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Childcare for older children (single parent)

(19 Posts)
Nonnus Thu 15-Nov-12 09:16:16

I'm looking for other people's stories (good and bad, but I'd prefer more of the good!) regarding how you organise childcare for your older children when you have a "career".

I work full time and am a single mum. My job can be demanding. DCs are 11 and 9. At present we live near my family, who have the DCs after school and in holidays. For various reasons, I'm planning to move to a new town next year, which will mean organising alternative childcare. The move will mean we are closer to my work, better schools, and the DCs' father, so lots of plus points long term. But my family's comments are making me doubt whether it's really do-able without them on hand for childcare. If I have to leave a bit earlier than usual for work, or get home a bit later, at the moment it's no problem. On occasion the DCs have even slept at their grandparents' house if necessary. I've been planning to get an au pair when we move but my dad keeps pointing out how unreliable this will be and what will I do if the au pair just decides to leave on a whim? Which is a good point really, but on the other hand I think: there must be lots of mums with demanding careers who manage childcare without the help of their families, surely? So, how do you make it work?

Because of the ages of the DCs, I don't think a nanny would be appropriate btw, and I couldn't afford one anyway.

Italiana Thu 15-Nov-12 09:37:15

I can't see the problem. I care for older children, take them to school, collect and care for the holidays..or just do holiday care or term time only
Plenty of c/ms would do that, I love older children especially in the holidays

It would be helpful to know where you are, have you checked FIS in the area?
I am in Richmond upon Thames

Bonsoir Thu 15-Nov-12 09:49:31

I am not in your position, but I have many friends who are single mothers with demanding careers (and lots of work related travel) and I think you would be crazy to forfeit family help in this way if you could possible avoid it!

Nonnus Thu 15-Nov-12 10:32:20

Italiana, it will be Guildford/Woking area.

Bonsoir, I am in two minds myself. I really feel that as they get older it would be better for the DCs to be nearer their dad and his new family (easier to have more ad hoc contact), and also if we move to the new town they will be able to go to much, much better schools than we have where we are now. Also, where we are now is quite isolated and I think that as they become teenagers it would be better for them to be somewhere more "connected" with transport links and stuff to do.

Literally the ONLY reason to stay where we are is the assistance of my family. It's a big reason, but does it outweigh all the rest?

I am afraid of making the wrong decision, but equally am afraid of spending the next 10 years in a place which is fairly inconvenient and constantly wondering "what if?"

duchesse Thu 15-Nov-12 10:37:18

An au pair might work well for you if you have space!

Bramshott Thu 15-Nov-12 10:38:10

There's no reason why an au-pair should be particularly unreliable if you get the right one.

Bonsoir Thu 15-Nov-12 14:50:24

OK, you have good reasons for wanting to move. How long until your DCs can get themselves to school/stay alone at home after school? Because that is the crux of the matter. For as long as they need adult supervision for almost every waking minute, I wouldn't forfeit family help if I were you.

Nonnus Thu 15-Nov-12 16:04:08

I think probably I would not want them to be at home alone regularly until they were at least 13 and 15. But I can't wait till them to move because there's no way I'm moving them half way through secondary school. DS starts year 8 next Sept and that's why I think if we're moving, it has to be now.

I don't like anything about where we live at the moment apart from the family help. Just taking the DCs to their father's at the weekend is a 3 hour round trip. I have no friends where we are and my commute is 90 mins each way. The local school DS would go to next Sept is not great and he has had some problems being bullied by other kids who will go there. I dream of a life where the DCs both go to good schools where they are happy, and we can all get to work/school in under half an hour and not spend a large part of precious weekends on the motorway going to dad's. If we moved, the DCs would only have a couple of hours after school each day when they'd need looking after, as I would get home so much earlier. Holidays I think we could manage between me, dad and the grandparents (who would still help, but just wouldn't be around the corner any more).

Is this really unrealistic? Where are all the working mums??

