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Working mum - childcare advice needed!

(22 Posts)
Hestur Thu 26-Oct-17 18:37:38

Hi parents and professionals, I would be most grateful for any advice about working full time with childcare. I’m a career changer and new mum to a 3 month old lass, and may even have another baby by the end of 2018 if things go as I hope. Before I had the baby I was successful in obtaining a training contract with a fantastic firm. Between now and September 2020 they are sponsoring me on two University courses, which are prerequisites to the training contract itself (I’ve already started and am studying now). Then from September 2020 to September 2022 I will be working full time at the firm on the paid training contract, which will be roughly £24K per annum. I heard that you need to look into childcare well in advance, and having just looked am now panicking slightly about childcare costs. From Sept 2019 I’ll need part time childcare for possibly 2 under 5’s and from Sept 2020 full time childcare for them both. My husband is self-employed and works away on his contracts, and it’s possible for him to earn well one year and maybe not the next. Does anyone have insight into any of the following?
1)How much does full time childcare really cost for two under fives?
2)How much does part time childcare really cost for two under fives?
3)Pros and cons of nursery vs childminders?
4)How does it work when your child is sick…do you just need to up and leave work if there is no one else to look after the sick children? I’m assuming nurseries send sick children home, but do childminders have different policies?
5)Do you usually need to commit to a rigid schedule of childcare, or do some providers have a more flexible or ad hoc approach?
6)What do people do about ‘paying for life’ when their combined earnings only just cover the childcare? Give up work? Look for benefits? I get the impression that if both partners work then there would be no benefit entitlement, but if the salaries only cover the childcare with little else to spare, then that’s a no win situation?! On 24K after tax and student loan repayments I would be left with about 19K to pay for childcare + everything else. Not sure how that works out.

Obviously childcare and childminding is a skilled, fantastic and vital career which demands very special qualities of its participants, and professionals should and must be paid well and properly. I’m just struggling to see how I can make it work within my own circumstances. Any advice or shared experiences from working parents and childcare professionals would be so welcome, thank you!

jannier Fri 27-Oct-17 09:33:10

1)How much does full time childcare really cost for two under fives?

This depends where you live typically £35 to £40 per child maybe a discount dependent on setting.

2)How much does part time childcare really cost for two under fives?
Between £4 and £8 an hour again depends on where you live, hourly rate tends to be higher part time.

3)Pros and cons of nursery vs childminders?
Both work to same standards and inspected by same body. You can get childminders who work on their own, with assistants, co-minders etc some will have 4 adults in a house then you get childcare on domestic premises which are like mini nurseries.....cms tend to be more flexible on hours. some cant offer cover if hey are off some can.
nurseries are bigger and run about 51 weeks a year. they charge if your off, some cms don't.
all settings can offer socialisation, large groups, separation from main carer you need to ask how they do it.

4)How does it work when your child is sick…do you just need to up and leave work if there is no one else to look after the sick children? I’m assuming nurseries send sick children home, but do childminders have different policies?
No setting should take sick children there is a duty to prevent infection you need to care for your child.
5)Do you usually need to commit to a rigid schedule of childcare, or do some providers have a more flexible or ad hoc approach?
Nursereis tend to need fixed days, You can find cms who are more flexible it depends on the individual cm
6)What do people do about ‘paying for life’ when their combined earnings only just cover the childcare? Give up work? Look for benefits? I get the impression that if both partners work then there would be no benefit entitlement, but if the salaries only cover the childcare with little else to spare, then that’s a no win situation?! On 24K after tax and student loan repayments I would be left with about 19K to pay for childcare + everything else. Not sure how that works out.
Benefits depend on salary, Every 3 year old gets 15 hours the term they after they are 3, and most will be eligible for 30 unless your combined income is more than £200k
What do you call life....food and bills or holidays, manicures etc.?

2014newme Fri 27-Oct-17 09:37:05

My twins attended nursery from age 15 months, 3 days per week, until they started school so about 3.5 years.
My final statement showed I had paid £45k in childcare over that time.
That was 9 years ago.

2014newme Fri 27-Oct-17 09:39:04

Op if your earnings are low then paying 2 lots of childcare at once can be a challenge. But look at the childcare costs as being out if combined income I. E you and partner. Your salary will presumably increase when you are qualified. The childcare years are the leaner years!

stealthbanana Fri 27-Oct-17 09:40:18

hestur assume you are a trainee lawyer and have a TC at a City firm. That's not a 9-5 job - if your husband is away you will need evening care as well.

On the upside you've got 3 years to save for it - start putting away money now!

2014newme Fri 27-Oct-17 09:42:28

For example if childcare costs £19k, your whole salary after loan repayment (I don't think it will!) then you gave your husbands salary to live on whether that be £100k, £50k or £25k. If he has some less well paid years you'll need to plan and save for those from the better paid years.

Smellybluecheese Fri 27-Oct-17 09:56:30

We are in the southeast. Our nursery charges £65 a day per child. I earn £50k and can’t afford to have two children in childcare. If I were you I’d wait until your first child is eligible for the free hours before having another one. It’s very expensive!

2014newme Fri 27-Oct-17 09:59:26

In terms of scholarships to be a lawyer, I would start a seperate thread on that as your question has got lost here. Getting a legal training contract is highly competitive though and they may expect you to already have done vacation placements etc

2014newme Fri 27-Oct-17 09:59:38

Wrong thread sorry

Hestur Sat 28-Oct-17 10:51:33

Hi, thank you for this, that is really helpful. It sounds like CM would be more appropriate for me. Paying for life, I mean covering the mortgage and buying some food.... no manicures for me! One day in the distant future maybe! I hope my firm are ok about needing to take care of a poorly child, and if not - well then it wouldn't be good place to continue working into the future. Thank you!

