When it comes to returning to work after maternity leave, you are awash with so many emotions: guilt that you have to leave your little one; anxiety that you are doing the right thing returning to work and apprehension that you may have completely forgotten how to even do your job. The last thing you need is the added worry of how to find the perfect childcare on top of all of this.
I would always recommend trying to sort out childcare as early on as you possibly can, simply because places on nurseries fill up fast and once it’s sorted you don’t need to worry about it on those weeks leading up to your return to work which will be filled with worry and dread. (At least they were for me anyway!)
Nursery or childminder?
Picking a childcare provider is a very personal choice, each option comes with its own merits and downfalls. Throughout pregnancy and babyhood I had my mind set on a nursery local to us, but at the last minute after having a conversation with a work colleague I decided on a childminder and I’ve found that it’s been a great decision for us.
How to find the right person?
There are thousands of childminders out there and I needed to make sure I was picking the right person to look after my son for thirty five hours a week. One of the things that put me off about a childminder initially was that I thought anybody could register and there would not be the structure of learning and development like there would be in a nursery; but I soon found out I was wrong after reading that childminders are inspected by Oftsted just like schools and nurseries.
Childminders aren’t just registered with Ofsted though, they also undergo various background checks including CRB checks so people with anything dodgy in their pasts can’t be left to look after children.This also includes all the adults living in the home too. This gave me huge peace of mind.
I wanted Dexter to be in a homely environment as opposed to a structured setting and I envisaged him being welcomed into someone’s home and being treated like part of their extended family. I was put off by seeing young girls in my local area near to the nursery I had initially thought of putting Dexter in outside smoking, and I didn’t like the idea of having to deal with multiple people from one day to the next.
Google is my best friend and of course it was Google I turned to when I decided to look in the local area for a childminder. This is when I stumbled upon our childminder who was listed on the first page of Google (Thank you SEO!) I read with interest that she had recently been visited by Ofsted and been declared Outstanding in all areas. I actually wept as I read the report which stated “The quality of teaching provided by the childminder and her assistant is inspirational and worthy of dissemination. They have an excellent knowledge of child development and offer great learning opportunities that are fun and capture children’s interests.”
The next worry I had was that this lady would not have any space, but after a few quick emails we arranged a visit and some settling in dates. We haven’t looked back since.
The right decision?
Dexter has been with his current childminder six months now and he has loved every single day he has spent there. Each week there is a theme and every morning is spent out and about in playgroups, in the woods or at the beach. The afternoons are made up with crafty activities and baking and there’s still enough time for three healthy and nutritious meals, snacks and a mid afternoon nap. I suppose the biggest downside to having a childminder instead of nursery is that if our childcare provider is sick, we have to find alternative childcare, which wouldn’t happen in a nursery. However, this hasn’t been an issue as of yet and we’ve been lucky that our holidays have coincided due to our term time only contract.
If you’re looking for childcare in the near future, it’s so important to weigh up all the pros and cons and come to a decision that works for you and your family. Just like children themselves, every situation and every family is different and what works for us might not necessarily work for you. Most of all, best of luck in your return to work and finding the right childcare provider for you.