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04 Jul 2022

Me & You with Jennifer Griffiths: Back to work . . . other options?

Me & You with Jennifer Griffiths:

Last week, I wrote about a mum who was going back to work, we had been chatting about choosing a nursery place and I shared some of the ‘things to look for ideas’ with you.

But, although nursery childcare may be the first thing you think of, it’s not the only option about, it’s not the only great option out there either.  So, a few more ideas this week…. 


Childminder

Over the years I’ve met some wonderful childminders, dedicated, caring, loving professionals who can offer your child ‘home from home’ care. But, be warned, the best childminders very often have a waiting list, so do find your one early - don’t wait till a month or two before you need them!

They’ll offer a warm, welcoming environment within their home and will play, do craft, baking, reading, singing - everything you would do and more.

They’ll even help your little one with their pre-school skills such as numbers, colours, using scissors etc. Childminders are limited to how many children they can care for in each age group, do have to be registered, are inspected and, of course, will have to have ‘police clearance’ to say they are fit to look after your child etc.

Often, they are qualified in childcare, will have done first aid, child protection and other similar courses and often have lots of experience with various ages of babies and children.

Another key benefit is they’ll also often be able to collect an older sibling from school too if this is something that may help you.

Also, remember when you do meet your potential childminder to have a good look round the house and garden, ask about pets - does she have any?

Does this matter to you? But, also talk about ‘what happens if you are late,’ who will provide the nappies, what happens if your child is unwell, if your child has special dietary requirements who is responsible for purchasing these? Ask, too, about different places she may take the children to and, of course, does she look after other children and how many? 

Nanny

I worked as a nanny for a long time and absolutely loved the job. A nanny offers care and education to your little one in your home. They can live in or live out (I do recommend live out - after all, who wants to live at work and who wants to know what their employee’s (or employer's bad habit are)

This means you can get ready for work either before she (or he) arrives or after. You can then wave goodbye and know your little one is ready for a day of learning and play on a ‘one-to-one’ just like he or she would be with you.

Most nannies do hold a formal, usually at least a Level 3 childcare qualification (and I would definitely recommend this) and can offer all their knowledge and experience just to you and your little one.

If they are qualified, this means they will have been ‘police cleared’ to work with children - do ask to see a copy of this - you can even get a fresh one (and I would recommend this, too) if you decide to offer her (or him) the job.

Another benefit of having a nanny is that you can actually tell her what activities you would like her to take your child to - maybe swimming, music classes etc.

My employer also gave me a ‘money pot’ and I would use this to buy paint, ingredients to make play dough, pay for parent and toddler etc or even save it for a week or two to take the children on outings such as to the zoo or aquarium.

Another benefit to having a nanny is she may be willing to babysit occasionally (for an extra fee, of course) and you can also negotiate hours to suit your needs. But do remember that a nanny is there to care for and educate your child and most do not want to do your washing and cleaning (other than the paint pots and tidying away toys).

A nanny is employed by you and as such you will have to consider tax, national insurance and if you need liability insurance - but if you go through an agency they will be able to offer advice about this (and lots more) and maybe send you potential interviewees, too. 

To find the right Childminder or Nanny you will have to think very carefully about, for example, how much you are prepared to pay? what will you do when they are on holiday? when do they take their holidays? will they be paid when you are on holiday? or if your child is off sick? (yes, after all, you’d have to pay a day care setting).

Think about and ask, what do you expect them to do each day, about meal times, sleep times and any needs your child has - do ask lots of questions and think carefully about exactly what you need and what’s most important to you and your child too of course. Don’t rush your decision - and please do remember the childminder or nanny has to want to work with you, too - it is a partnership!

When you think you’ve made a good match then, and only then, introduce your child and, fingers crossed, they’ll make a happy pair!

Do please remember, too, and this is so so important, to ask for and chase up references. Don’t just accept a hand written typed reference - actually talk to the the referee, maybe you could even meet for a coffee. If not have a chat on the phone and do send a photo of your childminder or nanny to be to make sure you are both talking about the same person!

So lots more to think about this week… day care nursery, childminder, nanny - what’s it to be? Maybe you could look at these options this week while you are waiting for next week's article, which will be all about asking family, asking granny and, no, it’s not as simple as saying ‘oh, my mum just does it!’ Read next week's article to find out why.

Oh, and to make you giggle, and explain why the Mary Poppins image, I use to tell the little girl I was a nanny for that I travelled to her house each day by umbrella, she loved Mary Poppins, so for her this was so true.

Have a good week and enjoy being mum at home, not mum at work just yet.

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