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To be totally torn between nurseries but leaning towards the logistically difficult, more expensive, chain one?

(31 Posts)
stqueen Thu 29-Oct-15 12:38:28

As it says really. Looking for DD who will be almost 12 months when she starts. I'm restricted to 3/4 nurseries as it needs to be close to home for work etc. I've discounted 2 already leaving the other 2:

Nursery 1 is (on paper) ideal. It's on route to my work, close to DH's work so drop offs & pick ups will be much easier. Family run, homely feel, in a nice village. Flexible payment system (weekly, monthly, whatever suits best), nappies included in the cost. BUT…the nursery seemed a little worn, tatty & messy - just little things like the carpet in the baby room a bit grubby, masking tape covering a patch on the floor, outside space was a mess etc. The kids looked happy & comfortable though… I'm a FTM so no idea what im looking for & what's good/what's not. I just know I didn't get a strong feeling that I want DD to be there 5 days a week!

Nursery 2 is a bit further out from work & will therefore be a challenge to pick up and drop off - do-able but will be a race against the clock some days when DH can't do pick ups (3 days every 3 weeks approx due to working away). This nursery is significantly more expensive than nursery 1, it's bigger in size as capacity for up to 50 children & it's part of a (smallish) chain so less flexible on things like payment schedules etc. This is the one I got 'the feeling' in & my gut is saying this is the one. Nice large rooms, 3 large rooms for the little ones (0-12m & 1-2) & downstairs another 2 large spaces for 2-3 & 3-4. The children are moved up depending development not age (as with nursery 1).

I'm torn & I need to make a decision to reserve DD a place. My head is saying go for the one that's easier to get to/from & slightly cheaper. My heart is saying go for the one I feel DD would thrive better in (can't even quantify why I think this though - responses to my questions were similar so the differentiator is just a nicer environment I guess). Both nurseries are OFSTED Outstanding. Any advice from anyone who's been there done that welcome smile

Solasum Thu 29-Oct-15 12:45:14

In a similar situation I went for the family run nursery. It was less polished, but I reasoned that they'd care more about the kids than a chain. Whether that is true or not I am not sure, but DS is very happy there, and it really does have a family feel.

Do not underestimate the benefits of flexibility and commute time. It an be tough leaving DC to go back to work, and 'only' 20 extra minutes travel might rapidly become 20 minutes you really resent not spending with your child.

PolterGoose Thu 29-Oct-15 12:47:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GozerTheGozerian Thu 29-Oct-15 12:52:06

Can you speak to any other parents? We've just had similar decision to make with DS2 and went for the homely one. Facilities aren't as good but the staff were so warm and friendly and they have a genuine open door policy so you can go anytime and know they aren't putting on a show. But it was other parents who convinced me - everyone raved about the care.

Logistics though are really important. You don't want to be introducing regular additional stress worrying about travel times. Of course you'll have the odd occasion where traffic conspires against you but that should be the exception - rather than s regular cycle of rushing round.

Did you take your DD with you? How were staff with her?

stqueen Thu 29-Oct-15 13:17:14

Very good point - it's easy on mat leave to see Logistics as something that can be worked with. I won't have any less time with DD as both nurseries close at 6 but it will be very stressful getting to nursery 2 by 6pm on the days I pick up. I intend to leave on time most days when I return (5pm), but if we go with nursery 2 I will literally have to be out of the door at 5 on the nose to pick up DD. It's not expected that we stay later than 5 but I'm a manager with a heavy workload so not sure how that will come across & don't want to add to my stress even more by pissing off my boss. Nursery 1 is easily do-able as long as I've left the office by 5.10pm.

I took DD with me to both nursery visits & I would say both equally took an interest in her…

Argh! (In a strange way it's comforting to know this is a familiar dilemma).

Littlef00t Thu 29-Oct-15 13:20:25

From your description I prefer the family run one, especially with the stress of pick up from the other one and the flexibility of payment with the first one.

The only things swaying me are the size of the rooms and making sure a just 2 yo is not put in with a large room of 3-4 yos without enough staff to make them feel secure.

Also, are you more likely to get continuity of key worker from the first one, if the second is a chain I would wonder about turnover.

