28 Aug

Chart on a Tuesday – a venn diagram on finding childcare

First of all, one thing I miss about work – unlimited Sharpies.  I can deal without a printer – am happy to handdraw.  BUT where is a Sharpie when you need one, hey?

So yes.  Here’s a venn diagram.  I wouldn’t be a Planner if I didn’t share the odd venn diagram.  This one is on finding childcare.  Something that has dominated my days (and nights) for the last month or so.  It’s a big thing and you need to get it right in order for you to be happy to go back to work.  This chart shows the balance of things you need to find in your chosen childcare.

An obvious one, but to make what will already be hectic mornings and evenings slightly less hectic is to find childcare that is close’ish to your house and also (where appropriate) to a station.  You need to be able to drop your child there on the way to work or be able to nip there and back in the car in 10 mins or so.

The most important one in my opinion.  In our case, Nancy will spend 4 days in childcare, so I feel she needs to be spending it with someone who will do more than just ‘go through the motions’ with her (I’ve seen a lot of simply going through the motions going on).  She needs to be in a stimulating environment, to be actively nurtured and developed and to be in a place where she feels safe and have all her needs attended to.  What was also important to me was that there was lots of other kids around for Nancy to socialise with and learn from. 

This is also very important.  I realised quite quickly that Nancy and I both needed to ‘click’ with whoever was going to be looking after her.  I spoke a lot to the people I visited to find out why they do what they do, what their views are on certain things, how they handle different situations and so on.  I also listened to see how interested they are in us and Nancy in particular.  Some barely even spoke to Nancy, let alone gave her a cuddle!  You want to believe that they’ve chosen this career because they genuinely love babies – that they love to see them develop and that you are in agreement on how children should be cared for.  You should also feel comfortable around them and talking to them and ideally feel like you could become friends.

To follow on from this, now that Nancy is moving around A LOT, I was determined to find somewhere with lots of space, stimulus and plenty of opportunities to play.  I felt that lots of childminders in particular had quite small houses considering how many kids they were looking after.  Many would just bring a few toys into the living room and let them get on with it.  The telly would often be put on.  The childminder I’ve now found has a gorgeous big playroom, packed with toys.  She does all sorts of activities with them including arts and crafts, picnics in the woods, games in the garden and trips to Kew Gardens.  Some childminders put the kids to sleep on the sofa or in buggies and sometimes they’d have travel cots.  I wanted to make sure Nancy had a separate place to sleep and that she’d at least have a travel cot to sleep in.

Now the most important thing is to find the right person, the right environment and to feel happy that your child will receive the best possible care.  But cost does have to come into it.  The ideal scenario is to find someone lovely who makes you feel sure that your child will be happy – this will mean you can go to work without a worry.  But if the cost of that options means you’ll be up all night worrying about cash, then that is not good at all. I came to a realisation that I could either afford an ok’ish Nanny, or a really great childminder.  You want to find the best care that your budget allows – finding a balance between this and all of the above.

Finding childcare is like buying a house.  You’ll look at a lot of options that are just wrong, wrong, wrong.  You’ll start to lose hope and think ‘perhaps I’m being unrealistic.  Maybe what I want just isn’t out there’, and then finally, you’ll find that perfect person / nursery, whatever.  And frustratingly it’s likely to happen at the very last minute.

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