08 Mar What are the childcare options available to working parents?
Choosing the right childcare options to suit your family can sometimes seem like a difficult decision. The first thing you need to consider when looking at childcare is what you’d be most comfortable with.
Take into account whether your working hours vary, whether flexibility is important, what you can afford, the age of your child etc.
Here’s a list of childcare options to help you with your search:
- Day nursery
A day nursery is suitable for children from birth until five years of age. However, not all nurseries have the facilities to care for newborns. Children in nurseries are usually grouped by age and staff are trained to create a warm, safe and stimulating environment. Most often a keyworker is assigned who is responsible for keeping you updated on your child’s progress.
Some day nurseries operate from 7am to 7pm to accommodate parents who work long hours and have a long commute. Most nurseries are opened all year around, including bank holidays and Christmas.
- Children’s centre
Children’s centres are usually open from 8 am to 6 pm all year round. They offer a range of services to support children and their families. Sometimes these centres have nurseries or drop-in sessions that offer a range of play and learning activities like messy play, arts and crafts, music, reading, outdoor play etc.
The costs to keep your child at a children’s centre might be subsidised by your local council. You should contact your local Family Information Service for details of children’s centres in your area and check if you qualify for financial support.
A childminder is someone who works independently and cares for your child in her own home. A lot of childminders are also parents themselves and are likely to care for up to six children at a time, including their own. If they care for three children younger than five years, only one should be under 12 months old so that each child gets plenty of attention and care.
Most childminders work on weekdays from 8am to 6pm but some might opt to work longer hours or even work on weekends. Make sure that the childminder is registered with the appropriate authority and that they have completed a pre-registration course covering topics like child nutrition, food hygiene and health and safety.
A nanny will care for your child in your own home. Depending on the age of your child, a nanny could be responsible for the following:
– Planning activities
– Feeding, bathing and dressing your child
– Preparing meals
– Washing and ironing clothes
A nanny provides more holistic care that aids the physical, emotional and social development of your child. This might include swimming lessons, going to playgroups, reading to your child and more.
This is a role that carries a lot of responsibility, so make sure you get a nanny whom you trust and who your child is comfortable with.
- Au pair
An au pair is usually a young person from overseas who has come to the UK to learn English. They would stay in your home as part of your family, help with light housework and look after your child when needed. You will need to pay them a small fee and provide meals and a bedroom.
Au pairs are not usually trained in childcare, though some might have previous babysitting experience. It is advisable that you get an au pair if your child is going to pre-school or school.
- Taking the help of a relative
A lot of working parents make informal arrangements with grandparents or other relatives to help look after their children. This also means that your child will be looked after by someone they know well in a familiar environment.
This usually works if you have a good relationship with the relative and if they are willing to help. Just set some ground rules so that you are comfortable with the way your child is looked after.
Parenting can be pretty tough sometimes, so it is understandable that you would need help, especially if you are working parents. Choose the childcare option that works best for you.