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Pregnant and having a childcare meltdown. Help!

(25 Posts)
tiggy2610 Tue 30-Dec-14 06:50:44

Oh wise MNetters, I don't know if it's my hormones but I am currently 8 months pregnant and last night spent a good hour sobbing to DH about my lack of knowledge about childcare and how this meant I was a completely unsuitable mother. I've pulled myself together a little but am now seeking advice from the pros!

I plan on on taking 9 months maternity leave and returning to work around 4 days a week (hopefully) in November 2015. Having spoken to a few colleagues we are leanings towards childminder in the city we work in (Leeds) which would be close to both of us during the day.

My question is - where the hell do I start? How soon should I be contacted and looking for childminders? Have I left it too late? I plan on going back to work 4 days but currently don't know what my hours will be or if they will even accept my application for changed working hours, I probably won't know until a few months prior to returning to work. (I currently work 9-5 mon-fri) Can I provisionally arrange childcare without that information?

My employer offers kiddivouchers to help with the cost, but I have absolutely no idea what the actual financial implications of these are. Are they worth it?

Even though my return to work is 10months away I already have people pulling faces at me when I mention I haven't secured childcare yet and it's making me panic. I have images of returning to work and hiding poor DS in my bottom drawer as bad-mummy wasnt organised enough to sort this out for him confused not to mention trying to figure out the cost of all of this!

Any tips, guidance, mental slaps very welcome over here smile

tiggy2610 Tue 30-Dec-14 07:00:34

Edit: very sorry if this is in the wrong place. I looked for the closest board I could find

meandjulio Tue 30-Dec-14 07:01:02

'I already have people pulling faces at me when I mention I haven't secured childcare yet'

Welcome to parenthood - everyone's a critic. fGS in what other world are you expected to have plans in place over a year in advance?? You'll be fine.

I got a nursery place lined up when I was 5 months pregnant. When ds was a few months old, I read a book which I'm not going to recommend to you, pulled him out of nursery and lined up a childminder in about two months flat.

Have a look at Family Information Service Leeds and start ringing people. I'd be amazed if you get any response other than 'Oh it's much too early yet, I don't know what vacancies I'll have' but I'm ready to be proved wrong!

Iggly Tue 30-Dec-14 07:01:23

The only thing I did when (very) pregnant was look at a nursery. Then forgot about it for a while until ds was about 9 months and started looking again.

We ended up with a nanny going via an agency. Friends look for childminders via and rang around for spaces and asked locally (e.g. second time mums at playgroups are good sources).

No you're not a bad mother at all!

icklekid Tue 30-Dec-14 07:02:45

For over subscribed nursery would be bit late but childminders are different. They often don't know if have spaces until term before. I'm going back to work in april and just sorted before Christmas. You need to know what days/hours so they know if they have spaces. As for where to look- local councils have lists of registered childminders or I used but word of mouth/recommendations /meeting at baby groups is possibly best.

Don't worry it will get sorted. As for childcare vouchers they are tax free as taken out of salary before you are taxed. Check the childminder you choose accepts them if you want to do this as they don't all

gamerwidow Tue 30-Dec-14 07:32:10

As others have said it's too early to look for a childminder they won't hold a space for 10 months. However you could always start asking around and contact your local family information service. This is one of the few occasions where the net mums website can be helpful too.
I would think about getting a childminder close to home rather than close to work. If they are close to home they'll probably do local school and preschool pick ups and drop offs so you may be able to keep them until your dc leaves primary school if you like them.

TooManyDicksOnTheDancefloor Tue 30-Dec-14 07:38:54

I live in Leeds and have used three different childminders, all fab but had to change for school reasons. We found all three using I only asked our current childminder to have our youngest about 2 months before I went back to work. I also use kiddivouchers, every childminder I've used accepts all childcare vouchers. They save us over £100 per month as we don't pay tax or NI on the salary sacrifice amount (£243) and we both claim them. A lot of childminders have some flexibility in the days toucan use, ring a few and speak to them. And above all, relax! Everythibg will work out in the end smile

HSMMaCM Tue 30-Dec-14 07:40:52

It's worth phoning round some CMs now. Many will know they have spaces in September for a child who is leaving for school. This might mean they would ask for a retainer from September to November. You probably won't be able to sign a contract until you know which four days you need though. I did have a parent book a full time space then drop it to 4 days just before starting. I still took the child on, but it wasn't a great start to the relationship with the parents.

Family information service at your local authority should be able to provide you with a list (as mentioned above).

tiggy2610 Tue 30-Dec-14 07:55:15

Thank you, thank you, thank you! You have all helped to settle some of my panic! smile

I have laid in bed looking at the FIS website and available childcare for the last hour or so and my plan today is go start sending emails to some CMs and asking advice.

