Transitioning from Nanny to Daycare/Preschool

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Transition from beloved nanny to preschool. Help!

July 2012


Our 2.9 year old will be starting preschool fulltime at the beginning of September. This means we will be saying goodbye to the nanny who has cared for him and a buddy two days per week since he was 8 months old. We've done a lot of talking about his new school, but have yet to explain that he won't be spending time with his beloved nanny anymore. Any tips on how to deal with this transition? Should we start explaining it now? Wait until we're closer to the start of school? Should we make a big deal of the last day - a ritual, dinner, exchange of gifts? What did you do to mark this change? Huge thanks in advance.
Sad to say goodbye

I completely relate to your concern about losing your special nanny! Will you stay in touch with her? Would it be possible for her to come by and visit or meet up occasionally? Here's why I ask... We went through this recently. It broke my heart to think of my son losing this relationship, he absolutely adored her. So, I told our Nanny how sad we were to lose her (she was sad, too) and we decided that we still wanted to get together occasionally. Together, we also decided to wait to tell my son until her last day. We just didn't see the benefit of telling him in advance. On that day, about an hour before she left, we told him that she was going to be away for a bit (in our case she was leaving on vacation, as well) and that we will not see her for a while. I bought some mini-cupcakes and we had a little going away celebration. We told him that we'd see her again it just won't be as often (like yours, our Nanny was 2 days per week). We didn't dwell on any if this, just explained it and moved on. When it was time for her to go we all walked to the door together and we said bye bye and did high-fives (also not making a huge deal of it). A few weeks later I invited her over for coffee and they played for an hour. He was delighted to see her. We plan to see her occasionally as she has become a dear friend. Her name comes up in conversation and we say something like ''we havent seen '''J'' in a while, maybe she can come visit soon'' and he seems perfectly happy with this. I am not sure if this helps you but maybe it will give you some ideas. It's so hard to see a great Nanny go when they have developed a special relationship with your child (and you)! The best of luck to you. Another concerned Mama

You should talk to your child about it for a couple of weeks before the transition actually happens -- but not for too long (kids that age don't understand the future very well). But definitely do some kind of ritual. An exchange of gifts might work well. My son ''wrote'' his daycare provider a letter (short & sweet -- I need you, I miss you, I love you -- she thought it was very cute). And as we were part of a little family daycare, with about half the kids ''graduating'' and moving on to preschool at the same time, we had a ''goodbye'' picnic at the park, which was fun, but also helpful for everyone to say goodbye. All of those little rituals helped him move on. It was hard, but only for a few weeks, and he loved his new school every bit as much as his old daycare. Karen


Mom freaking out about 1-year-old's transition to daycare

April 2012


We will be transitioning our son to daycare in a couple of weeks. He's been with a nanny since four months and he will be about a year old when we transition him. The nanny has been wonderful, like another mother, but it is a stretch financially so we decided we should put him in the daycare. He's very active and extremely sociable so I know that he will be fine but I keep freaking out on a daily basis that I am going to put him in an environment where he won't have an obvious ''mommy-figure'' to love him the way I do. Any advice on how I can get myself to relax and let go? How can I really be sure that he's totally ready? What does that even mean? Hand-wringer

Been there done that! I had to go through it two kids. And numerous times with new daycares. We had some interesting experiences with daycares. I highly suggest, if you can do not do full days for the first week. Then you get to feel out the daycare too. Once you have trust in the provider, your anxieties will go away fast. Besides once your little one starts crawling, then to walking, they are ready to socialize, and daycare is really best for them. Also trust me, when they cry when you leave in the morning, they stop 2 seconds after you leave. If the provider is good she will know how to distract the child and make it comfortable for both of you. Not to make you more anxious, Also I highly recommend dropping in at random times, I found my son standing up in a high chair with the daycare lady completely gone out of the room (she had a large window in front) I hv stories, but all I can say is please please check in at random times, and your anxieties will really go away!! Good luck. Alexandra

Set up a time with the day care provider when you can come to just sit and watch the interactions of the caregivers and the children for several hours. Don't take your child or chat with the caregivers - just sit there quietly, watch, listen and absorb it. You'll get a sense of how the children in care there feel, how respectful and nurturing the caregivers are, etc. After that you will either feel much more sure of your decision--or realize your anxiety is justified and you need to look for another place that feels right to you. If you don't feel good about this decision your child will know, and it will be much harder for him to get adjusted to it. Experienced provider

Just because it's daycare doesn't mean there won't be a ''mommy'' figure. The daycare where my son goes is excellent and the woman who runs the facility has children of her own. One of her children is the same age as my son. She is literally a mother and also very loving and mothering with the children in her care, which makes me feel safe leaving my son in her care during the day. Not all childcare workers are that way. They're just at a job and take care of the children's physical needs but don't seem to ''get'' the more nurturing aspects of child care. One of the workers at the daycare was like that and I was relieved when she moved on even though I felt good about his daycare overall. Make sure you feel comfortable and happy with the staff of whatever daycare you leave him at. Ask to sit in at the daycare you think you will go with a couple of times to see how the workers interact with the children. Once you feel sure he is being well cared for the anxiety will go away, or at least lessen. It's never easy to for me to leave my child in daycare, but it's a necessity I cannot prevent and much easier when I trust and like the people who care for my son. anon

