcare and why it works for you. I’m sure there are plenty of other perks of both that apply to individual families. Do get it touch if you want to contribute an idea and tell us whether you chose daycare or a nanny for twins.