Childcare can be a complex area for new parents.
How do you make a decision that will work for your situation now and also work for you in the future as the world changes and your needs and those of your child also change?
Unfortunately, most formal childcare in the UK was designed to solve the problem that parents had 10 or 20 years ago - where fewer mums went back to work, and the work that both parents did tended to be consistent and took place at an office or other workplace.
Today many more two-parent families are both at work, but that work tends to be much more flexible - with parents working at home, at least one or two days a week, and where the ability to do a school run or school pick up once or twice a week is accommodated.
In addition, lots of mums are now starting businesses during maternity leave and need flexible childcare while they get work done. I used to take my youngest two to a co-working once a month. It was held in a soft play and childminders would come in and look after the children while I worked. It was a fab short term solution and the kids made friends.
For these reasons, parents are more likely to be looking for flexible childcare that can be adjusted on a weekly basis, whilst also catering for daytime and evening requirements from a single source.
There are so many childcare options, from grandparents, nannies, au pairs and childminders, to private or funded nurseries and after school clubs.
So how do you pick one or a mixture of a few of them?
When Rebecca and Hamish were little my mum helped us with childcare when I went back to work. But by the time Sebastian came along, I had started Yummikeys and was able to work from home around him & our older 2. He now goes to a local playgroup which he absolutely adores.
How to pick the right options for you? Get a pen and paper and write out. 👇
- The childcare solutions you and your child want right now.
- Look a year and two years into the future and will your requirements change?
- What will an average working week look like for you?
- What environment does your child like (more one to one childminder, or a nursery environment).
And then consider the day to day logistics:
- Always allow more time for drop off and pick up (it can take a while to get them ready and out the door)
- Snacks are essential at every collection and it's a great time for them to eat healthier snacks.
- Nighttime routine becomes essential so they are not overtired and struggle to get up in the morning.
And finally; the emotions for children and childcare are huge! Whilst they enjoy being away from you and with their friends; it is normal for them to cry and not want to leave you (and be fine 5 minutes later). This can be so hard for both parent and child so settling in time is essential for both of you.
Distraction-free connection time before the childcare drops off usually made this easier for us as they had their cuddles and connection time before the rush out the door.
ps - to all the mums of children that aren't good sleepers and worried about being up all night (often breastfeeding and co-sleeping), I see you. Nothing I say can make it any easier but I promise you it does get better.