So, I'm a bit of a planner (obsessive, some have called it) and within hours of seeing my positive pregnancy test, I began to ask my husband what we were going to do about child care. I knew even before we started trying to conceive that I was going to continue working. If we start with kindergarten, I've been in school for 20 years now, and I've been here because I love what I do. I love my students. I love the research. I love it all.
Initially, I was completely convinced that we needed a nanny. Right before I got pregnant, I signed up for the opportunity to teach three connected courses over an entire school year, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to take much more than 6 weeks maternity leave because I had to be back in the classroom shortly after Christmas break. Thinking of leaving a tiny 6-week old in day care seemed terrifying, and I pictured a Mary Poppins-esque woman floating to my door and allowing me to leave my little one safe and sound in the nursery.
So, I started researching, and I found out that a nanny is expensive. Really expensive. At first, I didn't let this deter me. We could afford the lower end of the nanny spectrum, and I had my mind set on someone taking care of my baby in my home.
But the more I thought about it, the less sense this made. Sure, we could afford the lowest prices for a nanny, but that also means we're affording the cheapest nanny. In this case, that seems to mean someone who is only nannying because she (they're all she's--but I'll keep the feminist commentary for another day) can't find a job in the field she really wants, usually doesn't have much training or experience, and sometimes has some odd hour requirements (because she's a part time student, for example.)
On the other hand, I could take the same amount of money and pay for a high-end day care. We're in the process of researching these now (and arduous task that I'm sure I'll rant about later). It appears that our hard-earned money can buy us day care that ensures licensed, trained specialist who want to be working in this field, individualized plans (even for infants!), a guaranteed low worker-child ratio, and some flexibility on hours.
I'm slowly coming around to the idea. I know that it will mean more hassle in the mornings and the potential for more sick days. But I'm trying to make it where this decision doesn't come with more guilt. I recognize, logically, that having someone give individual care and attention to my child in a day care is just as nurturing as having someone do it in my home, but I'm still working on accepting it emotionally.