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Childcare in greater London - how do you manage?

(27 Posts)
Childcareconundrum Tue 16-Feb-21 09:09:39

With the roll out of the vaccine, boss has been suggesting we start to plan for our return to the office. Since March last year 2 year old DC has been at home with us and just started 2 days a week at a private nursey near home.

Conundrum is really - going back to the office and putting DC in nursey 4 days a week will be around £1,400. If we move to a school based nursey (bit cheaper?) most seem to finish at 2.45pm. With commuting time I'd have to reduce my hours and spread them. I work in London so nurseries are just as expensive, if not more so than near to home. It's also really uncertain how often we will be back in the office.

I'm usually fairly practical but I can't seem to find a way which either doesn't cost the entirety of what I earn or put me back in career progression by reducing my hours. It's also really tricky to plan when there is nothing set in stone because of COVID!

How are others in Greater London managing?

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Bluemandm Tue 16-Feb-21 09:19:28

What was your plan before the pandemic started? Surely you knew childcare costs were horrific before March? This is an issue lots of women face, take a massive career hit or spend almost all your earnings of childcare but retain career and pension. It’s a rubbish choice

ShirleyPhallus Tue 16-Feb-21 09:22:17

We have taken the opportunity to negotiate more working from home days so one of us is home and able to do the pick ups

Are you able to discuss that? It would really surprise me if all offices want everyone in all the time now

OatcakeCravings Tue 16-Feb-21 09:22:46

Those are your choices, spend all of your take home pay on childcare almost or take a career hit. It helps to look at it as a 50/50 split with your partner (if you have one), so look at like it’s costing you £700.

Childcareconundrum Tue 16-Feb-21 09:24:05

Pre-pandemic I worked less hours and DC did 2 days in a subsidised nursery near work. Opportunity came up during the pandemic to take on more responsibility and do more days which I said yes to because it was a great opportunity and no nurseries were open anyway so childcare didn't really matter.

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PlugUgly1980 Tue 16-Feb-21 09:24:24

Take the short term pain of high nursery fees. It's not for long, at 3 the 30 hours kicks in and helps a bit, and then when they start school it's just wrap round care. Meanwhile your career is hopefully still progressing, your maintain your pension contributions, etc and in the longer term it becomes better financially. Covid isn't really the issue here, you must have had a view on what you'd do for childcare pre-Covid? Your employer is well within their rights to expect you to have childcare in place for your working hours.

Childcareconundrum Tue 16-Feb-21 09:27:12

@plugugly1980 the funded hours will make such a difference! Very much looking forward to them.

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Buttercupcup Tue 16-Feb-21 09:28:06

It’s a short term hit for long term gain.
Pay the nursery and then 3 year funding kicks in and makes it a bit easier then they go to school and wrap around care makes it a bit easier and you still have your career so your earning potential increases alongside. Or you (or your significant other) have to put your career on the back burner for a few years. We managed to negotiate both working compressed hours over 4 days and husband has Mondays off and I have Fridays-we both get a long weekend and only need 3 days in nursery would something like this be negotiable?

Charliebigpotatoes Tue 16-Feb-21 09:28:44

Have you looked into any local childminders?

I work 30 hours a week condensed into 3 days and we pay around £700. I'm in SW london and our childminder is £5.50 per hour so much cheaper and more flexible than a private nursery.

hollygoflightly Tue 16-Feb-21 09:31:16

Can you put your child into a school nursery and then have a childminder pick them up from school? That's what we did. It also gave us some options for school holidays when the nursery was closed. Just don't fall into the trap of thinking your wage doesn't cover 'your' nursery fees - as someone else has said, this is a shared cost and needs to be treated as such! It's a very skint time - I look back and think how did we manage- but you get through it x

Childcareconundrum Tue 16-Feb-21 09:32:33

@buttercupcup that's really interesting. I already have 1 day off in the week. 3 days at nursery would be financially quite manageable but we wouldn't be losing any work hours.