Hestur Sat 28-Oct-17 10:58:24

Hopefully my hubby will get enough income that year to cover bills and food if we do end up going for full time child care. Saving is the name of the game at the moment too. Yes it is a solicitor training contract I have and I'm hoping to come to an arrangement where I can put in the extra hours while hubby is home, but leave on time to pick up from childcare when he is not. I do already have a training contract, I worked really hard to get one the last two years so I really want to follow it through. Fingers crossed it all works out. It's comforting to know there are other working mummies out there, I dread leaving my girl but I'm doing this to provide for the family, as well as having a career. Thank you!

Ewanwhosearmy Sat 28-Oct-17 11:25:19

Universities often have a nursery on site which is cheaper than a normal one.

In the circumstances you describe I wouldn't even think about having a second child until your DD is 3 and eligible for funding. Not only will the childcare costs clean you out how do you plan to work full time and have time to study while looking after young children?

I did my degree as a mature student. My youngest was 2 when I started and my job was 20 hours, not FT. The only way I could get my essays done was to devote an entire Sunday to each one while DH took the DC out for the day. Sounds like you won't have that option.

FWIW I found nursery more flexible than a CM but they are still only open 8-6. Ours was £54 a day 10 years ago.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sat 28-Oct-17 11:36:05

If you're in London you're looking at costs of up to £85 or even £100 per day, per child at nursery.

If you have two children plus the demanding job a TC is, then a nanny might suit you better? They will look after sick children and stay late at short notice (within reason) which sounds more like what you need to manage.

Leaving on the dot when doing a TC is going to be pretty impossible at times. Your client or court don't care about your childcare arrangements - they just want the deadline met. Law firms are notoriously inflexible for this type of role.

Paying for childcare while you train is a relatively short term but essential cost. You may make a "loss" some years but it's an investment in your future.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sat 28-Oct-17 11:37:13

You do sound a bit wishy washy about the job. Getting a TC is a really big deal.

You might not get offered another.

Hestur Sat 28-Oct-17 12:10:54

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut, Thank you, looking into having a Nanny might be a really good option. Others have also suggested an au pair which might be good too, and yes I realise the years with childcare will most definitely be 'loss' making in financial terms, and I'm just interested here in finding out how other working parents make it work in these circumstances. I'm working in a Northern region, so costs will likely be slightly lower than London. I worked extremely hard researching, applying, undertaking work experience and undergoing several interview processes and I know what the job entails in terms of hours and commitment. Of course its a huge deal to get this; I worked so hard and was actually offered two TCs, and I'm so excited about embarking on this fantastic career. It's only natural that I would be worried about leaving my DD, but I don't see why this job should not also be for career driven mums, as well as younger students who often have little other commitments. I'm just trying to plan well in advance to make sure it all works out. I actually talked to other solicitor parents who shed some light on some of the ways they make it work. I'm hoping to give it my best shot at least.

Hestur Sat 28-Oct-17 12:16:43

Ewanwhosearmy thank you, perhaps I need to research a few more nurseries in the area to see if there are different policies. I had just assumed there would be no flexibility, so that's good to know. Luckily, despite my husband working away he can sometimes be home weeks at a time, and I am already managing to study with my little one. It's hard work, but managing so far. The full time work comes after the studying period, so not at the same time.

AccrualIntentions Sat 28-Oct-17 12:25:14

I'm in the north east (city centre setting) and nursery costs approx £55 per child per day. If they go full time it works out slightly less than that. Some nurseries may offer a discount for two children. I haven't really looked at childminding coats but as far as I'm aware they're largely comparable. There is also the government tax free childcare scheme that's come in (or childcare vouchers if these are an option through yours or DH's employer) which will save you some money.

In terms of flexibility, all the good nurseries near me were quite rigid in terms of notice periods etc, but that's because places are in demand so they can be. If that's less of an issue in your area they may be more flexible.

Hestur Sat 28-Oct-17 12:27:52

Thank you AccrualIntentions, good to know. Those costs sound about the same as what I have found so far. Sounds like prices are pretty standard.

AccrualIntentions Sat 28-Oct-17 12:35:49

Good luck with your training contract. You're absolutely right that they shouldn't just be for younger students. It's not entirely the same thing but I have a couple of colleagues who've joined my organisation recently on accountancy training contracts who have young children. I have so much respect for them combining working and studying for a professional qualification with having small children - I could barely look after myself when I was doing my professional accountancy qualification!

Hestur Sat 28-Oct-17 12:41:12

Thank you! I'm absolutely positive it can be done, just takes some knuckling down and lifestyle choices :-) I'm north east too, and there seems to be a really positive attitude here regarding working mums and maintaining a career alongside having a family :-)

fia101 Sat 28-Oct-17 12:48:35

If it’s a big commercial big and you have a seat in banking or corporate you may be expected to stay late and come in early. Other seats may be quieter 9-5. One trainee I know in my firm was in property and was there til 9 every night and weekends. In my department it was quiet and not bad. You need good reliable childcare (obviously). My cm takes kids til 7 if needs be and I pay her extra. Or if I have to drop them at 7am in occasions she is easy going and obviously paid extra. A nursery wouldn’t work for me. Law firms - expect marketing events and networking in evenings too.

Hestur Sat 28-Oct-17 15:11:59

Fia101 thanks, yes I had mixed feedback from employees in different departments about hours and flexibility. I guess it's a case of trying to find the best fit smile smile

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