Whatever type of mother you are, there is a childcare option to suit you. Organising childcare can seem complicated and daunting especially when purse strings are tight. There are many different childcare options, which all come with varying costs. Amanda Coxen, childcare expert at Tinies Childcare, steers through the childcare maze by evaluating the options.
There are different choices of childcare out there, and the best solution for you will depend upon your lifestyle, income, flexibility and above all your children. Most first time mothers do not know that children are excluded from nursery when ill, that you need to start looking for a nanny three months before you need one and have little idea of the best interview questions to ask.
Another myth that most mothers believe is that they cannot possibly afford childcare, which is often not the case, as a 'nannyshare' can cost approximately the same as a childminder, which is often thought to be the most affordable childcare option.
If you are dead set on a nanny, consider whether you need live-in or live-out and if you use an agency make sure they come highly recommended. Be detailed in your interview questions (any good agency will give you a guide about what to ask), and focus on a good personality match.
Here are some pros and cons for each.
A nanny will look after your child in your own home, often the best option in terms of flexibility and one-to-one care. Can be the most expensive, but equally if you get it right, the most rewarding. Take time to find your nanny and make sure you either use an agency or do thorough checks yourself before hiring.
Top tip: you can reduce costs by sharing a nanny with a friend or neighbour or get in touch with a local family with a forum such as Nanny Share.
Good for social interaction for your child and to prepare them for school. Not so great if you need longer hours. You will need a back-up plan if your child is ill. Visit Emergency Childcare
Top tip: ask around for recommendations from friends or neighbours as Ofsted reports don't always give a true picture
A childminder looks after your child in their own home, is good value for money, and also good for social interaction. Can be flexible as well.
On the downside, if they have their own children, who gets priority of care? Always visit a number of childminders.
Top tip: ask to see an example of a daily activity sheet of what the childminder does with the children.
4. Au Pair
Good for school age children and for having as an extra pair of hands in the house, and tends to be cheap. Not recommended for younger children, and the language barrier can be a problem. Again, make sure you do thorough checks on the au pair before she arrives.
Top tip: be strict as to when they can use the communal parts of the house, so that you and your partner have some privacy.