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Worried about childminder availability... Am I being unfair?

(18 Posts)
BitWorriedArgh Mon 08-Dec-14 23:46:06

I'm returning to work in a couple of months time (DD will be 10mo) and feeling really worried about childcare at the moment - but I might be being incredibly unreasonable and unfair so I hope someone can put me straight if so. I've never done this before so I have no idea what I should expect and I'm so worried I'm being horrible that I've changed my name! blush

Anyway I found a lovely childminder who lives very near us and is extremely warm and nice, and seems very good with DD. She will be one of only two mindees (and she has two kids of her own but slightly older). We found her well in advance and so we've decided to do some pretty gradual settling in - I realise this is quite a luxury! - the plan was to do an hour a week for a few weeks and then build up time from there.

My conundrum is this: over the last 7 weeks of trying to do an hour a week she has cancelled more than half of our sessions. We've done three now and not got past an hour in length, plus they've been fairly spaced out so I think DD has almost forgotten her by the time the next one has come round. The reasons are all serious/valid - illness, accidents, family emergencies - but I'm a bit shocked by the frequency.

Basically if I was already back at work one of us would have had to have taken leave/organised emergency childcare for several days in 4 of the last 7 weeks. With the best will in the world (and DH and I have very family friendly and flexible employers) that's just not going to wash with our workplaces.

I am hoping that it's just been a period of really bad luck but I'm worried it's going to continue sad

is it something I can or should discuss with her? I know if I had the equivalent time off at work I'd be having meetings with managers at the very least (though supportive nice ones I'm sure!) but I feel like the informal nature of the 'settling in' period makes this all harder, plus I don't know what to expect or what's appropriate for the CM relationship. Should I just be giving up on this and looking for a nursery place somewhere instead?

sad advice gratefully received!

OldLadyKnows Tue 09-Dec-14 00:03:00

What has CM done with her other mindee during these crises? It could be she's not prioritising an hour a week (when she knows you don't actually need childcare) the same way she would a fulltime placement. It's worth discussing with her.

BitWorriedArgh Tue 09-Dec-14 00:19:47

Hmm as far as I know she's cancelled for them too - I'm not 100% sure about every occasion but she's definitely told me this about one of the instances and implied it for another (in the context of her losing money iyswim).

I feel a bit at sea with it all - the hour a week was completely her idea and she's still really enthusiastic about it (when she's not cancelling) so I can't see why she'd not prioritise it..?

HSMMaCM Tue 09-Dec-14 02:30:50

You could ask her how many days she has closed at short notice over the last

adsy Tue 09-Dec-14 07:59:50

Hmm. to put it into context I have taken one afternoon off at short notice in the last 8 years and that is pretty standard for all the CM's I know....
Talk to her. she might just be having a terrible run at the mo. and this is completely out of the norm

LIZS Tue 09-Dec-14 08:14:13

It might be that because she knows you don't need childcare atm she feels able to expect you to be more flexible than if you had to be at work. Does she have the other child ft or pt? I wouldn't worry about dd forgetting just yet and realistically what are your chances of finding an alternative.

ScarlettOHaraHamilton Tue 09-Dec-14 08:37:44

It might be because she knows that you don't 'need' that hour, and also an hour is quite a funny little bit of time to do - as in, she needs to be in the house for that hour not at a group etc.

I would talk to her about it, though. We have always used CMs and even when our first CM had a genuinely difficult family situation, we only had three or four days changed at short notice, and almost all those days another CM could cover.

CMs are generally very reliable - its their income, after all.

Unclearpath Tue 09-Dec-14 08:39:36

It kind of sounds like she sees this as a flexible and casual arrangement which she isn't prioritising and feels as you aren't working this can be rearranged. I do think that this attitude and short notice is unprofessional.

I think you need to raise your concerns. Don't beat about the bush otherwise you'll find it harder to be direct and broach other things that may rise in the future. Hopefully she'll realise that you take this hour seriously and it is compromising the promise of a future mindee for her.

