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First time Mum to twins - advice please

(26 Posts)
willow3006 Thu 02-Jun-11 21:14:50

Hi

I'm expecting twins in Sept/Oct and have started thinking about what I'm going to do about childcare.

I'm in a dilemma because we can't afford to live on one wage because our mortgage and bills are so high (we live in Surrey where it's so expensive but can't afford to move because of the costs involved with doing that!) but it is looking like childcare will take up my whole salary.

A couple of friends told me they use aupairs as sole carers for their children during the week and we do have a spare room but from what I have read, even though people seem to do this, it appears that it's not legal/wise.

I've worked out that the very most we could afford for childcare is just over £1000 a month and this would leave us with about £200 to spend on anything else per month (after bills and mortgage).

Is there any kind of childcare I could get for this? I could work 2 days a week from home and 2 days in the office and cut my week to 4 days (although financially I'm not sure if that would be helpful!)

Any advice is appreciated as I'm not really sure what to do. We have no family around us at all and seem to be over the threshold for any tax cedits type of help.

Thank you

Willow

playftseforme Thu 02-Jun-11 21:31:26

Hi Willow, congrats on your twins grin. I live in east surrey and have a 4.5yo dd and nearly 1yo DTs. I have a fair experience of lots of diff childcare (used CM for dd for 3 years, and now she goes to pre-school at a nursery with 1 day at CM) and I've had an au pair and now a nanny for the DTs. I agree w you - it is expensive shock.
I think you will need to do your maths carefully, and prices do vary, even in Surrey, if you shop around.

Couple of thoughts:
- an au pair isn't supposed to have sole care of small children (I think guidelines I have seen suggest not under 4). They also only work 20 to 25 ish hours a week. I have a couple of twin mum friends who have had two au pairs, one to help with the getting ready in the mornings, and one to help with evenings and bedtime, since 20 hours doesn't stretch v far. My au pair was to help w my dd when i was pg with the DTs and DH was working abroad.
- CM rates vary a lot. I started paying £4.50 an hour, and you could probably get a 'sibling' discount. Mind you my CM has increased her rates every year. My CM also charges extra for meals, which frankly is a godsend (not all CMs I met provided meals).
- Nursery rates also very considerably. I know one near me that charges about £40 a day, mine is £52 - eek. They cost more for babies and get cheaper as the children get older because the ratios change and you can have more children per carer. Sibling discounts are common. You can apply for the early years discount from 3 yo, and it might be available earlier dep. on circs.
- for CMs and nurseries, if your employer offers childcare vouchers you should accept them cos they help take some of the ouch out of the bill.
-nannies - sometimes cost the same as a childminder/nursery by the time you work out the bill for 2. I found there wasn't much in it for me. Nanny share?
-very hard to work from home with DTs if you haven't any childcare at home for those days.

HTH
All the best

nannynick Thu 02-Jun-11 23:01:26

A live out nanny in Surrey working 55 hours a week could cost you around £37,000 a year. Lower the number of hours and it does become cheaper but what you get paid by your work will also drop.

Look at your family finances jointly - is it worth both of you working if it will cost more than the lower salary in childcare costs?

Is working longer in a day possible, so for example fitting 5 days of work into 4 days? If so, then could your partner finish work any earlier on say 4 days of the week, then work longer on the 5th day?
What you are trying to do is reduce the number of hours of childcare needed. Then see how much childminders are locally, see if any are able to take twins (they will often need a variation on their registration, as twins would be under age 1). Look at nursery costs.

Joshuassss Fri 03-Jun-11 19:43:08

Have you considered a mothers help ?

willow3006 Sat 04-Jun-11 14:40:38

Hi

What exactly is a Mother's help? How does it differ from a nanny or au pair? Can they be left alone with the children all day whilst I'm at work?

Willow

nannynick Sat 04-Jun-11 16:20:48

Mothers help in my view is another name that can be used for an unqualified nanny. The duties they do would be more focused on the household and is working alongside a parent. So not usually much sole charge of children, though there may be occasional times.

Don't get hung up over the names used for different roles. Instead define the type of help you need by listing the things the person would need to do. Consider if they would be supervised by you all the time, or if you would be leaving them to get on with things unsupervised.

