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Is becoming a childminder a good work option for a single parent?

(15 Posts)
Yurtgirl Thu 26-Feb-09 13:59:55

Hello all

I would like to to ask a question if I may?

I am a single parent thinking about returning to work

Is childminding a good worthwhile option? Is all the paperwork and hoops the govt insist you jump through worth all the effort? Will it provide a reliable income given that I wouldnt have another income coming in (from a partner or childmaintenance etc)?

Thanks in advance!

nannynick Thu 26-Feb-09 14:08:33

Those questions are impossible to answer, as it depends on your feelings.
The income can fluctulate, it isn't like working for an organisation where you get a monthly wage.
If you need a steady income then its probably not the best of jobs. But if you love working with children, can happily have 6 children rampaging around your home and not get stressed, then its a job you may love doing.

CrackerNut Thu 26-Feb-09 14:10:02

I recently gave this serious consideration but I can't see how it would work wrt to stuff like housing benefit and things because your income would be pretty irregular.

Yurtgirl Thu 26-Feb-09 14:13:18

Thankyou for your responses both

I suppose I should have added to the post - assuming I can work well with children, enjoy their company etc - which I do

We live in a small rural town so demand is not l likely to be high - good supply of local nurseries too.

I am worrying at how it would work out financially as it doesnt seem reliable.

Also all the paperwork seems as bad as it is for teachers

JenniPenni Thu 26-Feb-09 14:18:36

'I am worrying at how it would work out financially as it doesnt seem reliable.

Also all the paperwork seems as bad as it is for teachers '

It can be very reliable, mine is. But when you have your own business, no matter what it is, there is always a level of risk.

We do the same paperwork as teachers... many of us are as/higher qualified than teachers.

Having said that, many CMs aren't as qualified/qualified at all (are mums like yourself who have a child and would like to stay home with them, but need to earn an income too..)... there are loads of courses we have to go on/many are optional. There is a lot involved in CMing...

Yurtgirl Thu 26-Feb-09 14:21:04

I have a degree but cant decide whats best overall go out to work or work from home somehow.

As my ds has issues with life and school working from home seems more flexible but I dont know how to make it sufficiently profitable.

ayla99 Fri 27-Feb-09 09:20:04

Income is far from reliable. sad I've cared for 70 children in 8 years - people have moved house/been made redundant/changed jobs/changed schools and only one family has ever given me more than the 4 weeks notice specified in the contract. Every prediction/budget I work out has to be changed within a few days - someone gives notice or changes hours. (NB they're not leaving in droves cos I'm crap - I've got tonnes of lovely comments on written references and I get lots of enquiries through personal recommendation).

While the POTENTIAL for earning good money is there, in reality its difficult to fill all your vacancies for very long. All my contracts have been part-time, I've had about 4 enquiries for full timers IN TOTAL! Its near impossible to fill in the remaining hours once you've taken on a part timer. Some childminders boost their income with extras - overnight service, babysitting, providing packed lunches (nb I find meals usually make a loss). Some have separate services like ironing. Some have part time jobs on checkouts or shelf filling to make ends meet.

There may be times you have to close and won't earn - eg, when you or your child is sick, if you have to go to a funeral or you need to see your child's teacher without your mindees.

Suggest you go on a pre-registration briefing to find out all the ins & outs and find out how many cms already in your area and how busy they are.

nomoreamover Fri 27-Feb-09 09:45:33

Ok I have done CMing as a single parent and as a married woman. IME its better doign it as a single parent than it is as a married one.

Here's why:

Your single parent advisor at local job centre will be very keyed up on what you have to do and when. Any income you earn is divided by 3 and therefore two thirds of it is disregarded. My lone parent advisor told me at the time that CMing was the best bar none career choice for a single parent with the right aptitude for the job. You will get maximum tax credits on account of working 30 hours a week or more and because the income they will use for your entitlement will be based on your net profit not your gross income.

With regards housing benefit etc - they will also disregard two thrids of your income and you will probably find most of the time you get full rent paid also.

The sad fact is CMing is a fantastic job for a single parent not so much for a married one. Thats my personal experience of it anyway - and of course I am speaking only of financial issues here....the personal and emotional ones I cannot advise you on - thats your call

Yurtgirl Fri 27-Feb-09 22:50:24

Wow alya99 and nomoreamover - those too posts exactly answer all my questions!

