Probably silly questions from a self-employed mum-to-be(28 Posts)
I am self-employed and will need childcare for two days a week from 5months onwards in order to allow me to do some teaching I do and make client visits. I hope to eventually work 2.5-3days but manage the other 0.5-1 day a week in evenings, nap times and when DH can take the LO.
I am leaning towards nursery because it will be hard enough for me to cover days when my own child is ill without having to worry about days when a childminder is too. Also, I may struggle to cover childminder holidays and cannot always be flexible enough to take my holidays at the same time as theirs if i've committed to a client's project. (There are at least four nurseries in a five minute walk of my house).
One other thing, as well as nurseries not closing for family holidays like cms do, was that I thought they'd either open on bank hols or not charge. But i've just seen a thread that says most DO charge for bank hols.
If I can't earn because i'm looking after my LO but I am ALSO paying for a day nursery then I will not break even that month (it's going to be really tight as it is, but keeping my business going is important if i'm going to have the flexibility of self-employment in the school years).
So, can I just check from those who know, who've been through this before - is this usually the case? And if so, can I just avoid Mondays and choose two other days to minimise this? I think the four christmas/new year bank hols are the only ones that aren't on a monday is that right? (as i'm s-e i'm not that tuned into the idea of bh's).
Thanks for any thoughts/advice...
[maybe I should have posted this on the freelance/s-e board too?]
My nursery is closed on bank holidays and doesn't charge for them. Well worth asking around. Seems odd that a nursery would charge for a service it isn't offering!
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Hi Badguider. I don't think Reetpetit was being nasty. If you only need 2 days a week, and it doesn't matter which 2 days you work, then it's pretty much a no-brainer to not choose a Monday if you are concerned about having to pay for BHs.
However, I think you'd be wrong to write off CMs because of possibility of no cover in case of illness. IME, CMs are much more willing to have children who aren't quite 100%, than Nurseries are - I just don't recognise the scenario so many post of on here about child being sent home / child having to be away for so many days. IME CMs just don't take sick days - they tend to 'soldier on'. IME CMs tend to be able to be more flexible and usually charge for hours used, rather than 1/2 day sessions, so it can work out cheaper, depending of course on what hours you need.
The holiday thing isn't usually an issue for most people - CMs tend to give lots of notice and, again, IME are sometimes prepared to work with you if they can. It might not be an issue if you can move your work around a bit, if you are only working 2 days a week anyway.
My nursery does shut between Christmas and new year. Does charge for bank holidays (and my ds is in on a Monday! Boo!). However they are exceptionally flexible! If I need to swap/add days they are happy to do so, as long as they have availability.
When I've taken ds overseas for 3 months- they allowed me to drop down to 1x half day a week to allow minimum payments, and held the other days for him for when we returned!
But... Yes, the first autumn/ winter we were riddled with illness. He had 6 colds almost in succession. But, c'est la vie (but I'm not self-employed so slightly less arduous.)
Hi badguider, I use a private day nursery for DS, and here is broadly the deal:
Open 51 consecutive weeks of the year (shut down between Christmas and New Year), also closed bank holidays, if there was an epidemic (hasn't happened), and if there was such bad snow that the staff couldn't get in (about two days over the past three winters). There was also one day that the hot water system was shut down for maintenance by the freeholder (with warning) and they had lots of sterilising/food heating/hand washing "Plan Bs" in place but warned they might have to shut early - it didn't happen though.
Cost worked out at about £45/day before the 15 funded hours at age 3 kicked in. Luckily (in this sense) DS was an August baby so we have overall less time bearing these expensive years of paid childcare. As I "know" you from the Sept due thread, you might want to put that cost profile in a spreadsheet...!
Illness and exclusion... Yes, he picked up every possible bug, but was able to attend nursery so long as it didn't involve d&v, or make him so listless that he was too significant a drain on the key worker that they couldn't give enough attention to the other children. Different nurseries (and CMs, and nannies I guess) will have different policies on this so do ask the question and think through what you and DH would do in various situations. Things like Chickenpox (DS had this at just over 2 years old) have an even longer exclusion time, of course.
