A firestorm was set off by a Globe and Mail story that ran this week over whether families should hire a nanny, or even multiple nannies, to watch their kids.
With two young children and demanding careers that frequently take us out of town, my husband and I have often considered hiring full-time help.
We fantasize about walking into a clean house at the end of a long day and greeting content children that have been bathed and fed. Instead, we send our daughters to daycare and they come home whiny, dirty and hungry.
Many of my friends employ nannies and are willing to sacrifice other luxuries in life - a bigger home, a nicer car - to enjoy the convenience that a nanny affords.
"I only get three weeks of vacation and can't control my schedule," says one working mom I know. "I don't have to take time off work every time the kids are sick or there's a PA day."
"It's a classic division of labour," her husband agrees. "It keeps the family harmony and keeps the machine running."
Their nanny lives in a well-appointed room in their finished basement and is in charge of cooking, cleaning and watching the couple's two children, aged five and nine, after school.
When we had dinner at their house one evening last year, the home was pristine, without a paper or toy out of place, and the food was delicious. Her children were tidy and well-behaved at the table. My husband and I were awed.
Still, neither of us grew up with a nanny and we value our privacy. We expect it would be difficult to adjust to having a non-family member live with us.
When we investigated the cost of a "live-out" nanny, we found that it would be far greater than having a nanny live with us.
According to Nanny Questions, a website created by Canadian parents for parents, you can expect to pay a live-in nanny a net salary between $1,000 and $1,200 per month, based on a 40-hour work week. This is based on guidelines established by Canada's live-in caregiver program. The net salary is calculated after deductions for room and board, income tax, EI and CPP. (Check out this Canada Revenue Agency website for a calculator that allows you to back in to a net salary after taxes.)
There is no set wage for a live-out nanny, as they don't fall under the live-in caregiver program. While wages are open to negotiation, the net salary is typically between $400 and $500 per week.
Even after claiming child care deductions of up to $7,000 per child, a lot of after-tax income needs to be generated for a live-out nanny's salary.
My husband and I are reluctant to spend more than we are already shelling out for daycare. While we could use an extra hand in our home, we can't get past the extra cost.
For a friend who has a live-out nanny for her three-year-old daughter, the decision was easy.
"It would be cheaper to have her in daycare," she says, "but it's an issue of convenience. We come home and our daughter is bathed and fed. It's a luxury."