Thursday, 15 October 2009

Nursery v. Nanny

Of course it could be argued that part (or all) of today's problems are caused by our (admittedly unusual) decision to send three children to nursery rather than get a nanny.  If there were a nanny, L wouldn't have to go anywhere so wouldn't kick up a fuss (this is ignoring the fact that she's two so is perfectly capable of kicking up a fuss about being given the wrong pair of socks, much less being left with a nany), and S & A could stay home with the nanny and their conjunctivitis, while Mummy swans off to her Proper Job.

Which is perfectly true.

So did we make the wrong decision?  I'm still not sure.

L has been in nursery for over a year now.  She was there when I went back to work before I had A and S and we kept her there for a couple of days a week when I was off with them.  She loves it, she has lots of friends and she does stuff there that I just wouldn't or couldn't do with her - I can't play pass the parcel with just her and me, and I won't upend a tin of beans on the floor and let her squish her feet in them (maybe I'm a bad mummy, but...).   Despite this, when we first started thinking about childcare for three we just assumed we'd get a nanny.

We did the whole advertise, interview, offer the job, get turned down, advertise again, offer the job thing and found someone lovely and experienced.  Not Mary Poppins, but nearly.  And then I changed my mind.

Weirdly, although nursery is more expensive, it was sort of about the money.  Nannies in London want £10 net an hour.  That sounds not unreasonable until you realise that you also have to pay her tax and national insurance.  When you've done that you actually end up paying £14 an hour. Or £140 a day.  Plus heat and light and food and activities...  Even ignoring the latter, if I were to pay my nanny £10 net an hour, I worked out I would be earning £5 net an hour.

Somehow I just couldn't get my head around the fact that my nanny was going to be taking home twice as much as me for doing my job.  And when I thought about it it did feel like my job and I suddenly couldn't bear the idea that there would be someone else in my house looking after my children.

Which is a silly and emotional reaction, but there it is. 

So we approached the nursery, who've come up with a fantastic deal. I can't reproach them as they've been great.  They're still more expensive (I'm earning £2.50 an hour - about which inevitably more later) but we do feel that the girls will get more from the nursery than they would from a nanny.  If I were a marketing nonsense person I'd talk about costs and benefits.  There's a greater cost but I think the benefits are greater.

But, as I'm rapidly discovering, there appears to be a downside too.

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