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Calling all childminders - I NEED URGENT ADVICE

(15 Posts)
denmoll Mon 03-Sep-07 20:58:23

Hi there, I am a newly registered childminder and have been eagerly awaiting my first mindee job.

I have been contacted by someone who initally asked for care only on Mon, Wed and Friday afternoons - picking up from a local school at 12.30 and then looking after their son all afternoon only on those three afternoons - this to be on a 2 week on/2 week off rota.

Fantastic me thinks - especially when the pick up is from the school my son will eventually be going to.

HOWEVER, she rang tonight to say that her and her husband would like to use my services - commencing THIS THURSDAY and could she come round tomorrow to sort out paperwork etc. I did say that I would need a little time to sort out contracts and things for her to go through with her husband, and Wednesday would be best and I would ring her to confirm.

Then she mentioned that ACTUALLY - they need care (still on a 2 week on 2 week off basis) as before but including all day Tuesday and all day Thursday as well.

She knows I am away on holiday soon for 2 weeks.

I am thinking more about this - and my own son starts pre school two mornings a week from next week - and the way she wants it to start would mean me having her son while I try and settle my own son into pre school on his first day. I am concerned about timing here as I dont want my son to think I am dumping him in favour of a newer model so to speak - my son is quite a sensitive child and since birth has literally been my shadow - never having been left with anyone else apart from the odd hour here and there - and by that I mean on really rare occasions.

really not ideal in my mind.

so what is best.

knowing she is obviously KEEN to use me

do I say that, having thought about it - yes, I would love to do the job, subject to her child having a settling in period with me - BUT that because of my son starting school and then our holiday, I would like to start when I return from holiday, i.e., beginning of October?

all views urgently required please

thanks in advance, M

Nat1H Mon 03-Sep-07 21:17:55

Hi there. I am not a childminder, but am very good friends with our old one. I know that she would not entertain picking up another child from school 3 days a week at lunchtime. What if you have other children who start with you? Just wondering when you will manage to feed them? I also know that she wouldn't take them on a 2 week rota either. This makes it very difficult when trying to organise care for other children. You could, potentially be left with gaps every 2 weeks that you cannot fill. Of course, not being a childminder myself, I cannot advise you properly, but looking at it from a business point of view, I would imagine that this kind of timetable is pretty difficult to manage. If you do decide to take this child, I would tell the mum that you can only start after your holiday. The last thing you want to do is mess the child around. How confusing would it be for the child to spend time with you, stay with his mum for 2 weeks, then come back to you. I don't think I would like my own child to do this, never mind somebody elses.
Hope I have helped hmm

kidsrus Mon 03-Sep-07 21:33:12

am i right in guessing that it is a six week transition period for school reception class and your services will not be required mid october?

MaureenMLove Mon 03-Sep-07 21:50:39

I'm a childminder. First of all I would suggest starting in October. You need to get your lo sorted first and also get your holiday out ofthe way.
Personally, I like part timers. In fact all 8 of my mindees are! I've been doing it 11 years and I started off with 2 full timers and tbh, it got monotinous. (This is obviously only a personal view). Gradually I managed to somehow end up with all parttimers and it works for me. However, you need to think carefully if its what you want. When you say collect at lunch time, do you mean after nursery? As that shift will only last for a year and then you'll loose them to school all day. If you haven't had much luck getting work yet, I'd give it a go. As long as you set a firm trial period.

denmoll Mon 03-Sep-07 22:19:41

filling in the gaps here:

part time, three afternoons a week really does suit me and works around my sons - without him feeling I am taking on someone else in his place.

I only intend to do this part time - ever - as for me thats the easiest way to strike a balance between working and home life and at the moment I am fortunate enough to be fully supported financially by my husband.

my husband thinks that I am putting in blocks and am not committed in any way to childminding - but in reality (I FEEL) part time child minding will be beneficial to our son who is in all intents and purposes an only child (I have 2 step kids both in their 20s who live away from us and we only see occasionally these days, due to distance, not relationship). part time minding would give our son a surrogate sibling some of hte time (apart from his usual play dates) and hopefully mean he wont feel lonely too much.

REALLY though, how can settle in our son at pre school when I am walking away with a 'strange' child and leaving my son at school - poor love will feel so abandonded - why on earth should I make what will inevitably be a difficult time for him, worse?

actually, I think I've answered my own question here. by offering mon, wed and fri afternoons to me - that is ideal - the mother has now (intentionally or not, I dont know), just landed the bombshell that its two full days inbetween also, and at very VERY short notice. Perhaps her first choice has declined and hence the short notice. these things happen, I know. but then, she's not asked for references in any way at all, and yet is willing to leave her son with me (in HIS first week of school also I might add) for a full day and a half - no - too many question marks in my head here. I am offering a business, I am my own boss and it has to be right for me and my son. if its not then wait for something else? or am I cutting off my nose to spite my face?

help ?

Katymac Mon 03-Sep-07 22:23:48

Denmoll - as an ecperienced C/Mer I would think very carefully about taking a child the week they start school

I would also think carefully about starting a new child the week a child I care for starts school (esp if I take new child home leaving existing child at school) & I am only talking about a child I mind - not my child

I think the mum is desparate and you shouldn't feel 'pushed' into a hasty decision

gooseegg Mon 03-Sep-07 22:32:02

Does your son have to go to pre-school?
If he is so sensitive that he will find it hard to start with why are you sending him right now? If he was mine I might consider keep him at home for a while longer.
But if it's only for two mornings a week, you are sure it's a good place, and you think he would benefit from it then I'm sure he would be fine very quickly.
In my experience by far the hardest thing about childminding was having my own son and coping with his needs and behaviours alongside those of the minded children - pre-school or no pre-school.
It only got easy once he started school last Jan.
I would suggest offering a preferential start date of the beginning of October and be prepared to judge by the parents' answer whether or not you might reasonably bend to start earlier to suit them.

denmoll Mon 03-Sep-07 22:45:08

Katymac - thanks honey, you've hit it very much on the nose here - I do feel 'pushed'.

