Comparing the Cost of Daycare v. Nanny v. Au Pair

Comparing the Cost of Daycare v. Nanny v. Au Pair
By: Paige Goodwin, Contributor

While your child’s well-being and growth is the most important factor in choosing whether to use a daycare, nanny, or au pair a secondary factor that we all must consider is cost. We took a hard look at the cost for care in major metro areas to help you make the best financial decision for your family and provide a benchmark when comparing options.

Daycare Costs

The following prices are calculated averages based on both national chains and local centers in each city.  While some daycare centers offer discounts for the second child, many offer no more than 10%, or none at all.

City Weekly Price for Infant Care Weekly Price for Toddler (~2.5 years old) Care Combined Weekly Price for Two
Washington DC Area (including Bethesda, MD/Alexandria, VA) $425 – $575/wk $300 – $425/wk $725 – $1000/wk
New York City $425 – $700/wk $325 – $450/wk $750 – $1150/wk
Boston $400 – $625/wk $300 – $425/wk $700 – $1050/wk
Palm Beach, FL $225 – $300/wk $175 – $215/wk $400 – $515/wk
Houston, TX $290 – $305/wk $200 – $280/wk $490 – $585/wk
Chicago, IL $350 – $525/wk $225 – $350/wk $575 – $875/wk

Au Pair Costs

 Au pairs require not only food and room/board, but also car insurance and access to a car )or one of their own). Without factoring in those funds as they can vary greatly depending on the family, au pairs through programs require a $425 match fee, an annual program fee of about $8675 and a minimum stipend of generally $9996 per year, worked out in equal weekly payments.  For the average au pair, the costs are about $390 plus room, board and insurance.

Nanny Costs

When it comes to paying a nanny, there is not a set cost like there is for Au Pairs or local daycare centers. Many nannies accept a certain pay range, which largely depends on not only the standard cost of living in your area, but also your family’s needs as well as the experience of the caregiver.

First and foremost, nannies who hold education degrees or have extensive training courses are going to charge more than young nannies who may still be in school.

If you have a child with special needs or want your nanny to cook meals from scratch for your kids every day, expect to pay more than the baseline price as well.  Duties such as laundry for the children or watching pets will also cause your rates to go up.

Not included in these rates are compensation for gas/mileage if you have your nanny take your child places, which is considered standard.

 City  25 hours per week  35 hours per week 40 hours per week
Washington DC Area (including Bethesda, MD/Alexandria, VA) $312.50 – $400/wk for one child

$350 – $450/wk for 2 children

$437.50 – $560/wk for one child

$490 – $630/wk for 2 children

$500 – $640/wk for one child

$560 – $720/wk for 2 children

New York City 


$325 – $425/wk for one child

$362.50 – $462.50 for 2 children

$455 – $595/wk for one child

$507.50 – $647.50 for 2 children

$520 – $680/wk for one child

$580 – $740/wk for 2 children



$325 – $425/wk for one child

$362.50 – $475 for 2 children

$455 – $595/wk for one child

$507.50 – $665 for 2 children

$520 – $680/wk for one child

$580 – $760/wk for 2 children

Palm Beach, FL


$300 – $387.50/wk for one child

$325 – $412.50 for 2 children

$420 – $542.50/wk for one child

$455 – $577.50 for 2 children

$480 – $620/wk for one child

$520 – $660 for 2 children

Houston, TX


$287 – $375/wk for one child

$312.50 – $412.50 for 2 children

$402.50 – $525/wk for one child

$437.50 – $577.50 for 2 children

$460 – $600/wk for one child

$500 – $660 for 2 children

Chicago, IL


$287 – $375/wk for one child

$312.50 – $412.50 for 2 children

$402.50 – $525/wk for one child

$437.50 – $577.50 for 2 children

$460 – $600/wk for one child

$500 – $660 for 2 children

Easy School-Safe Treats and Activities for Your Tots Classroom

Easy School-Safe Treats and Activities for Your Tots Classroom
By Paige Goodwin, Contributor

When I was young, if you had a birthday during the school year, your mom stayed up the night before baking the exact number of cupcakes for your classmates so you could hand them out with sticky fingers at lunch. It was glorious, getting to be the center of attention while handing out haphazardly iced desserts, bragging about how you made them by hand, all by yourself, the night before.

Birthdays are still celebrated in school, but with many schools and preschools cutting down on what foods can be brought in (if at all), it isn’t as easy as baking a few dozen cupcakes anymore, but certainly no more time-consuming.

Food Snacks

If you child eats lunch in a cafeteria, chances are they can only hand out pre-packaged snacks that are nut-free (that also includes being made in a nut-free facility). Some schools do not allow any food sharing in cafeterias to protect students who cannot read food labels, so if the teacher hasn’t give you information on how to distribute treats on birthdays, get in touch ahead of time to see if they can help pass out snacks before the students go to lunch.