I have had both my kids in daycare since they were about 3 months (now 4.5yrs and 4 months). Your son will come to love his daycare providers (even when you don't!); if you are in an institutional daycare, with multiple teachers, there will probably be a favorite too. The teachers give lots of hugs, kids climb into their laps, etc. So in a good place, the love is there, though its not mommy (I don't know how I could stand to be a teacher and have to say goodbye all the time as the kids grow up, because they really love the kids). Unless you have a little baby, it can be a tough time in the beginning, but it doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong with the place. Also, there are ages when the kids will scream when you leave and be really sad, even if they have been attending for months or years. I really do feel like the teachers are right and its often harder for the mothers than the kids.

The best thing to do is to give yourself time for the transition, so you can stay with him and only leave for a little bit at the beginning. Make sure when you leave you don't draw it out. Stay for a while to make him comfortable, when you're ready to leave pick a time when the teachers have a bit of time (so don't leave during meals or when everyone is being changed); then SAY GOODBYE (no sneaking out) and say that you'll be coming back, and then don't come back for encore goodbyes. And be cheerful when you leave. Also don't be surprised that the teachers don't necessary hang all over your kid while you're visiting and getting him comfortable. I find they step up to the plate and show a lot of attention when the parent is gone, but otherwise, they are busy with the other kids and will leave the two of you to your own devices until you're ready to leave. So you may need to directly say, ''I'm leaving, can you help me say goodbye''

And also come at unannounced times so you can see how things are going after you're gone. Also, when you are visiting with your son it can be very reassuring to see how the teachers behave with the other kids. There will be moments where there are more kids crying than can be comforted at one time, but you'll also see that the teachers really are good at getting everyone calmed down and that they do respond to the crying with love and hugs. So you'll see through the other kids that it really is okay. They do love the teachers and they are not traumatized. It's hard to know if things are working, but they usually do. Give it a month or so.

For one thing, good for you for having a wonderful nanny for your son for his first year. As a daycare worker, I recommend that route if you cannot stay at home or have a trusted family member care for your child. The use of daycare is a largely unchallenged fact in our society, and so responses that would urge you not to use daycare probably wouldn't be posted in BPN. You asked when your child would be ready, or something to that effect, and my response is when your child is verbal enough to communicate with you. I work in a very fine daycare, and many times I see babies who cannot communicate verbally so their needs are mis-guessed. A little fellow who was simply thirsty yesterday was judged as being nervous by another teacher, but when I gave him water he chugged it down and got a huge smile on his face. Find out the temper and personality of the teachers who will be caring for your child, and spend as much time there with them as you can. Observe how they treat the other children, not your child, when you are there. Of course they will cater to your child when you visit, so it is important to see how the other children are treated. Also, go at a time when it is very busy, to see the skills of the teachers when they are stressed. Judge for yourself, and be happy that your son got a great first year of life! Don't expect your son's nose to be wiped immediately, or his diaper changed immediately, or anything to happen immediately, as it's a fact of life that when many babies are being cared for at the same time, many needs need to wait. Good luck to you


When to move a child from nanny to child care?

March 2011


I am wondering at what age to make the transition to a child care setting. I can imagine that there will be a time in the not too distant future when my daughter could enjoy and learn from an environment with peer interaction, and with all the wonderful kinds of activities a child care center can offer. (I'm oriented toward a program that's more play-based, so this isn't a question about when to move a child into a more structured learning environment.)

Some background: I am a single parent of one child in the blessed position of being able to afford a nanny, due to financial support from my employer, although it is somewhat of a stretch financially. Right now that is working out for us -- I wouldn't categorize the nanny we have as an amazing nanny, but it's a decent, solid arrangement.

As I think about moving her to child care, I worry most about losing quality time with my daughter -- the rush of getting her out the door to make it to work, the time in drop-off and pick-up, etc. I relish our morning and evening times together, and I think she thrives on those and they help center her. I'm aware that these times would be more harried and hectic if I had to get us both out of the house.

At the same time, I don't want to deprive her of social interaction and opportunities to get outside of our small, rather quiet world. My child is not particularly shy, but she is definitely not used to a lot of social interaction, especially with other kids. (I've considered a nanny share, but haven't found any suitable ones in my area, as there are relatively few families with nannies in my neighborhood.)

So my question to the group is this: At what age did you make the move from nanny to child care? How did that work for your child? Any regrets about the timing of that?

I am not anticipating sending her before the fall, at the earliest, but I need to put her on a day care list and let them know an anticipated start date. It is hard to know how I'll feel six or nine months from now, so I'm having a hard time deciding on a date that I feel comfortable with. -great nest, but what about the rest?

