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The Current Economy and Childcare Options

In a household with two working parents, two busy children, and one full-time nanny, what do you do when one of the parents is laid off at work?  Should the parent become a stay-at-home parent, laying off the nanny to reduce family expenses?  There are many considerations when making such a decision.  Options for creative childcare arrangements are many and varied.  A few of the most common arrangements are discussed here.

  • Nanny sharing.  One nanny, employed full-time, splits her time between two or more families.  By sharing your nanny, you can continue to employ her:  your children don’t experience the grief associated with being separated from her; when or if full-time employment is secured by the laid-off parent, the nanny can potentially be available to return to work full-time for your family; and then you don’t need to recruit and screen for a new nanny that will be a good fit for your family.
  • Shared parent caregiving.  Parents taking turns caregiving for each other’s children.    Parents who have available time take turns watching their own children and the children of others.  This is typically a fee-free arrangement.  A hypothetical situation may be as follows:  two households have one full-time employed parent, one part-time employed or job seeking parent, and two toddlers each.  The part-time employed or job seeking parents formulate a schedule in which one watches all four children on Mondays (7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), Wednesdays (7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), and Friday (7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.).  The other part-time employed or job seeking parent watched all four children on Tuesdays (7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), Thursdays (7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), and Friday (12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.).  By engaging in this fee-free arrangement, the families save the cost of a full-time nanny.  However, the children may experience grief from being separated from their nanny, and when the laid-off parent secures new employment, a new, well-qualified nanny will need to be secured (the recruitment and selection process for whom can be time consuming and arduous).
  • Part-time daycare.  The laid-off parent can enroll his/her children in part-time daycare, thus reducing childcare expenses (relative to employing a full-time nanny) while also allowing the parent some adult time to job seek.  The primary risks in this strategy are the potential for grief the children may experience in the loss of their beloved nanny and the time and expense of finding a new, well-qualified nanny when the laid-off parent obtains a new job.
  • Enrolling the children in extra civic and learning activities.  If your locale has a community arts center (or museum, or other “kid zone”) that gives children exposure to the arts (or history or other facet of culture) for two hours per day, three days per week, for a cost of whatever art supplies and other resources are used (perhaps $20 per week), then by enrolling the children in this activity, the family saves the cost of a full-time nanny less the cost of the art supplies and other resources.  However, the children may experience grief from being separated from their nanny, and when the laid-off parent secures new employment, a new, well-qualified nanny will need to be secured.

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