FeliciaJollygoodfellow Thu 29-Oct-15 13:26:47

Honestly I'd go with the first one.

How it looks has got nothing to with how they will care for her - I think unless you have seen something obviously distressing you just aren't in a place to comment until the child is actually there, which is obviously not going to happen!

Go with the one that you can get to easier. I would expect a nursery to be 'a mess' - it means the children are playing everywhere with everything!

Don't let aesthetics put you off.

FeliciaJollygoodfellow Thu 29-Oct-15 13:30:44

And to add, when we were looking at nurseries we saw 3. We went with the one that was funnily enough the most modern and cost more - but crucially, it was on the business park where my husband worked. It meant that he could bring the boys home on the bus rather than expecting me to collect in the car as I did shift work. (The others we considered were local but not as easy to get to if that makes sense).

This worked out well when our car had to be scrapped and we couldn't afford to buy a new one!

COPMyourselfon Thu 29-Oct-15 13:33:46

Our nursery was a tatty family run one but they staff were really good and caring. There was a more homely atmosphere.

We moved house and moved to a chain nursey and although it was newer, shinier and their admin was more efficient the quality of care was not as good. Don't be seduced by glossy brochures and fresh paint!

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 29-Oct-15 13:36:30

I would ask about the use of agency staff and staff turnover in my dilemma there was big shiny corporate that when I asked had 2-3 agency staff a day and had a high staff turnover. The family less shiny nursery never used agency staff ( the had small pool of part time staff who could work more hours) and very low staff turnover, nearly all the staff who were there when DD started were still there when she left 4.5years later. DD is now 12 and we still live in the same area and we still see people who cared for her and ask after her. She made friends that she is still friends with now it was like being in a big family.

saoirse31 Thu 29-Oct-15 13:42:51

Would choose sml one every time, more chance of staff staying, etc

HaydeeofMonteCristo Thu 29-Oct-15 13:53:05

Have had similar problems. Although your two choices will never be the same as mine.

I went for a logistically difficult one with large rooms, more expensive than other choices and very clean.

However, it was not a chain (owned by a couple).

The logistically easy (and perfectly fine) one was a chain, but less clean and smaller rooms/garden.

So while I choice the more logistically difficult nursery, and the one I had the feeling about, the situation was not the same as yours.

Bimblywibble Thu 29-Oct-15 13:53:07

Normally I would go with your gut, but if you'd be tight to get to the second one by closing time that would almost rule it out. I need a margin of contingency and it often gets used.

It's not impossible to change nurseries. You could start at the first one, then move to the other when she goes into the preschool room if you think you can manage without the extra slack.

No one can really advise you which they'd choose without knowing the individual nurseries. One person's small family nursery can offer a very different experience for the child, compared with a superficially similar set up in the next village. It comes down to the leadership, planning and staff at an individual nursery.

Don't forget that if you are late into work, you need some slack to make up time if DD has a dr appt or you are slow gettting away, or there's a traffic incident, or roadworks. I suggest you need some sort of slack, at least a day or 2 a week, to make up for unavoidable late starts.

HaydeeofMonteCristo Thu 29-Oct-15 13:54:59

Sorry if that's little help.

Also, the fact staff had not changed much better DD leaving and DS starting (5year age gap) was a big factor when choosing for him.

I agree staff turnover a big factor.

Bimblywibble Thu 29-Oct-15 13:58:03

Oh, and you do have the option of reserving space at both and deciding later. You'd lose your deposit at one, but that might be a price worth paying. It's morally a bit dodgy but fairly common I think.

HSMMaCM Thu 29-Oct-15 14:02:56

I normally say go with your gut feeling, but don't underestimate the stress of running late to pick up. Go back and visit both again.

SparklyLeprechaun Thu 29-Oct-15 14:39:55

This is not going to be much help, but here's my experience.

We went for a smaller, cheaper, more convenient, family ran nursery. I wish we didn't. It was closed by the council (environmental health or whatever) on health and safety grounds for keeping the children in freezing temperatures during the winter. I'm still feeling guilty about putting them in there and it was years ago. We moved them to a large nursery after that, it wasn't perfect but there was more accountability, more staff, a manager who knew her job.