I work part-time and was also able to stretch financially to have a nanny while my kids were young. Personally, I made the decision to move each of my two children into a group childcare arrangement around the age of 2yo. For my son, it was around 2.6 because it was simply more economical to have a nanny watch both children when my daughter was an infant. For my younger daughter, I moved her into a group program at 22 months. For each child, it seemed to be a pretty natural break when they starting showing more interest in interacting with other children, and also when they started to get impatient and bored with our nanny at home.

Having recently moved back to Berkeley, I can say there are definitely wonderful childcare options here... but I was surprised at how limited the full-day care options are. I ended up going with a fantastic 2yo program in the Berkeley hills that runs 8:30-1:30, and then finding a part-time nanny for pick-ups and afternoon care. My son started 5 mornings per week, and my daughter is starting with 2-3 mornings each week. While it's definitely a major change getting kids ready and out the door in the mornings, I think the social opportunities make it worthwhile. There are some great nannies available part-time including some who will do the driving. Two major benefits of having a nanny still are that my kids spend some relaxed time at home unwinding, and I have someone who knows my kids for occasional evenings and weekends, or if I have to work late sometimes. Hope that helps! Working Momma

I moved my child from a nanny-share to a home-based daycare at 19 months. It seemed a good time. My daughter was definitely ready for a bit more socialization. But the nanny-share was not at my home, so I had to deal with drop-off and pick-up either way.

If you pick a daycare near your home or work, or on the way to work, you won't loose too much time with your child in the evenings. But of course the mornings will be more hectic, as you'll have to get your child dressed and out the door (and maybe fed, too, depending on whether or not the daycare provider provides breakfast.)

Perhaps you should just check out recommendations from BPN and visit some of the daycares that are in the areas that are convenient for you (and whose schedules will work for you) and get a sense of how you think your child will fit in there. Each one is different. In addition to recommendations, you'll also go by your personal vibe about a place. Trust your gut.

And remember, there is no one RIGHT way to do this. Your child will probably be fine either way. Teri

Hello Mom. We had a nanny for our boy from about 6 months to 22 months. We planned to keep her longer but she made a trip to her home country to visit with her grandson. I had no intention of putting my son in daycare until about 3 yeas old. However, I am so glad that it happened. I started out by researching nearby daycares after with references through friends and BPN. I made alot of telephone calls to narrow down my options. I visited several sites and further narrowed my scope. We feel lucky to have found a wonderful daycare with only ten kids ages 2-5. They provide two healthy snacks and a hot lunch--always nutritious and organic. Backyard playtime is the first item on their schedule. They then have their snack, circle time, more backyard play, lunch, nap, afternoon snack and book reading.

My son's transition was relatively easy. He cried the first couple of times for a few minutes but was fine after that. Every child is different though. Some children cry for weeks or months after drop off. Some parents like to stay to help their child along but our provider recommended that it is easier for them to adjust if we didn't stay. I know she was right. For those more sensitive children, it may be much more difficult.

In retrospect, I wish I had put him into daycare earlier than I did because he became very bored with our nanny. As wonderful as she was (and she still cares for him on occasional date nights), she was much better with an infant. She took him to the park everyday but he loves the interactions with the other kids. He now has a wonderful ''family'' of friends whose parents offer each other support and we share birthday parties and playdates outside of school.

He also plays musical instruments, sings many songs, takes walks (field trips!), shares personal effects from home on his ''sharing day'', and arrives home excited. I am still able to spend plenty of morning time with him and after school time. I know this might sound petty, but one of the lesser benefits with my son at school, I don't have to clean up the house when I return home from work. Perhaps my utility bills are less expensive as well. Now, there will be adjustments. Our little guy contracted alot of colds, viruses, etc. I would have to stay home from work if he was too sick to go into school. You may have to voice your concerns with the provider if anything should arise (i.e. diaper rash, moodiness, etc.) You should feel free to be able to talk openly with the provider. Otherwise, daycare has been such a wonderful experience for us. Very Happy with Daycare

Between 1 1/2- 2 1/2 is the best time. Generally when they start walking and talking. Your child will enjoy the presence of others at that point and often childcare can provide a greater sense of community than spending time alone. j


Transtion 26-mo-old to preschool before baby arrives?

Dec 2010


My son, 26 mths old is in a Nanny share currently. While the situation is comfortable and easy, my husband and I are not thrilled with his Nanny. I am having a second baby in March so the thought is that if we make a change now before the baby comes, that will be easier for him. Problem is, from what we can tell most OAK/Berkeley Preschools with a Montesorri/Reggio Emilia are in full swing now and aren't taking new students until the Fall of 2011. I am sure we aren't the first parents to be inbetween caregiver cycles.

As an interim idea we have started to take a look at home-based care with a ''preschool'' feel but haven't found anything yet. Any superb recommendations would be appreciated.