Gooseegg - well, my son is 2 years 9 months old now and I feel he is 'ready' for pre school. We;ve been going to a toddler group which is associated to the pre school since he was 9 months old and basically he will therefore know about 90% of his class mates - quite a good starting position I feel - as obviously he will also see 'familiar' 'other mothers' there too and our neighbours son starts upping his days from 2 mornings to 3 mornings a week and on fri mornings he will be in a class with my neighbours son who my son knows really REALLY well. A very good start.

All in all, I DO feel somewhat cornered here - not a good starting position for my first mindee is it?

I think I will ring her back and open heartedly tell her my concerns about son starting school and holiday and also her son and his settling in period at school. I'll suggest a settling in period of the previously-agreed 3 afternoons a week (to commence after my holiday) and then stepping it up to the other 2 days full time after the settling in period. She'll either be happy with that or not.

actually, I wont 'suggest' I will outline what I am prepared to take on here.

mothermirabelle Mon 03-Sep-07 22:50:10

I'm also a CM. Haven't been doing it as long as Maureen but agree with her in that its perhaps worth giving a go if you haven't had any other enquiries....just to get some experience under your belt. Having said that if you feel concerned about this particular enquiry but confident about getting interest from other families then don't take this one on.
If you do decide to go with this family I think you should stick to your guns re your start date and holiday. I think its perfectly reasonable for you to agree to take on the care of their son but to be quite open about the fact you can't start this week. You want to get to know the family a little better first, perhaps have the child come to see you for a couple of short visits etc etc. If mum really likes you she will understand and wait for you.
On another note - as mum is wanting to use you on a rota basis but you won't necessarily be able to fill the slots that this little boy doesn't come for, could you charge mum full days for those days he's only with you in the afternoons? Or at least a retainer of some sort for the morning period? This does mean mum paying for a full time place (you say she also wants you to have him full days on Tues and Thurs) but at the end of the day its unlikely you'll be able to fill those slots when he doesn't come do you so I think you're entitled to at least ask for some sort of retainer - what do other mumsnetters think? If the family like you they may be willing to pay for a full time place and this would at least get around any concerns about whether you could fill the rest of the time when this little boy is not with you.
Tell us a bit more about the 12.30 pick up. You say this little boy goes to the school your son will eventually go to...is this the preschool you mention or a primary school? If primary school why the 12.30 pick up? Is he on half days? If this is the case surely the half day will only last for a month or so?
Only concern I would have is what Nat1H mentions earlier on in this thread. Picking up at 12.30 could disrupt other children you have with you - after all it is bang in the middle of lunch time. If you take on some other very young mindees its likely they'll want to be eating around this time...or starting an afternoon nap so to be carting them off to school to do a pick up may not be ideal.

denmoll Tue 04-Sep-07 08:06:41

... bump for the morning crowd - please ....

S88AHG Tue 04-Sep-07 08:22:04

You have to do what suits you not the children you care for. It is you and yourchildren that suffer if you compromise and do something you dont want to. I would do what you said three afternoons after holiday and then up it to 2 full days after settling in. If parents dont like it its their loss, as you say financially its not a problem what you do so you must do whats right for you otherwise you may start to resent the child and parents. It is your business and you run it how you want, if parents dont like it thats their choice. Information given from past excpereince of doing what I didnt want to for mindees!!!!! Always put yourself and family first. As some of the others said ask her for at least a retainer for the 2 weeks you wont have him too. Good luck with it!

Squiffy Tue 04-Sep-07 10:32:35

You should definately decide what you are willing to do and stick with it and resist being pushed...

But do be nice about it. Speaking as a mum I reckon she may have taken rather a shine to you and decided that you are probably a much better alternative to whatever care she had set in place for Tuesdays/Thursdays, and that could be the driver behind this - if you don't set out that this isn't good for you how is she to know that it is an inconvenience?

Mumpbump Tue 04-Sep-07 10:40:45

Not a childminder, but I think you should just tell her that you already have a holiday booked and can't start until after then. It is, as you say, VERY short notice and you shouldn't inconvenience yourself to fit in with her... As a working mother, I would expect to sort out childcare well in advance and if I left it to the last minute and was left with a couple of weeks without any cover, well, that's my fault and I would have to take the time of work or find alternative temporary childcare.

kathcariad Tue 04-Sep-07 21:54:03

denmoll , when you have been in this business for a while , if you are as good as you appear to be at considering each child's individual needs , you will be choosing the families you wish to work with and tactfully declining the rest.Your initial meetings will be more to interview the parents/carers than the child themselves.
If you have not already tackled this with your prospective clients , may I suggest that you advise them that you require a settling in period to get to know the child's needs and therefore ensure you are properly equipped to cater for their needs.
This could be a useful delay tactic for you , but is also good practice as it is extremely useful.Also don't forget that if you are in loco parentis while the child is at a playgroup/nursery then you should be charging a fee for this time.
Also a sudden change in childcare should raise child protection alarm bells.hope this helps.

inlovewithjose Tue 04-Sep-07 22:02:09

hi d, yes you say exactly that. if she wants you she will go along with your plans. remember c/m is a fantastic job, but it is a job, and your child comes first. i have been c/m for 5 years and always take the first week of new term off so i can settle my own son. no one has ever had a problem. good luck x

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