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Any bright ideas? Horrible working hours/massive childcare costs...

(24 Posts)
MartinPlattRGN Fri 16-Aug-13 12:25:54


My children are now 3 and 1.5 and I'm keen to get back to work.

I am a nurse. I am REALLY struggling. I live within travelling distance of two huge NHS trusts and they only have 24/7 rotation work patterns for Band 5s, which is fair enough. I could potentially get a part-time contract but I have been told there is no chance of fixed days. it's long days which is great from a lifestyle point of view, but...I will need to work full time as we will have to pay for full-time childcare for 2 children even though some weeks I will only need it for one day sad so I will be working full-time, horrible shifts, DH potentially on his own with them for full weekends after working all week, and we won't be any better off as all the extra money will get swallowed by nursery fees.

Any bright ideas? I will look for community jobs that at least would let me work more regular hours but they are scarce and generally they want more experience than I have. There isn't enough agency work to rely on it, and again childcare would be a problem as I'd have to pay for it even if I couldn't get work. ARGH why is it so bloody difficult? Do they only want newly qualified 21 year olds with no commitments outside work? Anyone with any caring responsibilities is screwed really.

I can't wait to go back untill they start school or my registration will lapse!

How quickly things change, whatever happened to Sunday and Monday nights (traditional shift pattern for people with little kids)!

MartinPlattRGN Fri 16-Aug-13 12:28:02

d'oh sorry what I'm asking is does anyone have any ideas how I can make the childcare work? No family to do it and I'm reluctant to use a CM as they are not reliable enough, I probably won't have much say over what annual leave I get and I can't not go to work on a whim if CM is sick or whatever, it's bad enough if you're sick/your child is sick, so it's got to be nursery really.

Thurlow Fri 16-Aug-13 12:35:23

It might be worth talking to CMs. They really aren't unreliable, and can be very flexible. DP does shift work and our CM is very flexible about this, she understands that occasionally she has DC for an extra few hours at last minute notice if DP is caught up. Also a lot of CMs have back up agreements with other CMs for their illnesses and holidays.

adagio Fri 16-Aug-13 12:35:24

No experience of this I am sorry, but is it possible to contact local union reps for each of the trusts and try and do some fishing for what other people do? - is there perhaps more flexibility/regularity once you are 'in' which isn't advertised at time of appointment? Can you buddy up with others in the same boat and swap to fit the childcare or something like that?

Agree it sounds pants though.

MartinPlattRGN Fri 16-Aug-13 12:43:31

No swapping any more thanks to E rostering!

I really don't want to use CM, I have friends who have so much trouble because of them - have to take holiday when they do etc. I know some have backup arrangements but we only have one car and DH has to get to work so can't be walking all over the place to drop off kids...Also my sister used to be a CM and I just don't really like the idea, she was great but a lot of the others she knew were not and I always think if one person at a nursery is a bit crap the others mitigate it, not so with CM!

I think we'll just have to suck it up sad I wish I could just be a sahm forever but I do need to start earning again at some point even if I do work for free till they are both in school!

insancerre Fri 16-Aug-13 12:56:29

does the hospital have a nursery?
if they do they will be used to shift patterns and might be able to fit in with your needs rather than you paying for what you don't need
it is always worth asking
also ask the staff already employed with children what childcare arrnagemants they have

Mandy21 Fri 16-Aug-13 13:05:05

Have you contacted any local nurseries to see if there is any flexibility in their fees? I know its unlikely but I had a friend who used a nursery but only every other week (her mother looked after the children the other week) and they agreed some sort of compromise on fees (i.e. she didn't have to pay for a full time place). Not sure how to approach it, but said you'd pay for 20 days over the month and could use them as you needed them? I know it sounds odd but some nurseries might be accommodating?

DontmindifIdo Fri 16-Aug-13 13:06:18

Agree that a child minder is really your only option. Ask around for recommendations. Also worth looking for other nursing options, are there any private hospitals in your area? They might be more accommodating. Also private schools, particularly boarding schools often have part time nurses. Any posh private care homes near by? You have nothing to lose by sending a cv to them.