So, we are kind of stuck and are looking for advice. Try to petition a preschool we like to take our son early? Go to an excellent academic-style home based preschool in the interim 8 mths (recommendations welcomed)? Stick with the Nanny until Fall of 2011?

Thoughts much appreciated! Rockridge Mom

Hi there, While I can't help you with finding a preschool that has openings, as a mom with a girl who transitioned from full time nanny to preschool I wanted to offer some advice on the transition.

Although each child is different, we eased my daughter into the preschool situation very slowly...started with just two half days a week for a few months, moved to 3 half days a week and then onto 3 full days a week. She is definitely thriving there now, but I don't think the results would have been the same if we had just moved her full time into this new situation. I have a friend who tried to do that to her son, and it backfired tremendously- now he is home again and still insecure even with his old nanny back.

So...maybe you can find a preschool that has a 2 half day a week timeslot available even this time of year? Keep the nanny for now (though you didn't mention why you weren't happy?), and see how the preschool transition goes. Some kids don't do well in a full time preschool until past 3 years of age, though my daughter was 2 when we started the half days and did great. Good Luck! Rebecca


Rough transition for 17-m-o from nanny to daycare

Nov 2009


Our son is 17 mo old and has been cared for by a nanny/nanny share since he was 3.5 months old. He has a mild temperament in general and has been pretty easy-going with transitions. He's had his first 2 days of daycare this week. This week is the transition phase, when our nanny is taking him and helping to get him adjusted to the daycare bit by bit each day. So far, I have been disappointed by the lack of clear communication by the daycare staff to explain to me how the transition is going and what is being done to ease the transition. The first day they asked our nanny to leave when according to the transition schedule there was not supposed to be separation until the 2nd or 3rd day. Our son was a wreck!

Our nanny has reported that he is crying even when she remains in the room if she gets out of his sight. When he cries the staff have apparently done nothing to comfort him and so she has felt that she had to continually intervene in order to reassure him and calm him down (when she was tryign to keep to the sidelines). Can somebody please let me know there experience with day care transition? Is this nonchalant attitude by the daycare ''normal''? anon

It's completely normal for a 17 month old to cry for after only 2 days of care! I'm a toddler care provider and have had kids who still cry at drop off after a year! They often then turn around and have a wonderful day. If you have concerns about what the childcare providers are doing, ask them specifically, don't rely on second hand observations. They may have a strategy. Some children get really angry when you try to hold them while they are expressing their feelings about the transition. In my program we honor the child's emotions and don't try to change them, but acknowledge them. Could they be doing that? Also, the drop off person should have a predictable routine. Once they say they are leaving, they should leave and give concrete information, ''Momma will pick you up after nap''. Don't keep turning around to comfort a crying child, it raises their anxiety level. Tell them, ''Sue will pick you up and hug you if you need her.'' Here is a link to some more toddler separation info: stephanie

We transitioned our daughter when she was 11 months to a family owned day care. She had been home with one of us up until then. The day care had 10 kids total with 2 staff (the owner and a helper), and a lot of other family help at various times. This is the way we did transition: visited together 2-3 times for 30-60 minutes. Visited together for an hour, left her for an hour (she cried, the lady held her and tried to distract her). did that 1-2 times. did 3 days of 4 hour days. then went full time (8.5 hours, 3 days a week). She stopped crying after a few visits. The lady always held her when we left and tried (successfully) to distract her, and we felt she really knew how hard it was both for us to leave our baby and for our baby to be left. Of course, even though this place came highly recommended by close friends, it felt awful to leave her. We felt guilty for not getting a nanny and I cried myself when I had to leave my daughter! But we did trust the staff and by the end of a few months we all loved it. It was obvious how much the owner loved the kids. If you do not feel good about this place you are using, you may want to listen to that. You may feel differently (better or worse) if you are able to do some of this transitioning yourself? It's so hard with work schedules, but it could save you months of not knowing/doing it all over again/angst. Trust your instincts. There are a lot of good daycares out there. C


Baby coming and older sib starting preschool

May 2007


I am hoping for some advice from parents who have successfully transitioned older siblings to FT preschool around the same time a new sibling is born, while trying to hold onto their original nanny for #2. I am due with #2 in mid-September, around the same time our oldest (who will be roughly 2.5) has been accepted to a nearby preschool. Our share-mate is definitely starting preschool in September so at that point we're on our own with our nanny. Unfortunately ,we can't afford to pay her to care for both kids -- we'll need a share for the new baby (and actully we think nanny shares are great for socialization so we favor it anyway). We need a solution that balances two issues: (1) concern about my older child rebelling against pre-school after baby arrives; (2) a desire to keep our wonderful nanny during my maternity leave without breaking the bank. Some Questions: How important is it to introduce the oldest to pre-school before the baby arrives, so he doesn't think he's being outsourced in favor of baby #2? My intuition tells me this is a good idea but perhaps I am overthinking this. Also, for those who kept their nanny for a second share, how did you sort that out? If you kept her on your own for a while, did you negotiate a lower share rate since it was ''same family''? The last thing I want to do is pay our nanny less but we simply can't afford the $19/hour share rate, particilarly when I am off work. Our nanny suggested we start a new share in October timeframe (even though I am not going back to work until January). This would still be tough for us financially (and unnecessary since I'll be home) but I am seriously considering it since it would allow us to keep her. I welcome any and all advice on the topic. Thanks in advance!

