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Best Childcare pair plus?

(5 Posts)
Picklebean Wed 08-Jul-15 08:43:40

Wise women help please! I am trying to find the best and most cost efficient childcare setup for our needs. This might be long but please bear with me...
We are currently abroad, having been here for a year and are returning to UK at Christmas. I start work at beginning of Feb, 3 days per week (but hospital based therefore some long days and nights plus weekends, leaving some weekdays free for 'rest' to keep hours down). The days of the week I work will be fixed. We have 2 DC who will be 4 and 2.5 when we get back. Eldest will start school in January. Both DH and I have early starts needing to leave around 0645 and back around 1830.

Prior to going abroad we had a fabulous nanny 3 days per week which was wonderful but expensive! I often found that we didn't need her as much as she was paid for because of our working patterns but we needed to pay her for her availability if you see what I mean. DC2 is a much different character from DC1 and has thrived over here in a nursery setup so I am quite keen that he stays in some form of 'social' childcare setting.

We think that DMIL will be keen to do 1 day per week for us.

I have thought about it and come up with the following...
option 1: nanny 2 days per week. Clearly best for wraparound care needs and continuity for both kids. Also addresses school holidays. But pretty expensive.
Option 2: nursery for DC2 2 days per week with a before school and after school nanny. I fear this will be difficult to find and worry that it adds an extra layer of potential breakdown into the mix. Also I don't think it would work out much cheaper than option 1. Also leaves what to do with DC1 during holidays.
Option 3: nursery for DC 2 2 days per week plus an au pair. This would address the beginning and end of the day, be a nice point of continuity of care for the kids, not as expensive and I think a great opportunity for us as a family. We have never had an au pair and I would be really keen to hear from people who have with children of this age. It is something we had decided on for when they are both at school but in reality with nursery he or she wouldn't be in sole charge for a huge amount of time during the week. We live close to a lot of language schools and in a part of the country which seems to be popular with international students so I'm hopeful we would be able to recruit, and we have space.

Before I start seriously looking into Au Pair recruitment I would love some advice from those who have been there before and could tell me if I am barking up the wrong tree completely!

Well done if you have got this far, and thanks!!

Gusthetheatrecat Wed 08-Jul-15 23:19:00

I opened this thread expecting to say, "NO, too much for an au pair" (because that is the way these threads go, usually, with someone who is wanting a 17 year old to look after their 6 month old triplets for a 50 hour week). But actually, I think with two days' nursery for your 2.5 year old, this could work really well for you.
It would be a great au pair role: 2 days, essentially, with pick-ups from nursery and school? You could ask them to do some other helping during the rest of the week, perhaps taking your youngest to the playground whilst your oldest is at school so you can have some free time, or helping to keep the children's rooms tidy, etc.
We are on au pair no. 3 and I have loved all three of ours. It has been lovely having someone else around in our house: positively nice, not at all invasive. My girls positively adored our last au pair and our current one.
A lot does depend on getting the right person. With each person we have recruited, we have looked through application forms via an agency until we found someone we had a good feeling about - it was worth waiting for this, as there were several applications we read and thought, 'Meh'. But our au pairs have all had different qualities and strengths, but we have loved having them, and they have made our family life run so much more smoothly.
The important thing is to remember that it's not like having a nanny. But it sounds like the role you want wouldn't be like that, anyway. Good luck.

Picklebean Wed 08-Jul-15 23:26:47

Thanks Gus that's really helpful, interesting that you said it hasn't been at all intrusive as that is my DH's main concern. We have the space certainly but it does feel like a bit of a leap having someone else living with us!

OvertiredandConfused Thu 09-Jul-15 12:25:36

I think an au pair would work well too. We've had them since 2009 and are almost out the other side now. Not overly intrusive. Obviously some downsides but, as long as you go in with eyes open and make sure it works for everyone, I think it would be a great, flexible solution.

citytocountry Thu 09-Jul-15 14:41:04

Yes, I definitely vote au pair too. You're effectively doing exactly what we have done for the last couple of years, and its been great.

Au pair also very handy during holidays/sick days/MIL on holiday etc, and for small "extras" like being in for postman, putting shopping away, and less admin than a nanny. You may do a school nursery or similar, or 15 free hours for DS2 in the future, so would work around that and cut costs even further.

I've recruited au pairs through au pair world (age 23+, ours have to drive) and they are brilliant. So fantastic that our current one is like part of the family and is staying for another year.

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