Otherwise, perhaps nursing isn't for you, once your dcs are at school your childcare issues wont go away, you'll still need wrap around care and often your dh will be alone with them all weekend. Could you look at other jobs that a background as a nurse would be a bonus? Something like health visitor or nursery work (ESP if it gets you a free or discounted place for your dc)

BikeRunSki Fri 16-Aug-13 13:08:00

Have you spoken to any childcare providers? My DC's nursery has several children of nurses and paramedics (also airline cabin crew) with irregular working patterns and i they only ask for 2 weeks' notice of the days the family needs. They then work their staff holidays/days off/visits for new children/extra days for other parents around that.

I think they charge a tiny bit more per day for irregular days, but really not that much, maybe £5 more.

I think a nursey would have more capacity to absorb irregular work patterns than a CM.

KittyMcAllister Fri 16-Aug-13 13:16:07

I'm a nurse and the Trust I work at has e-rostering, but having a "flexible working pattern" is very common. For example, I work 10 shifts a month and use nursery for 2 fixed days a week, beyond this I can also be flexible at weekends. Work know my available days and this is programmed into the e-roster. Lots of colleagues do the same. Are you sure part-time work isn't an option?

Forester Fri 16-Aug-13 13:23:48

How much notice of your roster do you get? My DH works shifts so sometimes around during the week while I'm at work. When we were looking at nurseries (admittedly just with one child) we asked whether they could be flexible. One said no - you needed to be committed to days of the week but the other said yes as long as we gave them notice at least two weeks in advance. Guess which one we went with!

forevergreek Fri 16-Aug-13 13:34:00

What about a nanny? One with own child might be willing to do odd shifts. If its say always 7 days out of 14 you might be able to pay a fixed rate, but a bit more that average to accomadate inconvenience.

A live in nanny woul be easiest if you have space ( If you have 3 bed I would def put the children in together to make space). A nanny is also per family not per child so probably cheaper

northernlurker Fri 16-Aug-13 13:47:45

E-rostering has made things very hard for parents. At least your trust offers long days. Mine stopped which made things impossible for parents wanting to work full time - they had to do 5 shifts rather than 3-4. Are there any research nurse posts? Areas like outpatients, renal, day unit, endoscopy may also be better hours.

vitaminC Fri 16-Aug-13 13:54:29

I was also going to suggest a live-in nanny if you can. Otherwise how about nanny-sharing with a colleague? Surely there must be others in the same boat as you?

With a nanny share, you could employ her full-time, alternating houses and she would have whichever children you needed her to have - yours, you friend's or both... Each family would pay 50% of the full-time salary, assuming overall total monthly hours were similar (or work out a pro-rata arrangement). I'm sure it would work out cheaper than daycare - and far more flexible!

dueanamechange Sat 17-Aug-13 08:28:26

Feel you pain. I have 2 children, oldest just turned 4 and about to start reception and the youngest is 1.5. I am in London so day rate at a nursery for the youngest is approx £60 and I have been told the going rate for a childminder for wraparound care is £10 morning and £20 afternoon so £30 a day. Salary pre children was £30K. I might make a little bit going back to work, but I can imagine drop offs, being back in time for pick up, looking after kids when sick etc. could be really stressful. No family around to help.

I have just applied for a job at Waitrose, about to have 2nd interview, I would be working one evening and a Saturday. On not much more than minimum wage, but no childcare costs, I think I will take home as much as if I were working fulltime on £30K. Compromise is losing 1 family day at the weekend. When both kids are in school full time I will reassess. Lets hope it all tuns out ok, I also worry about my DH doing a full days childcare after a week at work, but it is only 1 day, I think he will cope.

Difficult for you, I know you have said not enough agency work to rely on, but are you actually better off having sporadic agency work when your partner is around for childcare than actually going back full time right now? The only nurse I know with office hours is a practise nurse, which I understand those jobs are rare as hens teeth as people don't want to leave those positions. While doing agency work you could keep your eyes out for an office hours nursing position.

scarlettsmummy2 Sat 17-Aug-13 08:44:11

I would think about changing job slightly. For example- I run a project supporting loan parents and several of our teen parent workers were previously nurses.

