There are different childcare options available to you to accommodate your lifestyle and budget. When choosing which type of childcare is best for you, you will have to look at the advantages and disadvantages.
The main ones are:
A nanny comes into your home to look after your children, some live in.
- The nanny only looks after your children, so there is a smaller adult to child ratio.
- Your child is cared for in their own environment, which should be less unsettling for them.
- A nanny will still care for your child when they are ill, so you do not have to take days off work.
- A nanny is expensive, especially if you only have one child (although you could nanny share with a friend). You are responsible for paying tax and national insurance for your nanny.
- Your child won't have the same social interaction that they would get at a nursery.
A child minder cares for children in their own home. They will drop off and collect children at school and nursery.
- Child minders are a less expensive childcare alternative.
- Your child will get to play with other children, in the child minders care.
- More flexible hours than a nursery.
- A homely atmosphere, more relaxing than in a nursery
- Children will have to go on the school runs.
- If your child is ill you will probably have to take a day off work.
A nursery is normally suitable from 6 weeks to school age
- Your child will meet and mix with lots of different children.
- Nursery Staff will be qualified and experienced.
- Nursery Care will be structured to your child's developmental and educational needs.
- Nursery can be daunting to a shy child.
- Set opening hours, not flexible.
- Long waiting lists.
- If your child is ill they will not be able to go.
Your grandparents or another relative may offer to care for your childPros:
- They will have a close relationship with the child.
- Child will feel more comfortable in their care and a homely environment.
- They will probably provide care at little or no cost.
- One to one care and attention with someone you trust completely.
- You may find it difficult to raise objections as to their childcare methods.
- Childcare advise was different when they raised their children and they may not be willing to change their ways.
- You can't ask the grandparents to babysit for an evening out, when they've been looking after your children all day!
- Your child may not meet new children.
- Ask other parents for recommendations.
- Turn up unannounced at a nursery if possible.
- Maybe other parents who use a prospective child minder would be prepared to talk to you (you can ask).
- Discuss ground rules such as healthy eating beforehand.
- When employing a nanny use a reputable agency and always check references provided.
- For help finding childcare in your area search the Child Care Link >> website.
With all forms of childcare you will find that your child will need time to adjust. There may be lots of tears along the way (mostly yours but a few from your child too!).
Here are some ideas to help them (and you) settle:
- Have at least one session where you stay with your child at nursery or the child minders. With a nanny; spend time with your child and the nanny while they get to know each other.
- If your child is old enough to understand; talk to them about what is going to happen, explaining that you will come back for them.
- Read books together such as; “Maisy goes to Playschool” by Lucy Cousins, “My First Day at Nursery” by Becky Edwards, and “My New Playschool” by Marie Birkenshaw.
- Or make up your own stories about your child going to nursery or the childminders, or having a great time with the nanny or granny. You could even put them down on paper (maybe with photos of their new carers).
- When you leave them be calm (when you get back to the car you can sob all you like).
- Hand them to the carer, give them a kiss and say bye. Don't be tempted to sneak off while they're distracted, it will make leaving them again harder and will be distressing for them.
- THEN WALK AWAY. Even if your child's upset. If you keep going back it will prolong their tears and won't send out a clear message that you are going. In future they may then cry as a way of keeping you there.
- Phone after about 45 minutes to see if they have settled down, chances are they will have done. Some children take a little longer to adjust than others, but give it time.
Remember its a big change so they will need lots of cuddles and reassurance at home. If your child doesn't settle after a reasonable period of time it may be time to look for alternative childcare.