Most nurseries do charge for bank holidays even though they are shut because they still have to pay the staff wages.
Some do open on bank holidays but they tend to charge an extra fee for doing so for that day. Not all close betwen xmas and new year.
Most nurseries will charge for the days you have booked even if you don't use them, such as when you are on hoilday or if they send your child home poorly.
Can your husband not get childcare vouchers through his work?
When you visit a few nurseries then you can ask specific questions about terms and conditions - or just ring round a few.
I don't think that was the issue for the OP, I think she's just trying to understand how charges for childcare work - whether she sees childcare payments as coming out of her earnings or the couple's income, the question is how can she balance the cost with her ability to generate income.
She said further up the post that her husband would have to take days off sometimes if their LO was poorly - so I don't think its just her responsibility.
Well if my business wasn't going to break even then DH and I would discuss my carrying on anyway and us as a family taking the financial hit of my paying to work.
I think we'd decide it would be worth paying to work for the long term benefits (but bear in mind as s-e I pay my own pension and NI contributions and dont get holiday or sick pay so these benefits aren't as great as they are for the employed).
But, this thread is not about that - I don't think it'll come to that and never claimed it would - its about finding childcare solutions that work for the part-time self-employed in their fee structure. And it's mostly been very enlightening - mainly in the range of t&cs out there.
I, too, am rather surprised that childcare seems to be solely your responsibility. Surely it's allowing both you and your husband to work, therefore his salary should be used to pay half?
I think that's what Reetpetit is getting at.
If your husband's contribution is taken into account, your business can better absorb your half of the cost.
I think the non-consecutive days can be good or bad depending on the baby / child - I initially went back Mon, Thurs, Fri and my DD wasn't as settled as when I later changed to Wed, Thur, Fri. I think the "2 day weekend with all the family, 1 day at nursery, 2 days with mum, then 2 days at nursery again" was a bit chop and change for her -she never really quite got what was happening.
Thanks Doctrine - the non-consecutive days advice is brilliant! I hadn't thought of that at all.
reetpetite WHY are you having a go and being so sarcastic? Was I supposed to work this all out for myself before starting a mn thread???
I thought that I could come here and get info and indeed all the other posters have been helpful. I even explained in the thread title that I am new to the world of childcare and that my questions would be quite basic. Stop trying to make me feel shit.
Also my nursery tends to be flexible to take DS on an extra day (which I do have to pay for of course) on occasion.
Check their exclusion policies for D&V too. Ours is 48h so if DS gets Ill on a Tuesday, he can't go in on Wed or Thu either. Spacing your days might help with this eg Tue and Fri. Same for antibiotics - DS has to be on for 48h before going into nursery.
My nursery doesn't charge for bank holidays but does charge for the week between Xmas and new year.
If your days within a week are flexible, your DH could take a day's leave later in a week where you have covered short notice sickness.
Calculate childcare costs over a 1 year period, that way you can compare providers. Providers will have different hourly/day rates and will vary with regard to what they do and do not charge for with regard to nursery closed/training days and parents holiday. When visiting providers get comprehensive information about fees, if they do not say about bank holidays and other days they may be closed, ask.
Do not sign anything until you know exactly what you will be paying for. Read fine primt on comtracts carefully, some can have a long notice period on them should you decide to terminate the contract.
so don't put your baby in on mondays then!! if you get the odd day you have to pay for thats not a monday and the nursery is shut, i'm sure you'll manage....
The issue is mainly that I was intending to only work 2days a week while my baby is very young (less than a year). I was perfectly willing to make one of those days a Monday but not now I've found out about the bh thing.
If I work 2days a week 49 weeks a year that's only 98 days so 8 bhs is a massive % of days I lose and can't work because childcare is shut but pay for.
I can probably half this problem by not working Mondays at all so that's what I'll do.