Could you use your nanny at least part time starting in October? Maybe you could find a family that wants to share with you full-time and another family that could ''sublet'' some of your days from you--ie, someone else who needs part time care and who won't be too sad about being pushed out once your baby needs full-time care, either because they are moving, starting day-care midyear, etc. If I have learned one thing from the BPN child care digest, it is that there are a million possibilities. anon


I think I'd like a daycare better - change?

Feb 2006


I am a mom of an 18-month old girl. I recently have been wanting to switch her care from her nanny (sheb1109>Rough transition for 17-mo-old to daycare s had for over a year) to a home daycare situation. There are many reasons for the switch, for one, I have the feeling that the nanny is usually looking out for herself. I hate this feeling, but sometimes I feel that she puts her needs before my childb1109>Rough transition for 17-mo-old to daycare s (ie spending all day in the park when it is cold outside rather than be in the house, because it is nicer for her to interact with others, however, what may be best for the child is not to be outside for the whole day!) I have tried to bring up this issue, but it sometimes seems to fall back on what the nanny wants, and I am not home anyway to remind her etc. I know my child is happy with the nanny, but I am not. Do I make the switch to a place that I really like and trust, even if it will be hard for my child? Has anyone been in this position before? On top of this, there is the chance that I might want to switch my child into a preschool come September (else I will need to wait until she is over 3 next September), so my child would just be in this new daycare for 6 or 7 months. Is it still worth it? Is this too much change in a short period? Have other parents made these changes smoothly? Or will my child adapt to these new appropriate environments if they are both nurturing and age-appropriate? To change or Not?

I don't know whether it's right to switch to daycare now. But I do have an opinion about the specific issue of going to the park on cold days. I am a stay-at-home mom, and I take my daughter to the park most days it isn't raining. She is my own child, and I couldn't be more devoted to her well-being. The main reason is we go outside so much is that she loves it. She often gets crabby in the house with only me all day. Chatting with the other adults there is just a side benefit for me -- I really go for her emjoyment. Many other parents have said the same about their kids. If they are are bundled up well, they usually don't mind a little cold weather -- it's not like we live in Minnesota, after all -- and they love being outdoors around the other kids, even if they don't quite play cooperatively yet. I see many loving, attentive nannies at the parks we frequent, and the kids usually seem happy to be there. Now, there's probably a lot else going on in your situation, but on that one point, I think you are OK. Anon

It isn't going to be easy on your or your child to go through two major childcare changes in the next 6-7 months. If you choose carefully, perhaps you will only need to transition once, from nanny to daycare..then stay with that daycare. Don't just put your child in anywhere to avoid having future dealings with this nanny. Or, You may have to have a chat with your nanny - put things in writing and get her to sign it. Get angry if need be. Remind her that she is working for you not the other way round. Give her an outing time limit - call the house to see that she is back within the alotted time. Ask her to provide alternatives to staying out all day. Ask her to explain exactly why she doesn't like being in the house. Could she take your child to Gymboree or something if she needs to be out longer than a walk in the park might take? You sound as if you have put up with this and now the nanny is comfortable doing it - you need to create some discomfort and get her back on track. If she is unwilling, start looking for alternatives - but make changing daycare two times a last resort. Your child comes first

You should feel 100% comfortable and happy with a nanny. At the very least she should pay attantion to your expectations of how she spends her day with your child. You are paying her to do so. If you do not believe in her you should change.

Kids are so open (at least my 2 1/2 year old is) and I have found that they adjust to changes better than we think. A daycare situation will be fun for your child and will introduce him to lots of friends and new ways to interact and explore the world.

My son has a nanny 2 days a week and 1 day he's with my sister and occasionally he goes to a drop in daycare center. AND he spends every weekend with his father. So many changes and he's the most social, funny, happy, and well adjusted child I know.