It's nice to know the the childcare vouchers DO actually make a difference as I don't know anyone who uses them. I'm hoping my 4 days would be Monday-Thursday so I could work around that and take it from there.

meandjulio Tue 30-Dec-14 19:00:24

Definitely take childcare vouchers, and certainly when I used them it was possible for both partners to get paid in vouchers up to a limit - make sure you use whatever the maximum is.

The only consideration with vouchers is that you are legally paid slightly less while they are going on. This means your pension contributions, if any and if based on percentage contributions, will be slightly less. TBH for most of us this is just not even worth worrying about but sometime in the far future you could look into whether you should make an additional voluntary contribution to your pension.

Writemove Tue 30-Dec-14 19:14:17

Definitely claim childcare vouchers.
If you can, join the scheme now and start banking them.

It will cost you while on enhanced maternity pay but when you go to SMP your employer has to pay the whole cost. That's because they can't legally deduct from SMP. So it's free money!

I had over £1k free vouchers by the time I went back to work.

Stillwishihadabs Tue 30-Dec-14 19:22:49

I sorted it out about 3 months in advance both times. (so when babe is 6 months old). I suggest going to playgroups /sure start places as that is where you will hear of decent cms with spaces coming up.

nannynick Tue 30-Dec-14 19:45:11

Tax Free Childcare scheme starts September 2015. For every 80p you pay Government tops up to £1. Max topup £2000 (so parent paying 8000, Gov paying £2000).
More info on plus awaiting the fine detail as it is being phased in.

bettyboop1970 Tue 30-Dec-14 20:08:59

Your local authority will have a list of registered childminders in your area.

tiggy2610 Tue 30-Dec-14 21:33:45

I never even knew you could start banking child care vouchers already, thanks writemove! We're currently saving money to cover my Mat leave so don't know if we can start banking vouchers already but I'll definitely look into it when I go back to work.

We found out that DH is also eligible for vouchers, it's just good to know they do actually help! Out of curiosity how much salary is sacrificed for how much in vouchers, if someone doesn't mind me asking? Obviously being away from work for 10 months means finances are being monitored quite closely.

Thank you nanny, I had heard that childcare support was coming in but didn't know what or how. I will begin researching! smile

meandjulio Tue 30-Dec-14 21:35:38

It's an exact match, whatever you are paid in vouchers is the amount that your salary drops by, it's a direct salary sacrifice.

Phineyj Tue 30-Dec-14 21:37:01

Vouchers are better value than the new childcare subsidy scheme, at least while you only have one child. There is a comparison somewhere - possibly even on this site.

Phineyj Tue 30-Dec-14 21:39:05

tiggy2610 Tue 30-Dec-14 21:50:15

Thank you all, again! Sorry for the stupid questions, I think lack of sleep and looking at HMRc webpages all day is adding my brain!

tiggy2610 Tue 30-Dec-14 21:51:09

Thank you all, again!
Forgive my lack of brain power today, I think lack of sleep and looking at Government finance pages all day is starting to take a toll hmm

Phineyj Tue 30-Dec-14 21:59:15

I found my employer was poorly informed about childcare vouchers (despite offering them), so I missed out as they wouldn't let me start claiming them until I returned to work after maternity leave. My husband was able to claim them from the baby being born, as were some friends (one even had her vouchers topped up by her employer after she went onto SMT, as they said it was the law that she had to continue receiving the same perks as while working). So do your research so you can correct any misconceptions!

Phineyj Tue 30-Dec-14 22:00:14

SMP that should be!

Writemove Tue 30-Dec-14 22:09:48

You can bank vouchers once your baby is born, although in some cases you need to have registered them at a childcare provider.

Be warned your employer may try to keep the loophole about banking vouchers a secret.

Yes it is a direct salary sacrifice - you sacrifice £243 (lower rate tax payers) and get the tax benefit. But the loophole is if you are on SMP your employer has to pay the WHOLE amount, which means free money for you.

You need to talk to your hr dept when you talk about your mat b1. If you don't mention it then some employers refuse to let you join until you return to work.

I'll dig out a link to explain it better. As it is a loophole you have to word things v carefully.

Greenfizzywater Tue 30-Dec-14 22:10:56

You can get childcare vouchers on mat leave, as soon as you have the child's name/DOB, so by the time they are due to start you have a nice lot saved up to pay deposit etc. Round here, if you want a nursery place when a child is 6-9 months old you have to put their name down when you are about 13 weeks pregnant, so maybe that is what your friends are getting at. I don't think that is the case with childminders.

Writemove Tue 30-Dec-14 22:11:00

The vouchers let you pay for child care before tax. Lower rate payers can opt for £55 a week of your salary to be taken before tax and it means you'll gain £930 a year while higher rate taxpayers can pay £28 a week to gain £630 a year.

Both you and your partner can do it if their employers have a scheme. Details here.

Now for the loophole. If you have registered your baby for a nursery or childminder already sometimes your employer can let you start claiming vouchers now and they are not allowed to deduct any money from your SMP so it means free money. Details here

Then you can bank them for your return

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