If you are leaving home to go to work somewhere else, then I feel you need to have a Nanny - be they qualified or not, up to you. Some nannies have a lot of experience with young children yet may have no formal qualification, whereby others may be qualified and have little experience. I would suspect that in your case having someone with experience is going to be best, ideally experience caring for twins - though that may be hard to find.

The problem I see is your childcare budget... it just doesn't seem to be enough to cover the costs of a nanny in Surrey. I would suggest looking at Childminders and Nurseries. If you go the nanny route, then I suspect they will need to be live-in which will mean that you lose a lot of family privacy... consider carefully if you really want someone else living at your home.

willow3006 Sat 04-Jun-11 16:57:35

Thanks for your help. We have looked at childminders and nannies and both seem to be way out of our price range too.

LynetteScavo Sat 04-Jun-11 17:06:02

I think your only option financially is a live in mothers help.

MotherPanda Sat 04-Jun-11 17:11:49

have you looked to see if your employers offer any help? i know mine offers discounts for local nurseries etc, and they do the chuildcare voucher scheme where you pay in a bit of your salary and so dont get taxed for that amount?

is working part time an option? then youd only have to pay for pt childcare?

willow3006 Sat 04-Jun-11 22:32:58

Hi

I think Mothers Help seems to be the way to go. My employer has nothing like that unfortunately. I could work part time 3-4 days a week but I don't see how it would help as then I'd get paid less?

I think a live-in ofsted registered nanny would be your best bet and you could pay them £200 gross a week for a 40hr week if you chose a nanny whose first nanny job - so perhaps a nursery nurse with an NVQ with some experience of baby room then they will have experience of caring for more than 1 baby at a time.

With an ofsted registered nanny you can then part pay them with childcare vouchers both you and your husband can have £243 a month (if each earn under £42,000 individually) this is then not a taxed part of your salary. If your work are not signed up to childcare vouchers then ask them to sign up to a company as it benefits them too apparently my husbands company didnt do them but signed up - his use edenread childcare vouchers and mine use compushare and we will be paying our childminder from each account she doesnt mind it comes from different sources as long as she gets paid!!

Will you be entitled to child tax credit/working tax credit (joint income needs to below £42,000) if you are then you need to work out whether tax credits or childcare vouchers work out best for you - there is an online calculator - we were not entitled to tax credits after the changes in april so cant help there really.

Mandy21 Wed 08-Jun-11 09:05:40

It does come as quite a shock when you're expecting twins and realise just how much childcare will be. I couldn't believe it!

I agree with what the other posters have said - its a question of trying to juggle everything so that you minimise the number of hours / days of childcare that you need.

As others have said, you can ask your employer to sign up for the childcare vouchers, and some employers (including mine) offer a salary sacrifice scheme where all of my nursery fees are paid directly by my employer, so I don't pay tax and national insurance on any of it, not just the first £243 or whatever it is with the voucher scheme. Its worth checking whether either your employer or your partners do it - it doesn't have to be your employer.

Is there any way your work is flexible? You say you could work 3-4 days - could you work 4 days hours in 3 days? If you couldn't actually fit 4 days work into 3 days at the office, could you agree to do a few hours from home? That way you'd be getting paid for 4 days but only needing childcare for 3 days? As others have said, you will get a discount at nurseries for the 2nd child, usually 10%. If you use an average cost of say £50 per child per day, that would be £95 for the two. It works out to more than £1000 per month based on 3 days, but if you get tax relief on part of it, it should be do-able. Also, have you factored child benefit into your calculations? It won't make a huge difference - but it'll be almost £150 per month for the twins.

The only other thing I would say is that if you are considering nurseries rather than any other form of childcare, you need to start looking asap, particularly for 2 x baby places.

