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Talk to me about flexible childcare

(17 Posts)
Tangoandcreditcards Tue 05-May-15 08:35:57

I realise I'm probably looking for the holy grail, but does anything like this exist?

I am a WOHP, DH is SAHD - but he freelances from home. He's a designer so most of the 'big jobs' he can do out-of-hours; after I get home or at the weekend. However these jobs often require amends or changes at short-notice; sometimes taking a couple of hours during the working day. DS is 15mo and doesn't really nap to allow for this.

DH's work is quite seasonal/sporadic, so there'll normally be a fortnight where he has 2-3 of these 'urgent' jobs and then a couple of weeks sometimes with no work at all. So it doesn't seem worth putting DS into nursery yet, we are hoping for him to start from Sep 2016 at the local state pre-school.

We don't have any family who can help. My parents are 2 hours away (and not inclined to help), MIL would love to help but is full-time carer for FIL who has end-stage dementia.

What DH wants is someone he can call on at about 24 hours notice to do 3-4 hours childminding during the day whilst he works. Are there any agencies that can provide that and how much does it cost? I'm in Surrey if it helps. I'm totally clueless and we've just moved here so don't have a network of other parents or anything.

puppy123 Tue 05-May-15 08:38:31

Have a look at, I haven't used them but I think this is exactly the kind of situation they'd work it from what I hear. Or find a few local babysitters you can call on, I've had success with nannies who work part time and are open to work on the 'other' days. Good luck!

YonicScrewdriver Tue 05-May-15 08:43:42

Emergency nanny services will probably cover it also.

Heels99 Tue 05-May-15 08:46:27

Thing is, it may be a different person each time via an agency I.e whoever is free at 24 hours notice.
Wonder if a local childminder may be better or a local retired grandma type person?

YonicScrewdriver Tue 05-May-15 09:00:30

It's very unlikely that the same person will be available at 24 h notice for any random day of the week, Heels. Services will be more reliable.

evertonmint Tue 05-May-15 09:08:51

I work a bit like this, freelance with very variable hours, from zero to maybe 25 hours a week. I have 2 set days childcare a week (3 kids, so mix of school, preschool and childminder!) then can usually add extra in with the CM if necessary on busy weeks. The youngest is 10 months.

Yes, I have downtime where it's sort of wasted but it is much better for my kids, esp the baby, to have a regular routine I find rather than trying to find childcare at short notice. Also means I don't have to work so many evenings. Unless cost is a huge issue (and you would pay more for emergency/ad hoc care, and risk unsettling your child with a new caree each time, so may not be so different in reality to regular care) then I'd really recommend something more regular, even just one day, or two mornings.

Tangoandcreditcards Tue 05-May-15 09:10:35

Thanks. I've had a look at - that does look like the sort of thing we're after.

Looks like you have to pay a premium booking fee during the day, but that'd be fine. I'll also tell DH to chat to other parents/nannies when he goes to toddler group. (we've literally just moved so they haven't been yet)

I'm also (v early) pregnant. I suppose the emergency nanny service would be more appropriate for when and if I go into labour, but maybe if we've found a couple of regular sitters by then we might have options.

Tangoandcreditcards Tue 05-May-15 09:13:39

Thanks so much everton that does make sense, it's very useful to hear from someone with similar needs, maybe we could look into a couple of days CM too. I'm finding it really difficult to find things out when we don't know anyone at all in the area.

eeyore12 Tue 05-May-15 09:19:41

Hi I am in Surrey near epsom so depending on where you are may be able to help, I am a nanny (and a mum to a 2 1/2 yr old) who works tues to thurs so would be free on a Monday and Friday to help out esp if you didn't mind your little one joining is with any plans we may of already had, also my parents are registered childminders and local to me so they may be able to help out if you needed someone on the other days. If you would like to chat more please feel free to pm me or email me on

yallahabibi Tue 05-May-15 09:26:17

Try . I have used the a couple of ladies off there for very short notice care and sitting .

DearGirl Tue 05-May-15 13:19:52

I'd try what you need is a nanny of school aged children whose got hours during the day free.

OutragedFromLeeds Tue 05-May-15 14:05:31

I think your best bet would be a nanny in the local area.

Asking around at playgroups would be a good idea. You can also look on or put an ad on Gumtree.

I would try and have the nanny look after DS at least a few hours every week and then add more when needed. I think it will be difficult for him to bond with someone he sees regularly for a couple of weeks and then not at all for months and then back again etc. Maybe 5 hours a week as a standing arrangement and then can add in any extra you need.

youplusaupair Tue 05-May-15 16:56:27

Have you thought of inviting an au pair? You could get someone for 25 hours per week (£70 pocket money), she could also help with some cleaning and ironing, if your husband was free to look after your DS.

And when your DH is busy with work, au pairs are always keen to pick up more work for extra pay, but from how it sounds, you should still fit in 25 hours per week.

Au Pairs also babysit twice a week in the evening if you want to go out, no need to pay extra for evening babysitting.

It would mean consistently paying £70 per week, but then you don't have the high charges for emergency nannies.

It really depends on how frequent are your DH's peak times...?

selly24 Tue 05-May-15 19:56:03

It sounds as if you really need someone who can hit the ground running. Using Sitters , especially with only 24hrs notice, which will mean you may not get the best/ your choice of person- if anyone...! I would rely more in some of the top agencies which deal with temp eg O&P Nannies who have an excellent temp desk and people who only do temp in their books.

Maryann1975 Tue 05-May-15 20:32:39

I didn't think au pairs were recommended for under threes?
We aren't in your area, but there is a cm near me who does this kind of ad hoc care. She has two full time children and is happy to fill the third place with very occasional hours to help people out (she doesn't need the money/stress of three little ones full time), so do ask around, she can't be the same not cm in the country doing this.

Tangoandcreditcards Tue 05-May-15 21:31:06

Thanks all. Yes, I thought DS was a little young for an au pair and besides, I don't think live-in is for us (we're mildly anti-social).

I think finding a part-time nanny or cm with some hours to fill might be the best course, regularly for a couple of mornings a week with the potential to ask for extra hours to suit both parties.

I'll look on and DH will do some investigating at toddler group (anti-socialness notwithstanding)

Thanks again

HRHQueenMe Tue 05-May-15 21:49:17

Definitly consider an au pair, there are some highly qualified candidates and dont listen to all the negativity on here. If you recruit the right person, ensure they have a first aid course under their belt and good common sense, there is nothing to stop you leaving a 15 month old with your au pair for a couple of hours. Interview carefully, choose wisely and you will soon wonder how you managed life without that extra pair of hands!! (In my village we have about 15 aupairs that I know of, 7 have baby charges and are absolutly brilliant. I have no concerns at all there. )
You can also look for a local aupair wanting to earn some extra cash, many of our local au pairs do this as they are free in between school runs.
Finally ask around re childminders as some will do adhoc jobs as they dont fill all their places.

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