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Flexible childcare for emergency services: does it exist?

(23 Posts)
CurlyCasper Fri 21-Aug-09 16:55:58

We are about to TTc first child. After maternity I'll have to go back to work full time.

DH is a fireman so off 3/4 days a week. These days change because of the shift pattern and I would therefore be seeking childcare 2/3 days a week, but not the same days of each week IYSWIM.

For example, this week it would have been care Mon & Tues, next week Tues & Wed, next week Wed and Thurs and so on.

Do any childminders cater for this sort of thing?

As the pattern does not change, we could calculate exactly when care is needed weeks, months, even years ahead.

If such care is rare I'll have to seek out a flexible working deal at work.

Your input would be most welcome. Thanks

leonifay Fri 21-Aug-09 17:03:40

the main problem is that if the cm took on your child, she would effectivly be taking on a full time child and wouldnt be able to fill your days off with any other children, loosing her money.

if however you can get say 2 other parents from diffrent watches who want to use the cm on the same basis, so filling the days that your not there then that would work for you all.

alternitivly you can pay a retainer fee for the rest of teh days that you need child care

or you may have to pay full price for the whole week. esentually(sp?) its up to the cm who decides how she charges.

it can be done, you need to find the right cm at a price that suits you, that may be the hard part.

leonifay Fri 21-Aug-09 17:06:52

sorry i dont think i explained that top bit very well,

and wouldnt be able to fill your days off with any other children, as most parents are looking for set days every week.

i just had a thought one of the wifes to my dads friend (hes also a fireman) used to cm a long time ago, but she only cm for shift patterns. it may be worth getting your dh to ask around at work, find out if any one else uses a cm

CurlyCasper Fri 21-Aug-09 17:16:18

Thanks leonifay. I'll get him to ask. Though I think a lot of them are 'local' and have family around unlike us.

I must admit I was kind of hoping it might be common for some CMs to not work to capacity (number of children they are allowed), but then take on that extra child, and be at capacity, for the odd day or two. Probably wishful thinking, I know smile!

Mousey84 Fri 21-Aug-09 17:22:55

It may suit some CMs but I would imagine its rare.

I have one little girl whose mum works shifts, so I have different days each week. some weeks i have her one day, other weeks I have her 4 days..and anything in between. It suits me as I didnt want a full time mindee, just extra few pounds. I charge for 3 days a week and it almost averages out (stays in my favour) even better, the little girl has become my dds best friend and they have been together pretty much every waking hour in the last 3 days (not contracted hours)

naraloo Fri 21-Aug-09 17:23:02

Hi - we have the same problem. DH works as security guard on a rolling shift pattern so never the same days off per week. I suppose I have just resigned myself to paying for full time care when I go back to work - but we can't be the only people with this situation.

Katisha Fri 21-Aug-09 17:26:39

My childminder has done this for me for years. I work in London three days a week but not necessarily the same ones each week. Over the years I have badgered people to get on with the rotas and then given the dates to the CM as far in advance as I can. I have paid slightly over the odds but don't mind as I appreciate that it makes life more awkward for her.

She has generally been able to accomodate last minute changes of plan and it's all worked out pretty well.

Became a lot easier when the boys were school age as she wasn't so constricted about her numbers then.

Katisha Fri 21-Aug-09 17:33:01

Sorry the London bit is entirely irrelevant - just that it's some way from where I actually live and so another factor in choosing this CM was the flexibility on times - I don't get into trouble with nursery staff closing on the dot of 6 or charging extra if the train is delayed and so forth.

danthe4th Fri 21-Aug-09 18:53:31

Most childminders would accomodate you but be expected to pay a higher hourly rate. If it was me I would charge for 3 days a week regardless of you using 2 or 3 and charge £5 per hour instead of my normal £4, or something like that.

AvadaKedavra Fri 21-Aug-09 18:58:45

Sorry, I don't know any of my local CM who would be able to accomodate this pattern without charging for a full time place as you would be effectively taking one up. Or at very least full price for days used and half price retainer for unused days each week.

