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Childminder vs Nursery - anyone feel like talking me through the options please?

(22 Posts)
SkivingViking Fri 28-Aug-09 11:09:55

Wasn't sure which section to post this, so this is a copy of my post in the 'Nurseries' section blush (wanted to ask both groups!)

We're moving from Scandinavia to London in about a month's time. I'm trying to work out the childcare system in the UK, but now my head is spinning and I am confusing myself. (Doesn't take much )

I have a 3 year old and a 1 1/2 year old. They have both been in nursery here since they were about a year old each (they go to the same nursery). They love their nursery here (am actually feeling a bit guilty about taking them away )

I have been ringing around and looking online at various nurseries in London. Seems like prices vary quite a bit (here it is all the same price regardless of whether your child goes to nursery or has a childminder, how often they go etc) and quite a few places don't take under 2's.

I would like to keep the children together, especially as we are moving country and think that at least they will have each other if they go to the same place and just wondered what people's experiences etc are? Would it be easier / better to find a childminder? Is it normal for children over 2 to go to a childminder if we decide that is the best option (here almost no children over 2 1/2 go to a childminder)? What do most people do, or is it more of an even split?

SkivingViking Fri 28-Aug-09 11:10:35

<<feels stupidly proud of doing the link right >>

HarrietTheSpy Fri 28-Aug-09 11:37:30

There are a lot of related threads on this one which talk about the pros and cons in terms of quality of care. This sort of topic can polarise people a bit!

Rather than going in to all that, that I'd just say that any of the options (childminder, nursery, nanny or some combination of them) might work, but I think a starting point may be to ask what are your working arrangements? There's a big difference potentially if you're full or part time or need childcare at odd hours or with a schedule that varies weekly.

Nurseries in the UK are not flexible about start and finish times (if you're late the late fines are high) so if your schedule needs flexibility at either end of the day it might not suit. You might have similar issues with a CM. Both are likely to be open from around 8 to 6-6.30 give or take a half an hour either side.

Plenty of over twos go to CMs and it may be a really great option for two kids, if you can find one in your area of London that has spaces for both of them.

If you need total flexibility re schedule, etc a nanny is your best option.

If cost is a big factor, I suspect a CM will be the least expensive option. You'd probably be looking at at least £900 a month per child full time at a nursery - although mine in central London was £1,500. £1.5K x2 would allow you to hire an experienced nanny. £900 x2, probably not, unless you do live in.

Just some thoughts. I would try some searches on here for old threads to get some more ideas.

SkivingViking Fri 28-Aug-09 11:49:23

Thanks for your reply!

Dh is working full time - but he can be relatively flexible with his working hours. He has already arranged with his boss to work from home on Fridays.

I will actually be studying my Master's. It's a 1 year course, and the contact hours are around 10 hours a week (4 of those being Friday afternoon - don't know the rest of my timetable yet, but it will be fixed once it is there). The rest is self-study, so I can be flexible there as it's just a matter of going to the library.

Depending upon costs etc, I was thinking of something between 3 days and full time.

Will go and trawl the archives for the pros and cons of each

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 28-Aug-09 11:50:51

I dont know any nurseries that wont take under 2's - most only exclude babies under 6 weeks.

Childcare is a personal choice and people view each option differently. Personally i'd never use a childminder but would use a nursery if we had needed to.

Nurseries always have cover in the event of staff hols/sickness, usually a wide range of toys/craft/activities to do, no contract being cancelled if a more financially better offer comes along, lots of children of similar ages and more than one adult present etc.

A nanny is good if you want flexible hours and can be cost effective where there are two children.

HarrietTheSpy Fri 28-Aug-09 11:52:04

It sounds to me that a CM or nursery could well be your best option. Does your university have a nursery by any chance?

HarrietTheSpy Fri 28-Aug-09 11:53:15

Especially if you are planning to study or work from home, you may find that it's a bit difficult with little ones around. (Am trying to do the same with my four year old today as school hasn't started yet!!!)

SkivingViking Fri 28-Aug-09 12:03:55

I have never tried a childminder but I suppose it's also a case of there are 'good ones' and 'bad ones' for both childminders and nurseries? I can see the pros you list for nurseries though - good point.

