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A babysitter in hand is worth two daycares in the bush (or not)

April 15th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  2 Comments

babysittercover4

I wanted to react briefly to Christopher’s post yesterday on his never having used a babysitter. Not to be too harsh, but Chris—so what?

Let’s consider the distinction your drew between your child’s daycare and a sitter. First, I’m not convinced that daycare is “hardly the same thing” as a babysitter. In fact, while they are not exactly the same thing, they are awfully similar. In fact, with an infant, when there is no educational component to the daycare, I would say they are the same, except in the case of the daycare the child-to-caregiver ratio is worse.

The notion that daycare is better because “it’s operated by the same caregivers every day, [with] people we came to like very quickly, [and] who are further watched by administrators whom we also like,” doesn’t add up for me either. Granted, the jumping off point for the post was Matt’s Frugal Traveler column on vacation babysitters, but in most cases, babysitters are used at home, and generally speaking, you get to know them, in most cases better than you do the people at the daycare.

The daycare workers spend a lot of time with your child, but largely when you’re not around, and when you are there, the opportunities to talk to them, while plentiful, are more limited than with a sitter. They’re not in your home and there are other parents whose needs and questions also have to be addressed.

Last, there is the revelation that Christopher hasn’t really had to have a babysitter due to the flexibility of his family’s schedule and the fact that there are grandparents on the scene. I too enjoy the same scenario and thus I have rarely, if ever, used a babysitter. But surely not everyone has the same luxuries that Christopher and I share.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling Christopher out. I do agree that, all things being equal, it’s preferable to provide as much care directly to your child as possible, but it just isn’t always possible, and in some cases, not advisable (occasionally, maybe not in that first year, but yes, someday you will want to go to a movie again–daycare doesn’t let that happen).

Maybe I’m just missing some of Christopher’s point. Perhaps he can point out the fourteen obvious logical errors in my response. I await the comeuppance.


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