I know this question has been posted in various forms before, but each situation is different, and I really need some help sorting out how I'm feeling about this (probably just writing it down will help me a bit!).
The situation: DD is 13 months old and has been at a great daycare since the beginning of January. When I got pg, we applied to sponsor my SIL from overseas to be our nanny (through the live-in caregiver program in Canada). After working for 2 years, she will be eligible to apply for permanent resident status here, which is a good thing for her. Anyway, the processing, etc. of her application has taken a while, and will likely be finalized in the next month or so. If we decide not to use her, she could apply to work for another employer here.
Daycare: I really like DD's daycare. It's in a small Montessori school that goes up to grade 7, and she's in the infant/toddler room - there are three teachers for 12 kids under the age of 3. I love that they get outside for a few hours every day regardless of weather, the teachers all have ECE training and CHOSE to work looking after kids, they feed and nap on-demand, the school is very health-concious (there's a "no sugar" policy for kids' lunches), and that DD gets to interact with other kids. Now, DD's been going there for nearly 2 months now and is still having a hard time adjusting - but, she's been sick for most of the time... there was about one week after she got better when she was really starting to enjoy going to daycare. But then she got sick again. She's been better this week, but hasn't seemed thrilled to be going, but there was no crying when i left her for the last two mornings, so that's a step in the right direction, at least. I feel like given time, she will adjust and she will really love going to daycare there. But maybe I'm wrong - maybe I'm projecting my love of the daycare onto how I think she should be feeling, and the daycare is just too stressful for her. DD is a very sweet and happy girl, but also very sensitive, quiet, and high-needs. Maybe she would do better with one-on-one care until she's older. I have only one minor concern with the daycare, and that is that one of the teachers is a man. I know, this shoudln't bother me at all, and I don't get any bad feelings about him or anything, but he is usually the last teacher left in the evening when I pick up DD, and I don't like it when she's the last kid and is left alone with a man. I know I shouldn't be judging based on gender, but I can't help feeling a little bit uncomfortable about the situation.
SIL: So, as I mentioned above, we've applied to sponsor my SIL as our nanny. She's trained overseas as a nurse, and is doing the nanny thing as a way to get over to Canada to live and work eventually. I've never met her, but DH says that he trusts her to look after DD. I have quite a few concerns about this situation:
- I doubt she will get DD outside very much. She's coming from a warm country, and it will likely seem "too cold" to take DD out most days (I'm just guessing this, based on DH's feelings about the weather here)
- I'm seriously concerned that the TV will be on a lot during the day. I feel very strongly about no TV when DD is around (or VERY rarely), but DH doesn't respect that and when he was home looking after DD for 2 months last year (when I went back to work), most days when I got home i would find them in the living room watching TV. His excuse is that DD's not really "watching" it, so it's okay to be on in the background. I know a lot of people feel like that, but I am strongly anti-TV at all with her in the room. DH claims that his sister won't watch TV, because I will ask her not to, and looking after DD is "her job". But, I know how lonely and boring it can be to be home alone with DD, and I know it will be really hard for her to not watch TV, particularly coming from a culture where TV is very prominent in their lives.
- Communication - when DH's parents were living with us for a few years, it was nearly impossible to communicate with them. Not due to language barriers, but just due to cultural differences and expectations. I could not tell them not to do something, and they just took over our house entirely - i felt like a guest in my own home. Again, DH says taht it won't be like this, because it's his younger sister so she will respect him/us more, but I am not so sure... Once, when I said to his mom "oh, you did a lot of laundry", DH found her crying in her room a few hours later, becuase apparently I had been implying that she did TOO much laundry and I was mad at her for it - huh? There were a lot of instances like that.
- Salary - we will be paying SIL the same amount that daycare is costing us. This is not as much as we are required to pay her by law as a live-in caregiver. I don't feel that this is right, but the only way I've been able to justify it is by "paying" her the full amount, and then asking that she repays DH a set amount each month for the tuition that he paid for her while she was in university. We wouldn't be asking her to repay that money in any other situation (i.e. it was considered a gift at the time). She would make about twice as much money working for another family, which would be more helpful to DH's family.
- My time - In some ways having a nanny would be more helpful. Laundry would get done, teh house would be cleaned, and dinner would get cooked some nights. But, I would need to put significant time into figuring out how to pay her and getting all her taxes submitted, etc. DH won't hire an accountant, becuase i'm "smart enough" to figure it all out. Of course, he won't help me though, because I'm "smarter" than him. Also, he's expecting me to research all kinds of child development stuff to tell his sister what to do with DD during the day. I like at daycare that I don't really have to worry about that.
- I'm also worried that SIL will get bored. We live in the suburbs, she doesn't drive and we're not in a rich neighborhood, so there aren't many other nannies around. If she were to work for another family, she could get paid more, work with older kids whihc would be more interesting and probably easier, and could be in an environment where there are lots of nannies around for her to connect with.
Some of the good things about having her:
- DD would get more exposure to DH's language, which is important.
- I occasionally travel for work, and DH has shift work, so we would have someone home with DD overnight if I was away. Or if I went away for a long time, I would bring DD and SIL with me.
-DD would get more one on one time
- I would possibly have more control over what DD does each day
- Less household chores for me to do
- I would have a potential friend living in my house (I'm pretty lonely these days). But more likely I think our relationship may be strained, due to the employer-employee relationship we'd have...
Anyway, if the decision was entirely up to me, I would leave DD in the daycare. DH feels quite strongly about having his sister, but says the choice is up to me (of course, this means that if we leave her in daycare, all of her food prep, daycare pickup and dropoff, etc. will be left to me, since it was my choice to have her there). I am not going to make the choice myself, I will make sure that DH agrees on some level, but I need to sort out how I really truly feel before I talk about it with him.
This situation is tough becuase of the family dynamics. I'm not sure how his family will respond if we don't take his sister as our nanny. But if we do use her, and it doesn't work out for whatever reason, then that will also cause problems with his family. Oh, and when his parents were living with us, our marriage was really strained, and DH really felt stuck in the middle and torn between us.
*sigh* I feel like it's a really messy, complicated situation, and obviously no one can tell me what to do. But I would love to hear other's experiences either with family members as live-in nannies, or similar situations. Also, your thoughts of the benefits of daycare vs. having an at-home caregiver at such a young age.
Thanks for reading