Finding suitable childcare is one of the biggest problems faced by busy working parents. Staying at home is the obvious solution, but if you can’t afford to take a career break – or you don’t want to – you need to find the right childcare arrangement to suit your child and your budget. So what are your options?
Friends and Family
Childcare is easy if the grandparents are able to step up to the plate and help you out. A lot of grandparents are happy to do their share when the children are young, but the success of the arrangement does depend on how fit and well your parents are and how willing they are to sacrifice their free time to take care of little ones. It is important that everyone is happy with the arrangement, so don’t abuse their generosity.
Day Care or Crèche
A day care centre or workplace crèche can work very well if you want your child to enjoy a lot of social time with other children. Day care centres and crèches can cater for children aged 6 months upwards. Children can be dropped off first thing in the morning and collected in the evening. However, you can’t leave your child out of hours, so if your job involves shift work or long hours, this type of childcare might not be suitable.
Childminders look after children during normal working hours but can often be more flexible if required. Parents are expected to drop their child off at the childminder’s home. It is a very good arrangement for younger children as a childminder’s house is like a home from home. Children get more one-on-one care at a childminders, which is perfect for babies and toddlers.
Nannies look after your child at home. Nannies will sometimes stay with the same family for several years and children can become very close to their nanny. A nanny isn’t the cheapest childcare option, but if you want your children to enjoy a high level of care at home, a nanny is a good choice.
An au pair is a budget childcare option. How it works is simple: you employ a young person from an au pair agency such as Aufini to come and live in your home for up to 12 months. An au pair is expected to take on the childcare and some of the household chores in return for a small wage plus free bed and board. If you want a more flexible childcare arrangement, an au pair will probably work very well for you, but if your child is aged 2 or under, an au pair is not the best choice.
Other Childcare Solutions
If none of the options above work for you, you could organise a childcare sharing arrangement with other parents or see if your partner is willing to become a stay at home parent while you work full-time.
Always give yourself plenty of time to make suitable childcare arrangements before returning to work. After all, working is stressful enough without worrying about whether your child is being looked after properly.