Bonsoir Thu 15-Nov-12 18:36:25

Could you not get a cleaner/housekeeper type person who would clean and prepare dinner after school and keep an eye on your children? It would take a lot of strain off you and not give your children, who are no longer little, the feeling that they are being supervised by a babysitter? You might find an older person whose own children have left home who wouldn't mind a job like that.

Nonnus Thu 15-Nov-12 19:30:33

I would love such a person, Bonsoir, but I don't know how easy one would be to find.

EBDTeacher Thu 15-Nov-12 19:38:26

There's another person on here looking for childcare in Surrey. You could totally share a nanny. grin

EBDTeacher Thu 15-Nov-12 19:41:02

Here. You should definitely get together! grin matchmaker

Bonsoir Thu 15-Nov-12 19:41:23

Advertise. Be very clear in your spec about your expectations - "kind lady with experience of teenagers sought to take care of our family in the late afternoon and early evenings - light daily housework/ironing and preparing a hot evening meal."

MrsWobble Thu 15-Nov-12 19:43:49

Nonnus, I think we had what you describe. We had a cleaner/housekeeper who came in at 2pm for 5 hours each day. Her duties included the school run (a walk) and preparing the children's tea as well as the cleaning and laundry.

It worked brilliantly. She still works for us but only 3 days a week now that 2 of them are at boarding school (so less laundry) and no school run as the youngest is at secondary school.

It cost us less than our previous arrangement of live in unqualified nanny - basically an experienced au pair but who I think took on more responsibility than a standard au pair so I wanted to pay commensurately.

It meant we had to do the morning school run - i don't know if this is possible for you but our primary school had a computer club from 8am so it worked for us.

We got our lady from an agency so we had a guarantee of reliability - if she was sick/on holiday they would provide a replacement. In practice, she has never been sick and takes holiday when we do but we appreciate how lucky we are. We now employ her direct - since reducing her hours - so she gets a higher hourly rate and we pay a little bit less. The agency were happy with this - the T&Cs allowed them to charge a finders fee but they didn't - I think they felt they'd made enough money out of us over the years.

I felt we could do this as we can now manage if she is sick/on holiday because the children are old enough. She's still never been sick or taken holiday when not convenient though. We are so so lucky.

The agency was called Homebirds - I found it from a recommendation on here many years ago. The cleaners are typically Bulgarian but the agency takes responsibility for confirming right to work etc. i assume they are still operating although we haven't had contact for several years now. i don't know what geographical areas they cover - but hopefully you can find something similar in your area.

I hope you find a solution that works. Good luck

Nonnus Fri 16-Nov-12 05:17:29

Thanks all. EBDTeacher, I'm not sure whereabouts in Surrey the other Mner is but a nanny share could be tricky as we both need after school care and my DCs are quite a bit older. But thank you.

MrsWobble you do sound lucky! Do you mind me asking what sort of hourly rate you pay your lady?

Bonsoir re advertising, the fact that we are relocating means I'm not sure how best to go about this. We wouldn't be moving before the end of the summer term but I wouldn't want to leave sorting the childcare till then. But equally, is it unpractical to expect to recruit someone when you can't even show them where you'll be living yet? How long before you want them to start should you start the search, do you think?

Bonsoir Fri 16-Nov-12 09:01:29

Nonnus - I don't think that the type of job you are going to recruit for has a very long lead time. How about doing as MrsWobble suggested, and contacting some agencies and asking their advice? I think you need to have designed your recruitment strategy (so, very detailed job description and benefits and the advertising/recruitment sources you will use) before you move, ready to put the plan into action the moment you are settled in your new home.

If you are organised and professional about what you want, you will find someone as it is actually a very nice job!

MrsWobble Fri 16-Nov-12 09:18:15

Nonnus, we currently pay £10 per hour. I think when we left the agency we were paying £11 per hour to them - I suspect she was getting minimum wage but don't actually know. We offered her £8 per hour at that point - 2 years ago - and have given her a pay rise since then.

Nonnus Fri 16-Nov-12 12:17:31

MrsW, was this Homebirds your agency?

MrsWobble Fri 16-Nov-12 16:02:42

Yes. They were very helpful when we called to explain what we were looking for.

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