Good luck with your pregnancy. My twins are 6 now - very envious you're about to embark on such a wonderful experience.

catepilarr Wed 08-Jun-11 09:57:13

usually the terms aupair, mothers help and nanny are used like this /eventhough, as nick says, it doesnt really matter what you call the person/:

aupair - a young girl/boy with no or little experience in childcare coming to britain from another country to experience the culture and learn the language whilst helping the family with looking afer children and light housework for 25-35 hours a week. they usually either help a SAHM with little children or look after school kids before and after school. they live in.

mothers help - someone with various experience in childcare, sometimes a newly qualified nanny with no experience, sometimes an older person wanting to get into nannying when they dont have enough experience to be a sole charge nanny. they work alongside of the parent, giving them extra hands, with short periods of sole charge sometimes, help with children and housework. they can be live in or live out, part time of full time.

nanny - is usually a qualified and experienced professional who has sole charge of children while you are are at work or work from home. unless they are nanny-houskeeper they dont do much housework. again , they can be live in or out and part time or full time, you can also share a nanny with another family.

pollywollyhadadollycalledmolly Wed 08-Jun-11 13:59:13

As a cm i would have no probs charging £250 a week for twins. (£100 pm based on a 4 week month)

willow3006 Wed 08-Jun-11 18:56:34

I wish you lived near us Pollywolly!!

My work does do the childcare vouchers but we can only get up to £114 a month salary sacrifice which hardly works out as any saving really as it's only the tax you don't pay on that £114. Unfortunately in my job, it's set hours so 4 days would be 4 days. I can't really do the job in 3 days but get paid 4. I think it's going to be a job to persuade my boss I can work the job part time in 4 days as it is. I could even work 3 days but then the money goes down too much so it won't make a difference!

I would rather use a childminder than a nursery but I don't think I'll find one in Twickenham or nearby that will charge £1000 a month. It seems the way forward is a mother's help - I must admit I'd much rather not have someone live-in as I do really value our privacy (we've only been married 6 months!) but if it's the only viable option, we will do it.

Thanks for all your help. If anyone happens to know any childminders in the area that you think might be in our budget, do let me know.

willow x

serious1 Wed 08-Jun-11 18:59:22

if you post on the rchmond mumsnet local you may get a response there

Mandy21 Thu 09-Jun-11 10:12:25

Just one thing to bear in mind - most childminders are only allowed to have 1 baby under 12 months so it might be tricky.

Good luck

fraktious Thu 09-Jun-11 10:21:30

Most childminders will be happy to apply for a variation to have 2 under 1s in the 3 under 5s but a newly registered CM may not have such a variation granted.

Variations for twins are quite common.

iskra Thu 09-Jun-11 10:23:12

Isn't there a sibling exemption, mandy21?

Mandy21 Thu 09-Jun-11 13:31:37

I don't know very much about childminders, so there may well be ways round it. I know I looked into it and there were very few that would take twins (but that was 5 years ago and things may have changed). I would also be worried about the ability of a childminder to look after twins under 1 and other children on top of that - seems a big responsibility to me - but thats just my personal opinion.

fraktious Thu 09-Jun-11 14:22:32

With the variation the CM would have to prove they could fo it, they'd only have 1 other FT child as it's highly unlikely OFSTED would let them have 4 under 5 inc 2 under 1 if the under 1s were twins, then potentially 3 5-8s. During the day it would be no different to having twins and an older sibling, besides which CMs are accustomed to looking after multiple children and not all work at full capacity.

Very few will have the variation in place but most will be able to apply.

AllTheYoungDoods Thu 09-Jun-11 14:33:31

"The only other thing I would say is that if you are considering nurseries rather than any other form of childcare, you need to start looking asap, particularly for 2 x baby places."

Mandy how far in advance to you mean, as obviously it depends on when OP wants to go back to work??

(I'm expecting in Oct/Nov, and planning 6 months off)

Mandy21 Thu 09-Jun-11 15:19:06

I don't think there is any harm in looking now as a) you're more mobile now than you would be taking 2 x v young babies around to look and b) the better nurseries will get booked up quicker. As always, it depends where you are and what the demand is like.

I looked about 12 months in advance (I had 18 months off) and didn't get places at my first choice.

Mandy21

AllTheYoungDoods Thu 09-Jun-11 15:35:51

Oh jaysus.

<Looks at to-do list>

<Looks at gin>

<weeps a little>

Thanks for the tip!

happyfaceschildcare Thu 09-Jun-11 17:09:15

Hi I'm an Ofsted registered childminder in Surrey, I've looked after twins before and Ofsted approve this, they wouldn't expect twins to be split up and looked after by different childminders so don't worry about that, as long as the childminder has the space obviously. I always offer a discount for siblings too, so I don't think you'd find it impossible to find a childminder within your budget, I'm in Ashford, probably a little to far for you but if I can be of any help just message me grin)

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