The university does have a nursery, but it's roughly a 1 year waiting list.

Some of the nurseries I have spoken to seem quite nice on the phone, but of course I really need to go and see them in person. Am feeling very 'stuck' here as not in the UK yet.

If a childminder is ill or needs the day off etc, how much notice do they give usually? (Obviously not 'next week I am going to be ill on Thursday' but I mean do they tell you when you turn up to their house, or would they ring the evening before if they were feeling peaky? What is the normal procedure?)

I think for our needs, a nanny might be a bit much.

I need a cup of coffee and a biscuit

SkivingViking Fri 28-Aug-09 12:08:09

Harriet - have also tried studying with small ones at home - agree, it is a complete nightmare sometimes <<tries not to think too much about chocolate biscuits and a dvd bribes blush >>

I would preferably have say 4 set days to go and study in the library and then home time is properly home time (except for the odd occasions which do always crop up now and then!) Of course one of those 'study days' can easily be a weekend day where Dh can be at home with the children.

Good luck with your studying for today

GreenBlack Fri 28-Aug-09 12:13:56

I've used nurseries and nannies and much prefer nurseries. The arrangements with a nursery are much easier and more straightforward, compared to having to establish a good working relationship with another person at the same time as having to trust them 100% to look after your children.

There is some degree of public openness in a nursery, which you don't necessarily get with CM/nannies. Look for staff turnover though - many nurseries pay very little to their staff (around £12000 even for experienced staff where I used to use) which causes a lot of resentment and makes for unhappy carers. Ideally you want to find a place with good managers that treats the staff well.

You can read ofsted reports for nurseries and CMs at
although of course it's no guarantee.

AvadaKedavra Fri 28-Aug-09 17:23:50

Big move for your DC there, I am thinking that they may feel more comfortable ina nursery environment that is familiar routine for them from hom, rather than a nanny/CM. Some stability/continuity for them?
Good luck with your move

HarrietTheSpy Fri 28-Aug-09 17:33:14

I'm curious - do your little ones speak English? Is it worth it to find out whether the embassy for your country can recommend playgroups, etc that they could spend a bit of time in as well until they are up to speed with the language? Sure they will pick it up super quickly, was just a thought.

SkivingViking Fri 28-Aug-09 20:36:02

Thanks for the ofsted reports link - have looked up the nurseries I have already spoken to on there to match what they say with my (limited!) impressions over the phone!

It is a big move and I do want to try and make it as comfortable as I possibly can for the children.

Is there a big difference between your average nursery routine and your average childminder routine (in your experiences)?

Where they are now is very relaxed and flexible (nowhere near a curriculum like one nursery was telling me about on the phone! Of course they learn stuff and have different themes throughout the year but it is pretty relaxed and 'free').

They both understand English, and dd (3) speaks quite a lot of English although I suspect it isn't as fluent as the average 3 year old in the UK. Ds (1 1/2) has only started coming out with words these last few months and some of those are English. I am half English and have been speaking English with them since birth, we also have dvd's in English and we've been to the UK a few times to visit friends and family, so they have had quite a lot of exposure to the language.

Have already scoured the internet for Danish playgroups etc. There are actually quite a few and once I know my full timetable and we have the childcare issue sorted, then will be able to figure something out for them! (Also looked at The Norwegian School which is in Wimbledon, as they have a nursery group and also take Danish children, but alas they have a waiting list of course!)

raindroprhyme Fri 28-Aug-09 21:01:52

i would persoanally say you to visit any childcare setting before decide.

One thing to consider with a nursey is although both your children will attend same nursey they may not be in the same room.
Different age groups are commonly kept seperate in the nursey setting.
So they may not see each other all day.

This is my experience of working in nurseries.

Good luck with the move, your studies and your child care search.

thebody Sat 29-Aug-09 14:55:00

Welcome to the U.K. and really hope yopu find the child care choice to fit your children.

Am a little bit sad about the slightly negative take on CMs.. I am one and I know I am fab!!!
seems a shame that some posters say they would never use a CM, although I understand it is a huge leap of faith to trust in just one person.

Harriet has it right on the flexibility issue though as I can be picking up my first mindee FROM HOME at 7am and having others picked up as late as 8 on occasion. I also am a great babysitter and offer occasional overnight care because the children know me so well and the parents trust me so thats always a consideration with CMs.