Here are some safe treats that don’t require a trip to a specialty grocery store:

• Single Serve packages of Rice Krispie Treats rice-krispie
Pop Chips — these are actually friendly for most
allergy sufferers as they are vegan and gluten-free. You can find single-serve packages at most Wegman’s stores and Safeway, but go on to the Pop Chips website to check for nearby locations to you.
• Plain Hershey’s Kisses — make sure to not get kissesany specialty flavors, as Hershey’s does can’t guarantee nut-free manufacturing for those. Hershey’s Kisses are made with milk, milk chocolate cane sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, lecithin and natural flavors. The Hershey’s website also includes a number you can call regarding the allergen information for each of their products.
Wonka brand candies
Starburst, Skittles, Fruit Roll-Ups, and Sour Patch Kids

There are also brands dedicated to making snacks and desserts that are nut-free:

Treasure Mills has mini cupcakes, brownies and cookietreasure-mill bars. Their website lists the ingredients for each product, and has a store locator to help you find them in your area.
Skeeter Nut Free sells packages of different types of cookies such as shortbread, double chocolate and chocolate chip. Click “Learn More” on each product to get a full ingredients list.

When in doubt, check the labels. Your child’s teacher will too, so check ahead to see if you need to bring in treats earlier for approval.

Class Activities

If your child’s class has a lot of students with diverse food allergies, or you child’s school does not allow food snacks to be shared, there are still quite a few inexpensive and fun things your child can share with the class. Small activities may also be a fun addition to a snack you bring in as well. Don’t be surprised if other parents borrow your ideas for other birthdays in class!

• Even if your child doesn’t bring in food, you canbday-express still make lunch festive by sending in themed plates, napkins, cups, or even brightly colored bendy straws. Try Birthday Express for a huge assortment of themes.
• If your child is in preschool or kindergarten where there
is a daily or weekly story, see if your child’s teacher would be okay with your child’s favorite story being read in honor of their birthday. If possible, volunteer to do it — the teacher will appreciate a short break, and you can embellish the story with funny voices to help make it a new class favorite.
• Older children may enjoy helping make a themed word search or coloring page about
them for the class. Try Really Color to turn a photo into a crayolacoloring page, or Crayola for pre-made coloring pages. Discovery Education has a free word search maker for your older child, which will generate a puzzle after you input the words their classmates must find! Have your child hand them to the teacher at the beginning of the day — there is always down-time in a school day, and the teacher will enjoy having the activities to hand out when there is time to spare.
• While many teachers give out special pencils to birthday children, you can make fun personalized pencils through Oriental Trading. Your child can put their name, or evenmartha-stewart a funny saying on the pencils so the whole class has a fun, matching pencil. The teacher will appreciate not having to find students an extra pencil, too!
• If your child’s class is a little too young for pencils, try giving old crayons new life by making each child a custom crayon using these instructions on Martha Stewart’s website. Your child can hand out rainbow crayons, or whatever color combinations they like best!

Please remember that with class activities, unless you are handing something small out, to talk with the teacher ahead of time to make sure whatever you plan doesn’t interrupt their schedule, and so that everything goes smoothly for your child’s special day.

The Best Teacher Gifts... Straight from a Teacher!

The BEST Teacher Gifts… Straight from a Teacher!

By: Wendy Muldawer

With the end of the school year quickly approaching, many parents seem to be searching for ways to show their appreciation to their child’s teacher (or teachers). While a homemade treat or a store-bought item is a very thoughtful and welcome gesture, many educators, myself included, will tell you that the most memorable and meaningful “gifts” are the sentiments expressed in hand-written notes and cards.

I still have the “thank you” notes I received as a student teacher back in 2005. There’s the sheet of green construction paper from Hannah, a 2nd grader, who wrote: Dear Msr. Muldawer, Thank you for being a great theacher and the endearing note from Samuel that reads: I will alwayse remember you as my teacher. You will alwayse be in my heart. I do recall receiving a very generous gift certificate to a local restaurant that year, as well as a hanging plant and even some kitchenware from a parent who knew I liked to cook, but nothing can take the place of the shoe box full of colorful drawings and glitter-covered cards that I reach for every now and then — especially when I need a reminder as to why I became a teacher in the first place!

Hand Drawing







Portrait of a Teacher
By Jenny (2005)

If you or your child would like to compose a note to a special teacher, here are some “sentence starters” to you help you out.

  • Thanks so much for a great year. Kyle loves school and has grown & learned so much. Thanks for playing a huge part in that.
  • Thank you for your kindness and support this past year…
  • Hannah was very fortunate to have had you as his teacher this year…
  • Thank you for making this school year memorable for Evan…

It’s always nice to mention something specific as well. If your child is writing the note, he or she might add something along the lines of:

  • Thank you for helping me with …
  • I’ve had fun learning _____ from you…
  • “I always looked forward to coming to your class…

One of the most gratifying messages I ever received from a student was, “I really used to hate writing, but after being in your class I’ve learned to love it.”

Humorous messages (whether intended to be funny or not) go over well with most educators — especially at the end of the year. Encourage your child to be honest (but not hurtful…teachers have feelings, too!) as these middle school students did:

  • I hope you have a great summer and a nice break from stinky children!
  • You are the bestess teacher ever! P.S. As an English teacher, “bestess.”
  • You teach really well and keep your patience when we’re misbehaving.

