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Nanny, Babysitter, Summer Camp or Day Care? Which is Best

Updated on March 22, 2013
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Introduction to Picking a Method of Child Care

Whether you are looking for someone to watch your child(ren) while they are out of school for the summer or you just need a few hours of care on days you work, you have lots of options. In this article we will explore each option in detail.

First, before we begin keep in mind that child care is a tax write off (its actually a “credit” to be technical). That means you will be able to claim it on your annual taxes as basically money you had to pay out / lost. BE SURE TO CLAIM IT!!! Every writeoff / credit you fail to claim is wasteful because you're throwing out money for no reason! So as you read this article, keep in mind that you will be able to get tax relief for your expenses in regard to child care.


There are tons of day camps and summer camps in just about every city. You can find camps that do everything from sports to horseback riding and field trips.

The upside of these programs is that they are genuine opportunities for your child to learn awesome things. As a business owner I participate in community events and I love going to silent auctions that raise money for charity At an auction I attended last year I was the winner of a one-week horseback riding school camp that was an amazing experience for my sons.

The downside is that the regular price of camps of this nature is around $300 a WEEK. If you have two children like I do, $600 a week adds up to a darn lot of money a month!

There are also programs offered through local parks and recreations, but many of these programs will run you $100 - $200 a week for only HALF DAYS, so in my case, $300 for full days was a better deal.

To obtain information about your communities local programs, go to your City Hall or check out your communities online website (or just do a Google Search).

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Have You Used Summer Camp Programs

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To be 100% honest, I have had near-terrible luck with sitters. I have tried both in-home sitters and in-their-home sitters. Out of the numerous ones I have used, only ONE was great. Two of my sitters literally stole from me and the other one was on her phone the entire time and not watching the children at all. Unfortunately, I came to discover this only after my son had been pushed into our koi fish pond by her child. I have since given up on sitters – even those with good referrals.

And let me note that there is nothing worse than a babysitter who decides she can't come to work that day which leaves you absolutely stranded and likely in hot-water with your boss!

A babysitter will run you around $7 an hour per child. Some will give discounts, such as $10 an hour for two children. Infants may cost more.

CAUTION: Although you may believe you are getting a great deal by finding a babysitter who is willing to work for "nothing" (such as $3 an hour); you get what you pay for. If it sounds too good to be IS.


A nanny is a glorified babysitter who is paid more and does more tasks, such as cleaning. My luck has been the same with nannies as with babysitters. Having to keep rooms in your home locked to avoid theft or snooping is just absurd. It is very unfortunate.

The worst part about a nanny is if they decide to quit and you are left scrambling to basically hire the first person to come along out of pure desperation.

A nanny can run several dollars more than a babysitter being that their tasks are greater. A $12/hour nanny who works 40 hours a week is going to cost you $480 – which is even more than putting your child in a high-end program like the horseback riding school!!!


Have You Had Problems With a Nanny / Sitter?

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Fantastic website; 100% Free information on Nannies as well as employment opportunities
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School Programs / Child Care

I recently found that for only $7 an hour I can enroll BOTH my children into a school program. Not only do they get to play sports in the gym, board games in the classroom and participate in activities like story-time, drawing, Lego building, etc but they also get to build friendships with other children of the same age. In addition, the hours of operation are 6am to 7pm, so it is very practical. Being that you are only charged for the hours and days you need the care, you don’t have to worry about wasted money.


1. Cost: Before you select a program consider ALL costs. If you are looking into a school program or day camp / summer camp - ARE THERE ADDITIONAL CHARGES? For example, some summer-long programs take field trips or require additional monies to be paid for supplies. These extra costs can add up to a lot.

How to determine costs versus your pay:

Take your hourly TAKE HOME PAY (not your "wage" - consider what you physically "bring home" after taxes are taken out of your check. You can do this by looking at the total amount of your check then dividing it by the hours worked. For example, if your weekly check is $425 and you worked hours, you are "taking home" $10.63 per hours) then subtract the amount you will be required to pay-out for child care.

2. What are the HOURS of availability for the child care program and are you paying for unneeded hours?

As an example, many summer camps or weekly camps are a flat rate of X-amount (let's pretend it is $300 per week) and the hours are X-to-X (let's pretend 7am to 5pm). If you do not need child care until noon, you are paying for 5 hours a day of unneeded child care. Could this money be better utilized?

In addition, does the start and end times of care conflict with your schedule? As I have noticed, many of the summer camp programs end at 3pm or 4pm. If you must work till 5pm or 6pm; what is your plan (and costs) for the additional hours of needed care?

3. What is the policy for unneeded days as a whole? If your child falls ill and you are forced to miss a day or two of the child care program, are you still billed for them? Or, lets say Grandma wants to babysit every Tuesday; are you still billed for Tuesdays?

4. If hiring a nanny or babysitter; what is your plan for when they fall ill or call-off?

5. If you hire a nanny or babysitter; what is your plan for "screening"; do you plan to pay for drug testing each candidate as well as background checks and fingerprinting? These expenses can also add up if you need to screen multiple candidates.

6. if you hire a nanny / sitter; what is "Plan B" in the event that this person doesn't work out? Perhaps he/she is consistently late or simply doesn't "cut it" in regard to your expectations

7. Do you plan to implement a contract if you are hiring a sitter or nanny? If so, you need to make sure your contract is LEGAL according to your state laws. If you are not familiar with state laws, you may need to consult a lawyer which is another expense.


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    • alfetherlin profile image


      4 years ago from Illinois

      I feel summer camps, through day cares, are excellent ways for children to spend their summer. They aren't that expensive if you research and compare. The cost balances out based on how your child will continue learning, get to play with others their age and have guaranteed exercise and fresh air.


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