Why You Can't Compare Nanny Rates To Daycare Rates

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Photo via Unsplash x Paige Marie

I hear it all too often. People constantly comparing nanny rates to daycare rates. Or people posting home daycare ads in nanny job Facebook groups. Let me just stop you and explain why it's NEVER okay to compare these professions. First and foremost, a nanny is generally the most expensive form of childcare (I am aware that there are some high end daycares that do cost more than a nanny if you have multiple kids). It is a luxury and not everyone can afford it. I'm not trying to be harsh, but that's the reality. It is not okay to compare a nanny's rate to that of a daycare because they are two entirely different forms of childcare.

So let's break it down.

A nanny comes to your home on a regular basis (either full-time or part-time). A nanny focuses directly on your child/children to ensure they are reaching milestones, are loved, and are being raised the way YOU want them raised. Nannies are an extension of you. If you are raising your child a certain way, your nanny fills in and raises them and loves them when you can't be there. A nanny also does extra child related chores around the house. Many nannies grocery shop for the family they work for and help maintain a smooth household. These are not things you will get when putting your child in daycare.

This is not to say that those working in a daycare setting are not helping to raise your children and showering them with love, but it's different because their focus is directed at many children, rather than just your own. In addition, you have to drop your child off at daycare and don't have the convenience of someone coming to your home. And let's not forget that a daycare does not do your laundry, your grocery shopping, meal prepping, tidy your child's toys, wash bottles and breast pumps, take your child to the doctor, schedule playdates, plan daily outings, text you photos throughout the day, restock the diaper bag, OR take care of your child when they are sick (yep, you can't send your kid to daycare when they have a fever, but your nanny surely will still come into work. And then your nanny will likely have to use their own sick time or take time off unpaid when they catch the illness your child gave to them). But most importantly, let's not forget that daycares can afford to charge lower/flat rates because they have more kids signed up. Say it's $50/day per kid -- a class of just 5 kids equals $250. If you were to pay a nanny $50/day for a typical 10 hour day, you would only be paying them $5/hour!!! Not only is that illegal, but it's simply unreasonable to think a nanny can live off a poverty level wage. Plus, as I've mentioned before in the article on overtime, nannies are non-exempt hourly employees, so you cannot pay them a flat rate like you can a daycare.

Furthermore, even minimum wage is unacceptable for nannies. If you can't pay more than minimum wage (and in many areas, significantly more than minimum wage!), you really shouldn't have a nanny. Get upset if you want, but that's the industry standard and there's a reason for it. Being a nanny is hard work. It's basically like being a single parent for 10 hours/day. Plus, most nannies have years of experience and education behind them. This is what you are paying for when you hire a nanny. You are paying for a very customized and intimate form of childcare. Nannies, remember this when you are applying for jobs and agreeing to pay. Please, know your worth. When nannies accept positions with inappropriately low wages, they are ultimately reinforcing this type of behavior and as a result, parents continue to try and get away with it because they can. As nannies we are responsible to advocate for ourselves and help maintain/raise the standard of the nanny profession, not lower it.

Now with all that said, I want to be clear that I am in no way bashing daycares or daycare workers. Daycares have benefits that hiring a nanny doesn't, such as more structured socialization and a nice mix of activities everyday (yes, I'm aware nannies also offer socialization and a mix of activities, but I think we can all agree daycares typically have more resources for a variety of art projects/activities each day as well as structured socialization for the entire day). I'm definitely not anti-daycare -- I'm simply pointing out the facts as they relate to the cost differential. Plain and simply, nannies are much more expensive than daycares, so if you find yourself stretching just to pay a daycare rate, you shouldn't even consider hiring a nanny. Harsh, but true. Like I stated above, a nanny is a luxury and just like with any luxury item, it's not a necessity and not something everyone can afford -- even if you want one really, really badly.