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Changechangychange Tue 16-Feb-21 09:35:32

Buttercupcup

It’s a short term hit for long term gain.
Pay the nursery and then 3 year funding kicks in and makes it a bit easier then they go to school and wrap around care makes it a bit easier and you still have your career so your earning potential increases alongside. Or you (or your significant other) have to put your career on the back burner for a few years. We managed to negotiate both working compressed hours over 4 days and husband has Mondays off and I have Fridays-we both get a long weekend and only need 3 days in nursery would something like this be negotiable?

This. I do full time over 3.5 days. Means we only have to pay for three days (DH works staggered hours for other reasons).

Childcareconundrum Tue 16-Feb-21 09:38:54

@changechangychange I am so sold on this. It makes perfect sense and when you spread the additional time it doesn't add much at all to the working day.

I think what other posters have also said is so true. Just suck it up and treat it as we will be skint for x amount of time but it is just a moment.

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Yellowtopaz Tue 16-Feb-21 09:40:04

I’ve started looking at nurseries too. Hoping to go back part time and compress hours a bit. Childminder likely to be cheaper?

Childcareconundrum Tue 16-Feb-21 09:53:24

We did consider childminders before and preferred the set up of a nursey. I'll have another look.

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Yellowtopaz Tue 16-Feb-21 09:59:47

I think I do too. It is expensive but just have to suck it up and when working out costs don’t look at it as solely from the perspective of your salary.

dontputitinyourmouth Tue 16-Feb-21 10:02:08

Depending on how much you earn you might also qualify to use the tax free scheme. Whatever you pay into your government account is topped up by 20%, you can then use this to pay ofsted registered childcare. So if you paid in £560 it would be topped up to £700

dontputitinyourmouth Tue 16-Feb-21 10:05:41

You can also use it in conjunction with the 30funded hours too when they kick in.

cathybates Tue 16-Feb-21 10:05:41

I’m not UK but going back after mat leave soon. I’ve (hopefully, just waiting on confirmation) doing my 28 hours (which I worked pre-DC) over 3 days. DH has negotiated compressing his hours to have Friday afternoons off, so just 2.5 days a week in nursery required. Still works out almost 1700 a month!!

Childcareconundrum Tue 16-Feb-21 10:10:18

@dontputitinyourmouth we already use the tax free scheme which really helps.

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Childcareconundrum Tue 16-Feb-21 10:12:08

@cathybates Wow! That is expensive! I feel terrible for moaning our fees now!

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cathybates Tue 16-Feb-21 10:15:18

@Childcareconundrum and where we are no free hours either.....It’s pretty shit tbh and one of the reasons we probs won’t have a third but, like others, I’m looking at longer term. Short term pain and all that!!

SinkGirl Tue 16-Feb-21 10:25:01

I think it’s slightly easier to look at it as a fixed term cost - so how many months @£1400, how much will it be once funded hours start etc? Obviously you’ve saved a massive amount over the last year, plus there’s tax free childcare so that’s 20% off.

We have twins, and barely any twin parents I know go back to work until their 30 hour entitlement kicks in, unless they qualify for tax credits to help. It’s brutal.

The problem with workings a compressed week is if you’re both working longer days you’ll need childcare earlier / later on those days which will push up the hours anyway.

LincolnshireLassInLondon Tue 16-Feb-21 10:30:09

We're zone 6 SE London. Nursery fees £1600 per month (5 days).

I see it as a temporary thing. Aged 1-3 it will be tight but we can manage. From 3 we'll get 30 free hours. From 4.5 DS will be in school. It's not forever and I think it's good for DS to be around other children (he's our only).

We are registered for tax free childcare which saved us £2000 per year. It's worth seeing if you're eligible if you haven't already.

Childcareconundrum Tue 16-Feb-21 10:36:34

@sinkgirl I can imagine with twins it must be so much harder.

You are so totally right. It's just under a year until 30 funded hours. There isn't much else we can be spending our money on these days anyway so I really need to look at it that way.

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