Go for it. Most kids really like being around other kids. monica


What to do about nanny when child starts preschool

March 2005


Our wonderful nanny has watched our daughter since she was four months old. She will be 2 years and 2 months in September and we are stressing about schools, childcare, etc. My husband and I both work full time and would like our daughter to go to school part time. We can't afford both a nanny and school. What do people do? Has anyone been able to find a nanny situation where the nanny works part time picking up kids from school? We know there are others in our situation. How have you handled this? Stressing about school

Hi, We had the same issues when my son was 3.5 and started preschool. He had been with the same nanny since he was 6months old and we did not want to sever the relationship. Our solution was to put our son in preschool half days (9-1) and have the nanny with him in the afternoon. To offset the cost of the nanny we turned the afternoon into a nanny-SHARE and invited other children the same age to join. It took some time to find the right share partners, but it did work out. On some days there are three children and other days 2. Our nanny is able to bring in the same amount of money because she receives hourly income from all the families, but the families all pay less. It has worked out for everyone and we have all made some great new friends. Best of luck to you! anon

I would look into a nanny share. Since you are happy with your nanny, you could use Berkeley Parents Network to post a ''Nanny Share'' ad and ask another family in your neighborhood to consider your joining your particular arrangement. If your nanny is open to this, she will earn more, keep a full time job, and your portion of the bill will be less overall. Hopefully, your nanny drives and she can drop your child off at preschool and take care of the other (preferably younger) child during the time that yours is attending class at either your house or his/her's. Your nanny will be there for your during school holidays and will be able to help be there when there are special parent participation events at the school that you cannot attend due to work conflicts. Lynn

We did this. We wanted to hold on to our relationship with our wonderful nanny once our 3.5-year-old started pre-school. We hoped that she would be able to care for him in the afternoons when preschool ended. She had been caring for him full-time since he was 6 months old. Also we shared with another child part-time who started the same pre-school at the same time as our son. The preschool ended at 12:30. We looked for another family that only needed a nanny in the mornings. It took a long time to find a family who needed the right days at the right time in the right location (we posted to the BPN childcare newsletter.) We did find a family that *almost but not quite* matched. They needed our nanny 4 days a week till 12:30 but our school, on the other side of town, ended at 12:30. So she couldn't get there in time to pick the kids up. So we patched together a system where one of us parents leaves work at 12:30, meets the kids at preschool, and waits with them in the playyard till the nanny arrives 20-30 minutes later. Not perfect, but it works, and we still get to have our nanny! G.

When our son started preschool, we continued to employ his nanny to pick him up in the afternoons and care for him until we got home from work. She also cared for him all day on the one day per week that he did not (at that time) attend preschool. It worked beautifully for us, because we didn't have to stress out about picking our son up on time from school -- basically an impossibility given our work schedules -- and we liked maintaining his long-term relationship with his nanny.

We found that the total cost of preschool plus part time nanny (one on one) was only very slightly less than we had been paying for full time nanny care (with some shared time). But it certainly wasn't more!

We made various attempts to find another family or families who would employ our nanny during the hours we no longer needed her, and although several good prospects ultimately fell through, our nanny liked us enough that she was happy to continue with us rather than quit and try to find a different full time position.

So go ahead and broach the subject with your nanny. She may be perfectly willing to work ''after school'' for you, particularly if you can find someone else with whom you can split and/or share her time. anon


Too much overhead managing nanny - change to daycare?

Oct 2004


We recently hired a nanny that we share with another family full time (5 days a week). Our son seems happy with the nanny, and the two boys seem happy together, but the situation is not perfect. We have had trouble communicating with her and the other family.

While our son appears happy, managing this new employee, as well as the relationship with the other family, is more time consuming than we had predicted. We are wondering if we should have looked more seriously at day care situations. We chose a nanny because we felt our child would receive more individualized attention. In addition, we had to find someone on short notice and just assumed that daycares would not be able to accomodate us. Now I'm wondering if we should have pursued day care because it seems that going that route less of our time would be spent on management.

First, I'm trying to get a sense of whether what we're going through is normal. Do others who are using a nanny share find the management onerous? Because we're new to this, I can't tell if what we're experiencing is unique or typical. In addition, I would like to know if other people started out with a nanny and decided to switch to daycare, and if so why? Thanks for your thoughts. reconsidering our choice

I did not have a share situation but I did transition from nanny to daycare. I too made the assumption that having a nanny would provide more attention to my son. There are several reasons I felt changing to a daycare was better for our situation. My son loves going there and doesn't like to leave. He's made many friends. The main teacher of this small home daycare loves the work she does and it shows. I don't have to coordinate or schedule anything. I just drop him off. Nannies are far more expensive.

All around it works for us. I have friends that have done shares or coop type situations and that has worked well for them. It's important to pay attention to your instincts. molly

I have had several nannies and i would agree, even the best of them seem to take up a lot of time ''managing'' their various issues. Nanny shares can also take up a lot of time and energy to administer. To me, this is certainly a valid reason to choose daycare over a nanny. In hindsight, after having devoted hundreds of hours to nanny ''stuff'' I wish i had chosen daycare earlier on. My advice to you is to do a lot of due diligence on the daycare as well, because based on what i've read on this digest, daycares can give rise to time-consuming problems as well, and it can be harder to replace a daycare than a nanny. Fran

I strongly feel that daycares and preschool will help children grow and learn faster and with greater interest than with a single adult. In a situation involving 6-12 kids, the children learn from eachother as well as from the teacher. Some kids learn faster and can teach other kids how to keep up. It's a kind of pack mentality. Since we are social beings we need to take into consideration that socializing is a key factor to communication. Not just verbally but, emotionally as well. Being surrounded by children with all kinds of emotional needs gives your child an opportunity to express him/herself freely. Which is an important step towrds nurturing creative flow. Whether it be writing, art, music or pretend play (acting)... these are all key elements that help a child tap into his/her own exploratory capabilities. Being isolated with a nanny can be detrimental and limiting. Kids need to have falls, have disagreements and have time away from adults so they can be themselves with their peers. Just like moms and dads need to go out alone to have quality time with each other.

