Take up childminder place when baby's six months, or stay off for the year and risk losing it? Also, separation anxiety - when's best to time return to work?

(4 Posts)
SolitaireConfinement Mon 01-Jun-15 12:27:14

DD is almost three months old. Before she was born, we found a childminder we liked, who has a space available from September (when DD will be six months old). I was planning to go back to work when SMP stops, in November when she's eight months old. The childminder has said she's happy for us to pay half-price from September until taking up the place a month or two later.

The childminder said a few weeks ago that she'll need a commitment from us by the end of this month (we've just expressed interest until now - nothing formal) - and I've felt miserable since. sad I knew I'd need to go back, but when I had my son years ago, I was able to stay at home until he started school, so didn't fully appreciate how much of a wrench this would feel with DD. I hate it that, when she's barely three months old, I'm planning our time apart. sad

Anyway, I've revisited my finances, and I think I can afford to stay off for the full year by dipping into savings. I could then use up annual leave at the end, and then go back when DD is a year old. The thought of this makes me feel a lot better - that I'd have longer with her, more time to encourage her to settle for a nap without me rocking/feeding her, perhaps to wean her off the breast in the day, to establish eating solids, etc. But I don't think the childminder will hold her place until then (or at least, we'd have to pay for it in full during the months beforehand). And also, would DD adjust better at six months to the separation, pre-separation anxiety, or might she be out of the woods by 12 months anyway?

The other thing is that having worked 30 hours a week beforehand, I'd like to ask to return on three days equivalent. Would it be better to work four shorter days and pick DD up after her afternoon nap (more separations in the morning though), or to work three full days and have four solid days with DD (long days for DD)?

I'm meeting my boss later this week to informally discuss my return. I'm reluctant to commit to anything yet in terms of timings, but with the childminder wanting us to sign paperwork later this month, I wonder if I don't have any choice other than to map out hours this early on; I'll need work to agree hours before telling the childminder what days/hours I'd like, won't I? Argh.

Grateful for any advice. Just feeling wobbly about the whole thing. Oh to be able to be with DD until she's three and then head back! <wishful thinking> Thanks.

Str1p3yl3af Wed 03-Jun-15 21:37:56

Didn't want to leave this unanswered.

I think it's got advantages and disadvantages either way tbh. So by that I mean there isn't one right answer.

I think the nap thing is a bit of a red herring. My second didn't really nap reliably hmm whereas my first you could set a watch to.

I think if you're feeling 'held to randsom' by the cm then just try and trust that there will be other quality people out there. She can't be the only one can she?

I went back to work at different times with mine, and separation anxiety just popped up at different times. It wasn't bad, but totally unavoidable really.

Not sure I've answered that have I? grin

wallaceorgromit Wed 03-Jun-15 23:12:28

I don't have any experience of this yet, but I have heard that babies/toddlers tend to adjust to naps in childcare. So for example, they might still want you to rock them to sleep at home, but be able to self-settle at the childminders. Also, my 9mo DS doesn't self-settle yet, so there is no guarantee that waiting a year will solve this problem!

Similarly, I would say weaning will happen fine in childcare as long as you tell them what you want. In fact, your DD may have access to different types of foods than at home, which can only be a good thing. At 8 months, she might be on 3 meals a day and be able to get by without milk while you are at work.

Separation anxiety can hit between 6 and 18 months, but usually peaks at 9 months and is gone around 12 months or a bit later. My 9mo currently has separation anxiety, but even at 6 months he didn't like being held by strangers.

I guess what I'm saying is there is no way to control everything. There may be advantages and disadvantages to the different timings, but every baby is different so you can't predict what they will be with certainty. Perhaps just concentrate on what you want to do instead. If you want to take the whole year off, go for it.

I am heading back to work in a couple of months and also dreading it so you have my sympathies.

PhoebeMcPeePee Wed 03-Jun-15 23:18:41

As a working mum I'd say 3 long days is preferably to 4 short & now I'm a childminder I'd say don't worry about DC napping it's amazing how they soon settle into a routine. You may also find it harder to find a childminder willing to take on a little one for shorter days as most (me included) will not want to give up a space for a half day.

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