Best of luck..

SkivingViking Tue 01-Sep-09 09:02:00

Thank you for your replies.

(thebody - actually I am cheating a little as I was born in the UK and have lived here before, but I left many years ago and I feel like I'm going to a new country in a way, not least because I have never tried living in the UK with children! First time for dh and the children though.)

Have spent ages trawling through posts about childminders and nurseries, and it does seem a bit pot luck!

I think though, that a childminder might be a way to go for us. Someone else on my other thread suggested that dd (3) could go to the childminder with ds, and then the childminder might take her to her nursery sessions that she's entitled to if that's the case. That seems like a very nice compromise to me. And it seems like childminders have pretty active days and meet up with other groups etc, so they wouldn't be bored / lonely (like I'm sure they would be if I were looking after them full-time blush )

I have a friend who has a (school-age) son living in London, and she used a childminder for him until he was 2, and she said she's help me interview / meet any childminders, so I have a bit of support in that way which is nice!

Childminders do seem very flexible. (Am shocked at the 8pm pick up - that's impressive! Here the nursery closes at 4.45pm and if you haven't picked up your child by then, and they can't get hold of you / anyone on your contact's list on the phone, then your child is handed over to the equivalent of social services until someone can get hold of you and you have to pay a fee)

I also asked this on the other thread, but so far I have been using to look into childcare - does anyone know of, or can recommend, any other good websites for finding a childminder?

Thanks again for all your help - you've been invaluable!

HarrietTheSpy Tue 01-Sep-09 09:22:01

That's the right website.

I think you will find the Body is fairly unique in allowing pick ups that late. It probably depends if the CM has her own young children. I have interviewed about a dozen in our area over the years and they wanted 6 pm pick ups as by that point they were trying to get their own kids dinner and in bed. Which I can understand, it's completely different for a nursery and a nanny.

However, the point is, it doesn't sound like this is going to be a big issue for you, so I think you've made the right call.

SkivingViking Tue 01-Sep-09 09:29:34

Oh yes, even 6pm is a late pick up I think!

I know for certain that I will have a class on Fridays from 2pm to 6pm, but dh has already agreed with his boss that he will work from home on Fridays from midday onwards because of this.

I know my children can sometimes get quite whiney by 6pm if they've had an active day and it's really best for them to be winding down after the day and eating supper, chilling out at home etc - wouldn't be fair on the childminder or the children (in my case - I know all children are different!)

JimJammum Tue 01-Sep-09 21:51:42

I am going to post in favour of CMs as it suited us....our CM has up to 10 kids at her home with 4 adults and children from baby - school age. She doesn't pick up older children from school, so it is like a home-based mini-nursery.

I didn't like the nurseries I looked at as they seemed so big and institutional and smelt of nappies and disinfectant. It may suit you to find something similar for your two as they can be together in home-like surroundings; after all, the move will already be quite something for them to take on. This was, they sleep in a bedroom, eat in a kitchen, waltk to the park, eat home-cooked meals etc etc just as they would do if you were looking after them at home. That's why I chose my CM and have not regretted it.....she is Ofted outstanding and I found her by searching for outstanding providers in my area on the website.

nannynick Tue 01-Sep-09 22:00:38

SkivingViking - use the childcarelink website link you posted earlier to establish the contact details for the Children's Information Service / Families Information Service which covers the area to which you be moving.
Then send them an e-mail... telling them you are currently abroad and asking for the Childminder Vacancy list to be sent via e-mail. Many CIS/FIS will do this.

nannynick Tue 01-Sep-09 22:03:26

Also you could add a message to Mums Wanting Childcare saying the area you will be moving to, never know may find a local mumsnetter childminder.

SkivingViking Wed 02-Sep-09 11:08:05

JimJammum - that sounds exactly the sort of place I would like for my children! (Although I am sure that is quite rare!)

Nannynick - thank you, I will do that. We are just in the process of sorting out a flat to rent. Hopefully today! (Dh is already in London working). As soon as that is sorted, I will post on that thread. Am wary of posting just yet, in case for some reason, something happens and we have to live elsewhere in London (not sure why? Just an irrational fear!)

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