You are right that we as a family can afford to pay for the bhs but its not helping my business if I can't work and my dh's salary doesn't change whether my business breaks even and is sustainable.
Btw. I am not sure why your tone is so confrontational on a simple question from somebody negotiating all this for the first time. Most people earn a salary or hourly rate and get mat leave so these calculations are easier to work out.
sorry op but seriously, most providers will charge for bh, it's part and parcel of using a service - same as you provide a service so do we, whether nurseries or childminders. all this 'i won't break even' stuff is rubbish imo, you say your dp is fairly senior in a male orientated profession but still you are bregrudging and squibbling over paying for bh
i am a single parent and work for minimum wage - i paid my ds nursery fees without even questioning the bh - it sounds as though you would be better off with a nanny, then she can look after your baby through bank holidays and when the baby is ill - it sounds like you can afford one, or if not, a nanny share.
As for childminders holidays most don't take a lot fwiw and some will work bh/some don't charge....
I work in the not-for-profit sector so there's a cap on what I can charge. I don't think I'm any worse off after tax and expenses than a salaried person at my level in my sector (and better than most in my sector). It's just that I need a big cushion against the unpredictability of jobs/work if I'm going to commit to childcare (right now I don't have any work-related outgoings if I don't work).
You need to take a good look at your professional fee's. Are you really charging a the correct rate for the job if it won't even cover childcare AND tax AND holiday pay AND insurance AND travel and leave you with something over?
I'm self employed, and even when I had to use full day care at a nursery it cost about half of my daily rate.
CMs are often more flexible about hours than nursery, I found Nursery charged by the half day and they set the times. But CMs charged by the hour and we negotiated times.
I would look at all childcare options open to you and not necessarily write off childminders or nannies.
Nannies will be able to look after your child if he or she is ill. Some childminders may also offer that option but most, especially if they care for other children, will exclude. Nurseries almost always exclude for child illness.
Your child is likely to pick up every bug going at first. More children means more bugs to be exposed to. Therefore, from a child sickness point of view, your child is most likely to be ill if using a nursery, less likely with a childminder and unlikely with a nanny.
Regarding carer's illness, a nanny or childminder can't look after your child if they become ill. That happens less often than you'd think. I have known nurseries to close twice during epidemics, but they are the least likely to close due to illness.
Charging and taking holidays varies. A nanny, you would need to pay.
A childminder may or may not charge depending on the terms of the contract. Some offer termtime contracts which may be of benefit to you. Some work bank holidays.
A nursery is usually open all year round and may or may not charge for bank holidays.
In short, look at all your options, give them a ring and see what they offer. It really does vary quite widely.
Thank you so much for the responses by the way - every response is helping me to get my head more round this strange new world
Just to double
triple check... so it sounds like if I take two weeks family holiday in a year then I will be paying for six days (two per week including xmas week) that I don't use/earn? plus illness days?
That seems do-able... if I plan it in now. I WILL have to work some evenings and weekends with dh doing 'free' childcare to make this work though.
(i might be able to get dh or dm or mil to cover me for a day during illness, if not the day of the illness then another that week so i can catch up).
I think 2cats might be referring to school nurseries for inset days - I've never heard of a private nursery closing for an inset day. Most nurseries are open for about 50/51 weeks of the year - they all close (in my experience) over the Christmas period (so say the last Friday before Christmas until 2nd/3rd January depending on Bank holidays) and Easter (so Good Friday and Easter Monday). They also close over Bank holidays. You need to check what the arrangements are for all of the holidays - all the nurseries I have used (I've used 3 different private nurseries) charge for all of the time they're closed (including Christmas, Easter and Bank holidays). Also, be aware that if you choose to take your baby out for a holiday etc, fees are still payable.
There is no problem choosing mid-week days but as others have said, you'll need to be prepared for the odd day here and there that she'll be sent home or won't be well enough to attend.
If she is ill and i'm out of town then DH will have to leave work and pick her up. It'll be interesting to see how his employers deal with that - he's pretty senior but in a very male-oriented profession.
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