How do other working parents manage?(47 Posts)
My two DC are still in nursery but I'm starting to plan childcare for when DC1 starts school next year.
I only work part time but that still means I need before and after school care on three days every week.
The schools we are looking at are not very close to us which I think probably ruled out childminders (?). They don't generally have before and after school clubs, or there is a waiting list. I'm not very keen on having an au pair.
So what do others do? Is it possible to get before and after school nannies? I've found a local nursery that offers wrap around care but they don't cover all the schools we are looking at. Anything I haven't thought of
or should I just give up work?
There will probably be a childminder who is willing to do the journeys to the school. Or you will have to make the journey to a childminder near the school. You'll just have to shop around a bit more to find the right childminder.
How far from the school are you? Is it in the same direction as work?
Are either of you (I'm assuming you have a DP as you way we) able to alter your start or end times? Do you know any other families where you could trade, so they do mornings and you do times on your days off?
Or you can only apply to schools with wrap around care
As your children get older it gets easier because they start doing after school activities and once they're over 8 it's less important for carers to have childcare qualifications.
We're lucky because we live very close to a university and so there are a lot of students looking for part time jobs that fit around their studies. Is there anything like that near you? Some people also use 6th formers from local schools.
An advert on Gumtree or similar will probably get lots of replies, but you'll probably have to sift through a lot of unsuitable ones too, and make sure you take up references etc.
If you're on Facebook try searching something like "looking for a childminder in (your town)". I found a local group on Facebook, posted my requirements and had several offers of help. You could find out if any could help you or has suggestions.
One partner does earlies / the other does lates.
Change your work pattern so it's shorter hours-per-day over more days.
Become self-employed / freelance so you set your own hours.
Find someone who is also part-time, whose hours are the opposite of yours.
Find a childminder.
Get an au pair / mother's help (awful name for it!)
I assume relatives - eg grandparents - are out of the question?
Get pally with a SAH family but make an agreement, don't be woolly about arrangements.
Find a school with wraparound care. This may mean private.
Take the matter into your own hands - jack in your job and start your own wrap-around company.
What will you do about the school holidays? Have you looked at the availability of holiday clubs?
I would day you need to reconsider what school you want to send your kids to.
I know more people who had no choice but to give up work when their children started school than when they were babies. This is awful because many people work through the early years thinking it will get easier. It doesn't. In practical terms it often gets harder.
Why not look at schools closer to home? If you go further afield there are no guarantees you'd get a place anyway. Some nurseries do asc which collects from various schools without their own provision.
I chose a school with wrap around childcare. And I take 3/4 weeks of unpaid leave a year to help cover school holidays.
redspotty you're right, working when mine were babies and toddlers (nursery was 50 weeks a year) was much easier than primary children with school holidays and homework etc. I only work 3 days a week but it's much harder now.
Oh yes I'm only just beginning to realise how relatively easy life is now that they're still in nursery.
The schools we are looking at are private which is why they are not very close. We've done lots of thinking about this (and still not quite resolved the matter): our local state school is 200m away, one form entry and is outstanding, but also has no wrap around care (although local child minders are available).
I guess where we are coming out at the moment is that it is worth paying for private for the smaller class sizes and 'exciting' activities both within and outside the curriculum. But it does leave us with the wrap around problem. Plus we are very 'normal' people who have been saving for a while and I'm a bit apprehensive about having to deal with posh parents / children...
Yes grandparents / family are not nearby.
I think what might work is a nanny for three days who could do school run and after school care as well as some holiday cover. And then some housework during the day while children at school. I think that will cost about as much other after school options particularly if we then assume we don't need a cleaner anymore.
Most private schools offer asc. If those don't, ask the admissions person what others do to cover working hours and the longer holidays.
We ended up shifting our hours around so one of us dropped off, one picked up and grandparents did one day. We drew a complete blank on finding childminders, I went right through the council list. Then the school did start doing wraparound care but it ends at 5.15 which is not late enough for a lot of parents.