I highly recommend you consider a day care ( I know one that has openings right now in Berkeley - because we just left to go to a 'big kid' preschool after 1.5 years there). There so much to be explored that a nanny and trips to the park can't provide. Hope this helps! tinygirl_oak

Nanny or daycare? There is no universal right answer for any given family. One thing we have found is that given that the stakes are so high (the well-being of your child) and people are (consciously or not) insecure about their choices you will find that many/most people conclude that whatever they have chosen is the RIGHT choice. Because if it wasn't - what does that say about them and their parenting? Remembering that will help you to take a breath when evaluating the endless choices ahead of you as you parent.

What we did: We chose daycare. Why? Daycare doesn't get sick. That was one reason. The hours and availability were constant. The rules were clear. What else? All daycare is not created equal. So it isn't daycare or nanny - but which daycare or which nanny? The quality of childcare in both cases varies tremendously. We found a fantastic program - one where we felt the teachers were committed to childare as a profession, were compassionate, skilled, respected and respectful, made a decent living and more. We also like what it taught both our children about relating to others and being in a group. They liked playing with other children but still had adequate time for naps and quiet, alone time. We learned from the teachers and directors as in any given situation they had faced it before and we were doing it for the first time. It felt like a partnership. We also felt like both our children got plenty of individualized attention, comfort and help.

The down-side of daycare? You have to get your child up and out the door on time with a lunch packed. If they are sick, which will happen, you need to have alternate arrangements handy.

We have had really good luck with sitters but you are depending on a daytime nanny to be a lot of things - energetic, responsible, loving,etc. And, as you mention, there is all the dynamics of working with her and another family. All childcare arrangements take time and management. But communication is key and you need to feel comfortable about that. Could you set up a regular meeting time to talk in person with the other family and/or the nanny so that it isn't just when there is a problem that you are talking? That way a set time could have casual conversation lead to problem solving without it being contentious. Good luck. All of these decisions and processes regarding your children feel huge. -another mom making choices

It sounds like your share situation is not ideal. We currently have a nanny and are so pleased. The attention our daughter is getting could not possibly be replicated in day care. Also, getting to nap at home in her crib is really important as well. Your son sounds happy which is the ultimate goal - but maybe a different share situation would be better? anon

Hi, we had a nanny for the approx. 4 years and she cared for my first and second child from 9 mo- 3 years old. We joined a nanny share with friends so we had a lot of confidence in the the nanny going into it, but I must say that the one down-side of all those years was the feeling of the burden of employing someone. The paperwork was stressful (we did both under and over the table), negotiating vacation, sick time, etc.. it is the ''not-so-perfect'' part of that childcare choice. So, if you want reassurance that what you are going thru is normal, I can say I completely relate. That said, I am grateful for the care and love that our nanny gave to our kids, especially when they were so young (you do not say how old your child is). We would not do things differently because nothing's perfect, and if we had to deal with a daycare situation, we would have had to stay home when our child was sick (which in daycare is A LOT), our kids would likely have cried a lot more being rushed out of the house to get to daycare and being left there and instead they were in their comfort zone of their own house and had a nanny they loved and had their ''nanny-share friends'' come over to play. If you are having trouble communicating with your nanny, that can snowball into bigger issues, so make every attempt now to clear things up-- we had a notebook where we wrote down expectations and questions so we could communicate (both with the nanny and with other families) there sometimes when face-to- face didn't work or was too rushed (like drop-of and pick-up). Our nanny also used it to keep her daily schedule up to date for us. We also had a checklist for eating and naptime which we wanted to know about and our nanny could easily check stuff off during the day so she didn't have to remember the details for each child when we asked-- for me anyway that kind of stuff is hard to remember when days start to run into each other. So whatever issue you are having trouble communicating on, if you really want it to work, think of things that might make it easier for the nanny to communicate with you. Good luck. luisa

your post did not say how old your child is. i found that when my daughter was an infant and young toddler, having a nanny was invaluable - lots of great attention on her that really helped her be a happy and balanced little person. and while it is a lot of work to have an employee, i always reminded myself how the time spent handling that was time i did not have to spend getting my child to a program on time, looking for a sitter for after school hours, etc. it's not easy but it can be great - so long as you communicate regularly and openly. your post didn't say why communication is difficult with your nanny - personality? language barrier? whatever it is, work on it and your day to day stress level will get much lower. back to the age thing - as my child has gotten older, she's doing a share and next year she'll be going to preschool. i think the 'ideal' for each child and family varies as the years go on. good luck

If you are not really happy with your childcare situation, then of course you should look into other arrangements! But the question isn't really nanny share vs. daycare, it's THIS nanny share vs. some other nanny and/or some other share partner vs. a non-shared nanny vs. home-based daycare vs. daycare center etc. etc. etc.