And my all-time favorite…

  • I liked you more as the year went on.

Gift Ideas
If you’d like to include a gift with that heartfelt note, there are a number of unique items that can be purchased online.

Hand-crafted by KilloughCreations, theseOutta Pencils 100% cotton t-shirts are bound to bring a smile to the face of any educator with a sense of humor. Choose from STRAIGHT OUTTA PENCILS or STRAIGHT OUTTA LESSON PLANS.
Price: $21.95 each.
Vendor: KilloughCreations Etsy Store


  • Male math, science and history teachersMath Formula (as well as sports fans) might enjoy a subject-specific tie from one of these two companies: UncommonGoods sells Math Formula and Declaration of Independence ties ($49 each) as well as a Baseball Signature necktie ($28).
    Price: $28 – $49
    Vendor: UncommonGoods
  • has a PeriodicP Table Table tie, several sports-themed ties and a few general “ teacher” designs from which to choose.
    Price: $14.95

Mugs of Knowledge
While most of the “My Favorite Teacher”Mug O Knowledge coffee cups get relegated to the staff lounge, these subject-specific Mugs of Knowledge are perfect for those who teach art, astronomy, biology, literature, chemistry, physics, math or computer science. Microwave and dishwasher safe, too!
Price: $9.95 each
Vendor: Stash Tea

Grammar Pencil Set
English teachers will certainly enjoy Pencilsthese pencils embossed with commonly confused words such as THERE, THEIR & THEY’RE; YOUR & YOU’RE; TO, TWO & TOO; WHERE, WERE & WE’RE; and WHO, THAT & WHICH.
Price: Set of 5 pencils — $9.71
Vendor: NewtonAndTheApple- Etsy Store

Scientific Stationery
This handmade spiral notebook featuresSpiral Notebook a map of the constellations on the cover and comes with a matching pencil imprinted with the message “We are all made of star stuff.”
Price: 18.67
Vendor: NewtonAndTheApple- Etsy Store

“Adult” Beverage Gift Tags
If you feel comfortable buying Tagalcohol for your son or daughter’s teacher, top it off with a gift tag that reads “Our child may be the reason you drink so enjoy this bottle on us.”
Price: $10.95 (10-pack)
Vendor: Zazzle

“Good Day – Bad Day – Do NOT Ask” Day Wine Glass
If you’re not sure whether your child’sGlass teacher prefers Cabernet or Pinot Grigio, skip the wine and simply send the glass. This stemless, plastic wine glass is marked with three different pouring levels (Good Day, Bad Day, Do NOT Ask) and holds a total of 16 oz.
Price: $15.49
Vendor: Lone Star Kitchenwares

Savvy Infusion Water Bottle
Most teachers rely on refillable waterWater bottle bottles to stay hydrated throughout the day. This 24 oz. container by Savvy is designed for adding fruit and herbs to create naturally flavored water, tea or juice.
Price: $19.95
Vendor: Amazon

Travel Coffee Cups
The stainless steel travel mugs made Contigoby Contigo are easy to clean and are generally leak-free.
Price: Anywhere from $12.99 to $24.99 for a 20 oz. (Contigo brand) Stainless steel 20 oz. travel mug Range from $12.99 to $24.99
Vendor: Available at Target and online via Amazon

Desk Accessories/ School “Office” Supplies
Teachers appreciate anything that will brighten up their work space or help them organize the piles of papers that land on their desk each day.

  • Staples has a nice selection of decorative file folders, colorful Post-It Notes and Post-It Note holders.
  • Paper Source sells personalized stationery, journals and notepads as well as “I’m Outta Here” luggage tags ($12.95 each)
  • The Container Store carries Umbra paper clips shaped like eye glasses ($6.99 per pack)
  • Top Notch Teacher Products (sold on Amazon) offers a 6-pack of “Things to Do” Binder Clips each features a different message such as “To Be Graded,” “Send Home,” and “To Be Filed.”

Gift Cards
While all educators welcome gift cards, the following retailers were cited among favorites in an informal poll of my colleagues:

  • Coffee Shops: Starbucks; Dunkin Donuts
  • Office Supply Stores: Staples; Office Depot
  • Craft Stores: Michael’s; A.C. Moore
  • Amazon
  • Home Depot/Lowes
  • Local restaurants
  • Smoothie or Frozen Yogurt Shops (located near the school)

In sum, it’s truly the thought that counts when it comes to the end-of-the-year teacher “gifts.” Believe it or not, some of us never really know if or how we’ve reached the students that grace our classrooms day in and day out. No matter how you choose to express it, acknowledging that we somehow made a tiny difference in your child’s life this year is the most priceless gift of all.

Wendy Muldawer is a middle school English teacher, tutor (writing, reading & organizational skills) and co-author of Better Than Peanut Butter & Jelly: Meatless Meals Your Kids Will Love!: Which you can find by clicking here