There is probably nothing more scary for a working couple with children than the issues of finding the right kind of day care based on their joint (let's hope they agree) opinions and needs.
Back when my children were young, I was a manager in a Sales branch office. When my colleague at work had to leave to get home - - he really had to leave to get home. It meant that it was his responsibility to be home that night or that his wife called and said that she couldn't get home on time and needed his help. And if he didn't make it, "the baby would be in the driveway!!".
It became a bit of a mantra for a number of us about our responsibilities at home. Now what he meant was that the babysitter had an end time and he needed to ensure that they didn't make the babysitter stay late. What he also meant was that he wasn't able to work late. It was never a problem because, as a team, we all understood that.
The options of day care prior to kids being in school full time all have their benefits and drawbacks. Now I come from a point of view where the husband and wife do their best to equally share responsibilities, just so you know.
Our options and our final decision:
- Day Care. We opted out of this because we didn't like the structured hours, getting the kid(s) into snowsuits in the cold winter mornings. The benefits were the social interactions and that you keep your house to yourself.
- Babysitter comes to the house. We could never find someone like this until post-first grade for our youngest. Then my wife and I shared the morning duties had an afternoon babysitter come it. It was wonderful
- Live-in nanny. Some call this an au pair. We liked it because we didn't have to get the kids out of the house early and they had their own morning schedule. We organized some playdates and other programs for socialization and even had the nanny do simple chores (I wonder if you can do things like this now, 15-20 years later?). The drawback - we had a teenager living in our house!! A teenager that we didn't raise. A teenager for whom we had to be pseudo-parents.
- One partner stays home. Not for us. Works for others. Future blog topic on this one in the queue.
We think we raised two wonderful kids. I don't think it was the nanny that was a make or break here. What made it work was that my wife and I were almost always in agreement on parenting strategy and we were always vigilant. Raising kids isn't something to ever be casual about. But we did well with our nannies and would choose to do it again.
As a matter of fact, having a job isn't something to ever be casual about either. Both work and life are hard and I don't think things every really get easier. That's just the nature of things.
BTW, the side benefit from our decision to have nannies was that we have some incredibly funny stories that will last a lifetime. Dull time at a party? Ask about a four cheese sauce vs. Velveeta, or taking out the garage door with our car, or the $5,000 phone bill found in my car belonging to the family of my nanny's best friend (and the husband of that family was a colleague of mine in the office!!). All in a day's work??