But really, that was just my experience, no one can advise you without knowing the nurseries involved.

greenhill Thu 29-Oct-15 14:45:10

If the chain one is logistically more difficult, you will always feel stressed getting there on time and they will fine you for every 15 minutes you are late.

The smaller one may do that too, but is likely to be more flexible. The bigger one won't be able to be discretionary.

1AngelicFruitCake Thu 29-Oct-15 15:00:01

I went for a more family run one than the glossy one with better facilities. My baby is really happy there (or seems to be!) you've got to imagine yourself after a long day at work where you suddenly have something come up at 5, you're tired and then you've got the stress of getting there. That's a lot of pressure you're putting yourself under. I'd go for the first one

IKillEveryBloodyThreadIPostOn Thu 29-Oct-15 15:08:57

I think the family run one would be the one I would choose. I agree that it can be very stressful rushing to pick your child up, and some nurseries charge extra.

I used to work in a big fancy chain nursery. The children were taken good care off by the staff in the rooms but management were utter horrors. High staff turnover, never enough staff to look after the kids (think 2 staff members looking after 7 babies when it should be 3 members), staff constantly stressed. We were told to always put on a smile when we had new parents being shown round and 'act like we're happy'. They kept shipping staff of to other branches who were short, leaving themselves with not enough. This meant the same staff members were never in ne place for long. Awful.

I'm now in a smaller nursery, which is 100 better (from my POV) The staff are well treated, there is enough to meet the staff:child ratio, therefore better quality care for the little ones. There are no other branches to worry about and it's consistent as same staff members are there looking after the kids and greeting the parents.They may not have the best toys are the biggest rooms but that isn't important at the end of the day, it's the level of care and trust, I think.

I realise this may be clouding my judgement, and of course not all chains are like this. Just make sure to double check things like this when deciding. After all happy staff means happy children smile. Agree with the poster up thread who said don't be bought over by the shininess of it.

G1veMeStrength Thu 29-Oct-15 15:15:29

Go with your gut feeling. We went for the 'inconvenient nursery' because it felt like it would suit DS better. I am SO glad. He really did love it there. He is 10 now and his key workers still ask after him, he has fond memories, still friendly with the children he met there. (Ditto DD when she followed.) Couldn't have been a better start to 'life beyond mummy and daddy' and the stress of getting stuck in traffic is a faded memory.

Somehow the logistics will sort themselves out. 3 times every 3 weeks isn't too bad. Sometimes I would run a works errand at say 4.30 if something needed collecting from the printers (near the nursery) or had a doctors appt or whatever.

WhatamessIgotinto Thu 29-Oct-15 15:23:45

I would find out about staff turnover in both of them. I was a NN in a beautiful (expensive) Ofsted outstanding private nursery. It was huge, massive garden, loads of equipment etc. But it was ALL about the money. So many staff left because we were constantly short staffed, under paid and I was even told that I played with the children too much.

greenhill Thu 29-Oct-15 15:25:49

Have you also thought about what you will do if nursery phone to say that your DC is ill and has to be picked up immediately?

DC tend to get lots of coughs, colds, chickenpox, head lice and d&v etc once they're mixing with lots of other children who also have siblings. Have you got family nearby or would it be down to you or your DH if your child was unwell? The logistics of it could be important then.

On the plus side, once they're at school most of the things that can only be caught once will have been ticked off the list!

Bimblywibble Thu 29-Oct-15 16:41:00

Greenhill we've always worked on the basis that they will be fine at nursery for an hour while oneof us goes & gets them. It must surely be very normal among people using nurseries not to have family nearby.

notquitehuman Thu 29-Oct-15 16:44:21

We had a choice between a sleek, 'outstanding' nursery which had a long waiting list, or a much less glam one that was friendly and a mere 'good' according to Ofsted. I'm glad we went for the latter because my DS has been so well supported. All the staff know his name, even the ones in other classes, and they've been awesome with behavioural issues, potty training etc.

TBH, most nurseries look a bit rough round the edges. As does anywhere housing lots of children!

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