Alya99 - Your concerns mirror what a friend of mine said to me - that parents are unreliable and that its difficult to fill week with clients

Nomoreamover - Your post is inspiring me to go for it, although I still have some concerns - pension being one!
You are home edding arent you? Have you done both simultaneously? Was it crazy or ok?

I ask because one of the reasons I am considering CM is because we are also considering HE - as a single parent CM might be a way to solve the whole fiance problem once dd reaches 7

Another Q - if the client level and therefore income fluctuates, which it inevitably will how does that effect tax credits and housing benefit?

Chatkins Fri 27-Feb-09 23:07:00

I'm married, but we are in receipt of tax credits and housing benefit, and have found being a cm has been good, in regards to this. The council ask to see my accounts every 6 months and work out an average wage based on that, so our housing payments will go up or down depending on the previous six months.
so in theory, if I lose work, I do not lose out too much financially.

It is unreliable - especially at the moment, I know many cms who are losing mindees, as the parents lose work.

However, it can work both ways. You can have very busy,profitable times which make up for the slower times. I think the longer you are doing it, the more word of mouth you build up. Lots of my current mindees have come about due to reccommendations from others. Of course this is impossible when you are new, and when I first started out I found I was often over looked for work for more experienced cms.

You just have to hang in there, i am now busier than ever. I would also say, don't always turn down the part-time work, the 'bits and bobs' they are sometimes called. You never know what they can turn into and you don't know how long you will have to wait for full-timers to come along. I had a two hour a week job that has now increased to five hours a week, and a four hour job that is now thirteen hours. If I had turned down those two jobs initially I would have lost 18 hours !

You have to make sure you get the balance right. Take on too much work that doesn't suit your dc, and your home-life will suffer, and stress will quickly creep in. I made the decision long ago not to take on any kids older than mine. You also get a gut feeling as to what parents and kids will suit you and your family. My dc are quite gentle laidback types, and so are the mindees I have, it has just worked out this way, so they all get on really well.

KatyMac Sat 28-Feb-09 16:55:18

I also think that as a HEing single parent you could mind at weekends which are financially lucrative without it affecting your DC's as dramatically as those of us with children at school

Scarfmaker Sat 28-Feb-09 17:10:06

In the 8 years I've been childminding I've always had a steady and reliable income. I usually take on full-timers and then as they get older there are the pick-ups etc. which take the hours down but then I usually just take on another full-timer.

I think it depends on how much you want to take on (I only have two full-timers at the moment) and they've been with me for 18 motnhs and this provides me with a steady income. Saying that one mum is on maternity leave and is going down to three days until September but I can cope with that.

I could take on extra children after school but I usually turn this down because it's too 'bitty' and I also have three of my own and a small house so you have to weigh up different things.

Also the area you live in - if in a small village you could be very busy or have no work at all.

nomoreamover Sat 28-Feb-09 18:37:17

You don't have to do all your H'edding during the week - you can use the weekends also. DS1 simply rubbed along with the mindees and if I wanted him to do work book stuff thats when I got the others sitting up to do crayons and mark making so he didn't feel lonely! But tbh when there are mindees in the house we stick to being autonomous and do more structured things at the weekend when they ahev all gone.

If yoru income fluctuates you simply ring tax credits with each change (they are SO easy to deal with) and also with HB you just need to do exactly the same but in writing - so jot down your income changes on a sheet opf paper and stick it in the post - they then alter your benefit accordingly.

To be honest tho it won't make that much of a difference until your business is well and truely established and that can take 6 months to a year. Honestly - they are used to dealing with CMs - they will hold your hand through each change you need to make.

As for it being unreliable - even if you only make £20 a week for ages - you will still be better off than you would on Income support etc because of the tax creditys - trust me they are embarrassingly high for Single mum CMs.........

Yurtgirl Sun 01-Mar-09 12:27:19

Thats what I needed to hear everybody thanks!

I have been already to the pre registration meeting so I now need to dig the stuff out and start sifting through it all.

Hurrah decision made

mogs0 Mon 02-Mar-09 20:25:41

Another single mum CMer here!! The paperwork side of things takes a bit of getting used but, for me, the good far out-weighs the bad (even if my house does look like a branch of Mothercare!!).

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