We entered into a nanny share arrangement with really very little planning and without a great deal of ''comparison shopping'' when my son was 6 months old. We got lucky; the whole thing worked beautifully for years and the two babies became kids who entered the same preschool at the same time and continued to share the same nanny part time. And we're now re- hiring the same nanny (though with a different share partner) for our second baby. Now, I won't say the situation was ''perfect'' -- I doubt there is such a thing. But despite some differences in parenting style we got along well enough with the other family, and continue to swap babysitting sometimes with them. And despite a bit of a language barrier, we trusted our nanny and didn't have too much trouble communicating with her -- and she was amazingly reliable and, well, uncomplicated to deal with, which I gather isn't always the case. I find that the ''management'' stuff is much more difficult now that our son is in preschool than it ever was with the nanny arrangement, but others have a different experience, and I'm sure it varies among individual situations far more than it does between types of situation, if you see what I mean.

So listen to your gut. Be glad that you've got your child in a situation where he is safe and happy so that you can take your time exploring possible alternatives. You may find that in fact, what you have is the best available option, and rest easy. Or you might find something that works much better for you, and take it. Just be sure to give the nanny and the share family reasonable notice before departing, and be fair about things like the nanny's final paycheck. Fan of nanny shares

For the first year of life it is widely held (from good research) that one on one care is preferred. It is less clear from 1 year on what might be best. Temperament and financial means are critical decision makers thereafter. The advantages of the nanny/share are not having to get the child out the door too early, maybe fewer days of illness, more one on one, less chaos in the child's environment. This can cost about $1000 per month (sharing)- don't know equivalent for daycare. I did share from 1-3 years and then went total preschool and now doing preschool plus nanny (to have less preschool). I would definitely do nanny share again even with the hassles, as it worked out not to be too strenuous. Anon

I would have posted earlier, but thought more folks would extol the virtues of nanny share. For the record, we have thoroughly enjoyed the nanny share experience in large part for all the same reasons folks came down either on the side of day care or of a single nanny. First, nanny-management is not a problem for us because three families have responsibility for how the day is spent instead of one (and then there's the fact that we have the perfect childcare provider). That has translated into a day that is full of things we might not have thought of and no ''tension'' with issues we're uncomfortable with. Our shared experiences allow us to temper our concerns with a dose of reality. Second, our child gets the social interaction of being in a daycare situation with the personal attention of being with one care provided. As a result, we think he's a more socialized child and we feel that he's being given personalized attention that he wouldn't have in a day care. Third, we are not sick all the time. While it is inevitable that children will infect each other (and to some extent that helps to build their immune system), there are few enough of us that we can establish our own guidelines about when a runny nose means your kid should stay home, and when it's OK to put him in the share. In the day care situation, we learned from friends that some parents, eager to get to work, will pump their sick child up with Tylenol and dump him off before his nose starts to ooze again; as a result, the kids and the parents are sick for like, 3 years, since there's always some icky virus running around. If a kid isn't sneezing on your kid, he's sneezing on the squeaky toy your kid will pick up in 2 minutes. Don't get me wrong; we love the concept of group care and the daycare model appeals to us, generally. Similarly, the idea of one-on- one care (tempered with some social interaction) is somethng in which we also can see great value. That said, having done the nanny share, were we to have a second child, we wouldn't go any other way. --Tsan

Didn't see the original post...but here's my two cents on the nanny vs. daycare. There are pros and cons to both... but for me...I guess I like the idea of someone watching the watchers. My gut was reinforced the other day when I was picking up my child at daycare and witnessed a nanny leave two pre-school age kids in her car for 20 minutes while she was picking up her own child at day care (and hanging out in the center). anon


Conflicted about changing 2-year-old from nanny to daycare

Aug 2002


I am about to enroll my 2 year old daughter in a daycare center, two days a week. But I feel very torn about letting the baby-sitter go. She took care of her at our house for almost two years. I am worried about my daughter loosing the one-to-one contact with her, but in the other hand I feel she needs more contact with other children and a more structured/stimulating enviroment. Other reasons for the change are economical and I need more time home alone to work. One moment I feel I am doing the right thing, one moment later I feel I am being selfish. I would love to hear from other parents that felt the same way. Thank you! anonymous

Just two thoughts (1) she will have to give up her babysitter at some point and I think kids this age adjust pretty quickly and (2) no reason she has to give up all contact because you could still use the babysitter for occasional nights/weekends. And one piece of advice -- trust your instincts. You know what is best for your child and for you. Stephanie