Katisha Fri 21-Aug-09 19:06:50

Yes danthe4th - that's how it worked for me.
You have to be prepared to throw some money at it really.

missymoo2411 Fri 21-Aug-09 19:28:52

may be u could find a cm that would take say a set paymet every month that benifited the both of u i look after 2 chidren on a shift pattern and charge 300 pound a week this covers every thing but they r with me from 0615 till 6 pm for 3 days over 7 which change from week to week and some time she works weekend so i would only have them 1day a week but maybe 4 the next week hope this helps ...

QueenEagle Fri 21-Aug-09 19:38:20

I'm a PC so had exactly the same issue when seeking a CM. All work on the same principle that I would pay a retainer for the days I didn't use but if I needed them, they were mine. I worked out an arrangement where I paid for 3 full days minimum per week and 2 half days. Saturdays were ad hoc. So even if I used only 2 days in one week, I still paid for the minimum of 3. Expensive but no way around it.

Make sure you claim tax credit child care element - they effectively pay your childcare for you near enough. Well about 80% I think.

Or use childcare vouchers through your employers. You get the childcare voucher deducted, thereby not paying tax on it and then are taxed on the remainder.

atworknotworking Fri 21-Aug-09 19:43:35

I think you may be able to do something like missymoo suggests, ie: average out over the month how many days you will need childcare then work out a price, I have worked a similar way before having a mindee 2 days one week 3 the next etc but never more than so many days per month or charging additional if goes over.

You may also find a cm who keeps a space open we try to do this so as to be flexible with parents or for emergency care, but I work with an assistant so our numbers are higher, I don't like to work to full capacity every day but I don't mind for 2 or 3 days per week.

bigdonna Fri 21-Aug-09 20:38:04

hi im a cm and i could do this as have just taken on an 8 month old whom i have three days a week,i could have him any three days.you need to ring arouns and find out .i only want to do three days so its good for me goodluck

CurlyCasper Sat 22-Aug-09 18:15:35

This is all really helpful - thank you! Once I'm PG I'll start asking around. Also must look more into the working tax credits etc

Thanks! x

LisaD1 Sun 23-Aug-09 22:34:21

Hiya,

I'm a childminder and deliberatley never fill all my spaces (as I have my own children and like to have some time with just my girls) so would be able to offer what you are looking for. I'm sure you will be able to find someone in your area that could help but you may take a while to find them.

Good luck

MrsWeasley Sun 23-Aug-09 22:43:15

I've done this type of thing before, as a CM for nursing parents. Ring around and dont be put off by lots of no's, someone will be willing to work with you.
Good luck

sunnydelight Mon 24-Aug-09 05:55:45

I think it's perfectly possible to find a CM who is happy to do this for one of her mindees, as others have said it might suit someone. I used to work freelance and would only know a month in advance what I had on, my wonderful CM was happy for me to guarantee her a certain number of days per month but she would do more if necessary.

Sometimes she got paid for days I hadn't needed which was a bonus for her and well worth it for me as no other form of childcare would have allowed me to work the way I did. She did use up a f/t space but she didn't want all f/t mindees. I made sure I was always 100% reliable with payment, gave Chistmas presents, remembered her kids' birthdays etc. to show my appreciation for her flexibility. CMs are fab!

CurlyCasper Mon 24-Aug-09 08:55:40

sunny that sounds excellent, and thanks lisa and mrsweasley too for the encouragement. I will ring every CM I can locate when it comes to it!

MissSunny Mon 24-Aug-09 10:51:44

Message withdrawn

MrsBadger Mon 24-Aug-09 11:16:40

nurseries are also worth looking at - the one at our local hospital is open to all comers but specifically caters for doctors, nurses etc with odd shift patterns

NB this may sound obvious but have you checked that DH is ok doing FT childcare on all his days off?
Eg he might have worked Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun then have DD all day Mon, Tues & Weds and go back to work without having a 'weekend' where at least he could share the childcare with you.
Would you consider nursery/CM for one more day than you actually need to give him some time off?

am just trying to anticipate problems before they actually arise smile

CurlyCasper Mon 24-Aug-09 14:09:45

Don't worry MrsB - we have discussed this! We would probably add extra days, but I'd have some hefty load weeks too - particularly when he's on weekends, which comes round again very quickly with the 8-day shift pattern (day, day, night, night, off x 4)

At least with childcare we'd see eachother - as the other option is for me to get flexible hours and essentially go to work whenever he's at home.

Think there's a nursery at our hospital - but we're moving from there soon... continuing to research

Thanks!

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