FlorenceMattell Tue 09-Dec-14 08:41:42

Have you irritated her with the hour a week settling in???
I had this with a baby I looked after , mum wanted me to do weeks of hour here and there settling in. And she didn't want to pay me, but I'm a nanny. Anyway I said no, one day of a couple of hours and then straight into the job. The baby was fine and happy from first week.
IMO babies don't need all this settling in, if the childcarer is kind and caring and sticks to baby's routine they settle quickly.
I think it is often just the mums anxiety playing out.
I expect she hasn't cancelled the other mindees just your silly hour. Not worth changing hospital appointment etc for £5 or whatever you are paying.

HSMMaCM Tue 09-Dec-14 08:41:52

Has she given you contact details of other parents you could phone for a reference? You could ask them if she has much time off at short notice.

HSMMaCM Tue 09-Dec-14 08:43:26

Agree with Florence. My settling in is done very close to the start time. Maybe 2 hrs Wednesday, morning Thursday, Afternoon Friday and then start full time Monday.

Unclearpath Tue 09-Dec-14 09:16:07

Florence, I agree. BUT op said it was the CMs suggestion?

BitWorriedArgh Tue 09-Dec-14 09:30:43

Thanks everyone.

Definitely all her idea about the settling in, I was really surprised and wasn't expecting to do more than a couple of days the week before I go back to work! She was really enthusiastic about how useful it would be so I deferred to her bc she's very experienced (>10 years in the job).

My gut feeling is that she has cancelled on the other mindee at least twice. I know she must have done once because she had to leave the area for a family emergency, and on two of the other occasions she has cancelled on me because of 'health and safety' (she's been unwell or not fit to work). Unless of course this is just what she's telling me sad

I have spoken to the other mindees mum on the phone bc she was a reference and she was full of praise for her. And her other reference. And she is honestly lovely in person.

Consensus then is that I will have to speak to her about it. Any tips on how to approach it? How can I do this without implying I think she's lying or stringing me along?!

BitWorriedArgh Tue 09-Dec-14 09:48:56

Sigh. Just rereading. Florence I think that was a bit mean - it's not my 'silly hour', if it's anyone's it's hers.
I am a first time mum but I'm not all that anxious about leaving DD in childcare, I'm only anxious about managing the relationship with the CM.

FlorenceMattell Tue 09-Dec-14 10:54:59

Well if the long settling-in is her idea, in my opinion (and it's just that), she doesn't sound very experienced with babies.
Apoligies if upset you OP. Yes find another childminder as wanting long settling in , plus letting you down frequently gives me impression she is not sure about having your baby. Maybe she is better with older children?

BitWorriedArgh Tue 09-Dec-14 11:03:40

It's ok. That thought did cross my mind. Certainly I think she thinks the long settling in period is needed bc DD is so small. Her other mindee is only two though, so it doesn't really add up completely. I will try to talk to her about it on Friday I think and hope I can word it so as not to cause offence confused

fieldfare Tue 09-Dec-14 11:12:57

Definitely talk to her about it as it could just be a run of bad luck. We've had a serious bout of d&v at the school I collect from and luckily we've not been ill, but last year I had to have 2 days (48 hrs) off as I picked it up from one of the mindee's. Exclusion policies are there for a reason.

It is a bit daunting putting your baby into childcare, but this is someone you're going to have to trust implicitly. Starting off unsure now won't help you in the long run so just have a talk with her.

kaffkooks Fri 12-Dec-14 15:42:44

This is the risk with CM with children. My son's CM has had to cancel 2 days this term because she has had to take her son to hospital. On a few occasions in the last year she has taken my son along to one of her child's physio appointments. I'm fine with that as it's a trip out to an interesting place and it's a compromise I am prepared to make so that my son is cared for in a small, loving, homely environment. If you need more guaranteed childcare then a nursery may be a better idea

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