NeverQuiteSure Sat 17-Aug-13 08:53:18

Another one suggesting a nanny.

The big advantage of a nanny is that he/she will look after the children when they are poorly. Yes, you'll have to take time off when he/she is poorly, but he/she will have a lot less sick days than 2 small children will (especially 2 small children mixing with other small children all day in a nursery)

If you are prepared to take on someone with limited experience (e.g. A couple of years nursery experience plus 1 year of sole charge nannying maybe) and consider live in it can be quite cheap.

Babyroobs Sat 17-Aug-13 15:28:48

Hi - I am a nurse and have managed to continue working with 4 dc's, although not at band 5. When my dc's were pre- school age, I used a flexible childminder so if I had been on a nightshift they would go to her for a few hours in the morning, or if on a late shift for a few hours in the afternoon until dh could finish at 5pm. I think if you go part time, once childcare costs are considered you probably wouldn't be much worse off than fulltime. I work for the NHS and quite a few of my coleauges seem to be able to negotiate one set shift per week, could that be an option for you?

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sun 18-Aug-13 16:53:21

I know someone who was a care worker who put her daughter in a nursery attachd to a gym. Because people were using it for one offs she didn't need to have set days which reduced the cost. It was more expensive on a per day basis but 3 days * £50 is a lot less than 5 days *'£40.

34DD Sun 18-Aug-13 22:11:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nextphase Sun 18-Aug-13 22:25:24

How much notice do you get of your shifts?

There are two nurserys round us that will, if you commit to one fixed day a week, will add in additional days when the shift patterns come out.
Also at least one nursery who used to do this, and then stopped.

Is there any way DH's work could be flexible which would help in any way?

A neighbor has taken a 6 month placement to keep her registration going til the kids are at school. She got a nanny for the 6 months, and basically made no money, but has kept her registration going for another 2 years.

MartinPlattRGN Wed 21-Aug-13 22:13:12

Some good ideas, thanks! Nanny isn't an option, we've only got 2 bedrooms and no way can I cope with the stress of being an employer! We are oop north so nursery maybe cheaper as a percentage of wages than in other places. Will look into flexible places, apparently I need a nursery near a police station!

Think we are gonna suck it up for a few months so that I've got some decent recent experience (if I can get a job! Ah it's such fun) and then if it's horrible/I can't negotiate set days or days off at least, I will leave and do agency. DS starts school next year so might be best anyway to cover holidays.

MartinPlattRGN Wed 21-Aug-13 22:16:02

Oh and no way am I giving up nursing, after three years of purgatory to qualify and three years of horrible bosses I'm not going to let go that easily! smile also love the patients and have missed it while I've been sahming.

fuckwittery Wed 21-Aug-13 22:20:18

We used CMs with shift work successfully for 6 years. I knew DH's days weeks in advance, and because each shift was a fairly long day, the CMs were happy to have a minimum of say three long days a week, or a minimum monthly payment, taking up a full space but letting them know which days a few weeks in advance.

Only one CM ever let me down at all, the last CM I had worked with another one they covered each other's holidays and in theory illness but illness never happened. They lived round the corner from each other but I think she only had to cover once for holiday. It would be worth asking a CM how much time she has had off in illness in the last 3 years.

The holiday thing is a bit of a pain, taking holiday when they do, but we were given the holiday dates a year in advance - one week was Xmas when I would be off anyway, and I was happy to take a week in Easter hols and summer hols at the same time as the CM. We had no family help except MIL who has to travel 4 hours to help us out, but she did arrange to come down to cover holiday with enough notice.

I would definitely not rule it out without speaking to some CMs. I loved all my CMs, wouldn't go with a crap one (regarding you thinking at least there will be some good nursery workers to balance out crap ones at a nursery).

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