So you’re on maternity leave, sitting with your feet up; having just gotten your head around being a Mummy to the small person who just arrived in your life, when you realise that in no time at all, you will have to go back to work. What options do you have out there for childcare? The very thought of it is making your head spin! Is a childminder better? Are relatives better? Is a nursery better?
You just relax, drink your tea and let me help you with that………
It is daunting to think that you will have to hand your baby to someone you barely know and not see him all day. All the questions going through your head make you feel sick, is he crying, has he eaten, is he loved and given hugs? These are thoughts all parents have had at some stage.
However, whatever option you choose, your child will be loved, well cared for and definitely hugged. Childminders and nursery staff are qualified, experienced, registered with Social Services which means that they are police checked and vetted. They also are obliged to attend several training courses to do with child development, child protection and areas of learning. Most importantly, there are no childminders or nursery staff out there who don’t love babies and children. So love and hugs are guaranteed.
- Part of a small group
- More individualised attention in a home setting
- Children of all ages in one setting
- All your children cared for together by the same childminder.
- Family friendly service, creating friendships that often last for years
- Flexible pick up and drop off times
- Same opportunities for learning and development as children in other childcare settings.
- Childminders go on many training courses and are inspected regularly
- Cheaper than Daycare nurseries
- Could offer evening/weekend childcare
- No back up childcare if childminder is ill or on holiday
- Babies and toddlers may spend long time in a car if childminder has to do school pickups and drop-offs
- Childminder may not have other children of your baby’s age to play with
- You will have to use annual leave or unpaid parental leave if your childminder is unavailable at short notice
- Will the childminder’s own children be given preferential treatment over yours?
- Child safety could be an issue sometimes. Someone once asked “How does it work when the childminder goes to the toilet?”.
- Some don’t do weekends and bank holidays
- You have to provide your baby’s food. So a lunch box needs made every day.
- No superior to complain to if not happy with small issues
- Structured learning and set routines which is ideal for babies
- Staff work with you to settle your child in
- Trained staff create a safe, happy and stimulating environment
- Wide variety of planned activities provided age appropriate
- Social, creative, communication, listening skills and physical development promoted
- Play and learn in a group
- Setting registered and regularly inspected by local authority
- Your child’s development and milestones are recorded and reports are made for you.
- Good knowledge of child development and you are kept informed
- If your key worker is sick, there is always someone available to take over
- All staff are trained in childcare, Paediatric 1st Aid, Child protection, Child Development ….
- You have management to complain to if not happy with something
- Healthy eating is promoted and children copy and learn from each other to eat well
- Healthy meals are provided for your baby every day.
- Able to accommodate dietary requirement
- Inspected by Environment Health Department annually
- Outdoor play is part of everyday activities
- Children interact and make friend with other children of their age
- Tax credits and Childcare Vouchers available for low income earners
- Set opening and closing times.
- Closed weekends and bank holidays
- Extra charge if late pickup
- Some Day nurseries take one to two weeks off in summer
- Alternative childcare required when child is ill – Although some think it’s good for your baby’s immune system
- Mixing with lots of children – illnesses are more likely
- Less likely to get one to one attention than with a childminder or an aupair
- Cost more than childminder
- Some don’t offer flexible hours
- Waiting list at some well established nurseries
- Your toddler may not want to come home with you at the end of the day. But don’t feel disheartened
- Cheapest childcare option
- Someone both of you know and trust
- Personalised standard of care – relative always in child’s life
- Familiar surroundings – can stay in own or relatives home
- One to one care
- Less children in the setting therefore less colds and flus
- If child is sick relatives are happy to mind than childminders or day nurseries
- Possible visits to other family members
- May be harder to establish a working relationship
- Different ideas about what’s best for your baby – may cause tensions
- Relatives are not usually trained in childcare so you will have to provide age appropriate activities
- You will need to take time off if your relative is sick or on holiday
- Relatives may have less energy
- Your child may not have other children to interact with – Not as many options for socialising
My advice would be:
- to ask around, search online and in social media.
- visit different childminders and day nurseries months in advance to make your mind up.
- You can visit twice if you want, good nurseries will not mind that.
- Write down all questions you want to ask and don’t be shy asking lots of questions.
- Look for the ones with Open Door Policy, those are the ones who do what they say they do, they don’t have to polish it up for your visit.
- Always check the time of year a childminder goes on holiday.
- Some nurseries are open all year
- Some nurseries have a waiting list and you may get disappointed if you contact them last minute.
- If you go for a nursery, here is an article about Signs of a Good Daycare Nursery to help you decide.
Remember when deciding which childcare to use, bear in mind that what you see as a disadvantage could be an advantage to someone else. It’s best to base your decision on what feels right for you and your baby.