I've found if anything it gets harder as they get older, after school activities (other than the main club) end at 4 or 4.15 and are subject to short notice cancellation, homework kicks in as do other extra-curricular activities in the after school period, then there's holidays and INSET days. My oldest is at the awkward age now (11, year 7) where he's too old for most holiday clubs but not old enough to be left at home.
I've found that most people manage on a combination of arrangements, reducing/altering hours, one parent switching to a more local job / work at home, after school club, ad hoc help from other parents and grandparents.
I'm surprised that if private, they don't have wraparound. DS is going to a local independent school and their crèche runs 7.30-8.30 (school starts 8.30) and 3.30-6pm. It costs £2.50 per half hour.
Most schools we looked at recognise that if parents are paying their fees, they have to work!
We only applied to schools we wrap around care for this reason! It did limit the choice of schools though. I'd be surprised if none of the private schools you are considering offer wrap around care.
Childminder near school?
I guess where we are coming out at the moment is that it is worth paying for private for the smaller class sizes and 'exciting' activities both within and outside the curriculum.
You are there 4 days out of 7. I'm sure that you can do enough 'exciting' and enrichment yourself in that time. They don't need 'exciting' 24/7.
Plus we are very 'normal' people who have been saving for a while and I'm a bit apprehensive about having to deal with posh parents / children...
As you said, you are normal. The school will have plenty of parents like you. They won't all be minor aristocracy / Russian oligarchs.
However, it does seem daft to pay for a school that is no more accommodating than the free local state school. Think about what is the best use of your money.
Yes, I'm surprised too the schools tend not to offer wrap around care. But unfortunately that's the position.
My contract is for 29 hours so I was thinking of working 10-2 two days (and do drop off and pick up), but then 9-5 the remaining days where I would need help. I'm aware that adds up to 32 but I think I need to build in a little time for lunch. Things are quite informal at work but I want to be 'responsible' with the freedom I am given if you see what I mean. Unfortunately DH is often away during the week and works long hours so can't help, or at least not commit to specific days.
Thanks everyone for the tips. The option I hadn't considered was working together with another family (either a SAHP or someone who works opposite days). But it'll be hard to put that in place before school starts and I meet them.... Although I could try local Facebook groups, or maybe the school once we've decided and committed to a place.
Cross post senua.
Yes we still need to think through the final school decision. That's almost a thread in itself although I think there are plenty of "is it worth paying for private" threads for me to peruse
Oh, go on. Start another one. It must be at least a week since the last one.
I'm also surprised that the school doesn't have after school care arrangements. It would also make me feel more wary as to the likely nature of other families at the school - we've fitted in fine at the schools our children have attended, but they had strong aftercare arrangements and a LOT of working parents (one in particular).
Definitely talk to the school about what their working parents are doing for collection / after care etc.
I'd be a bit wary of 10-2 days in terms of productivity, I normally work approx 9-2.30 and on days where I come in later than that for some reason I find by the time I've got my brain in gear, read my emails etc, it's nearly lunchtime then after lunch I've got one eye on the clock. I regularly do more than my contracted hours to overcome this lack of efficiency, the same as you I am very conscious of wanting to be responsible as I am very grateful for the flexibility.
It is really hard work, and having children towards the end of KS2 now I would say that the thing that has worked out best for us - and wish we'd done sooner - has been employing a sixth former to help us out.
We have had nannies before, but a sixth former was better as more flexible, less reliant on the income and for older children could even help with homework as could relate to the work (especially the maths).
We went for an older sixth former, she was with us 18 and 19 but she was brilliant and the children loved her and was like an older sister to them. She didn't do before school so we were able to flex our work to start a little later, but she was able to do after school 3 or 4 days a week, even 5.
I would definitely do that again - only downside for us have been the other parents trying to snatch her off us, but that was a learning curve for her to how to deal with nasty pieces of work!
Have you considered/asked to change your working pattern? I worked 4 days but now do the same hours but over 5 days, which means my husband can take the kids to school and I finish at 3pm so do the pickup.
I work 9:30-14:30, so I can do the morning drop off and afternoon pick up. I think one option is to change your contract so you can do all the school run, or ask to work at home for a few hours a week. As long as you manage to finish same amount of work, your company may agree with that.
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