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Sending DS to nursery after maternity leave. What do I need to know?

(15 Posts)
IfAtFirstUDontSucceed Mon 23-Sep-13 09:54:11

DS is almost 6mo and I'm having to think about my return to work in the new year and childcare arrangements.
As it stands my DM will be able to look after him two days a week, so we're looking at 2 possibly 3 days that DS needs to attend a nursery so I can go back to work full time.

This is all completely new to me. How would I go about seeking out a decent nursery? Is it just a case of digging out the yellow pages and ringing round?
Do many nurseries accept children a couple of days a week, or do they need to be full time?
DH gets a random day off through the week so there may be a need to change one nursery day as and when DH is told his day off - is this usually acceptable?
Are the costs pretty much the same across the board or do they vary dramatically (I've noticed on a couple of nursery websites that I've looked at, none of them advertise their fees).

All of this is pretty depressing sad I just want to sit with him on my knee forever!

ZiaMaria Mon 23-Sep-13 10:01:36

Nurseries will accept kids for varying lenghts of time (from one day per week to full time). My DD is at hers 2 full days (Mon and Fri). They usually want fixed days, so your DH would need to try and fix his day off if possible.

To start looking for a nursery, first google to find all those within a reasonable distance. Then google them specifically to see if there is anything that means you can knock one or two off your list immediately.

Then, call them all and ask if they have space available for the number of days you are wanting (if they are booked up - no point spending any more time on them). Then arrange to visit each nursery that has space - and importantly, do it while children are there (not at a weekend open day or in the evening). It's really important to see the kids who go there, and how the carers interact with them. Do they look bored/unhappy? Are there many toys? What is the temperature like? General atmosphere? Number of carers to children? If it clean and bright or dull and drab?

Get a copy of the registration and contract paperwork from each and read it thoroughly. Does the nursery require 6 months notice if you want to withdraw your child? What obligations do they have under the contract?

Then, pick the one you think your child will thrive in.

RunDougalRunQuiteFast Mon 23-Sep-13 10:01:59

Ring around your local nurseries and visit them all. Pick the one you like best, where the staff are nice and the kids look happy. Not booking a full week won't cause a problem if they have availability for those days, but changing your days is not usually possible. Good luck!

Oceansurf Mon 23-Sep-13 10:07:24

Just turn up and visit.

We visited two - one that was planned and one that was unplanned.

The planned visit was very fake, and given that they knew we were coming, I was fairly shocked at the level of cleanliness in general Wouldn't have left my dog there,never mind my 8 month old!

The unplanned visit was on the back of a recommendation. They couldn't have been more welcoming and the nursery was fantastic. The baby room was beautifully clean and the babies were all gurgling away happily (with all of those sitting having a cushion support behind them)

You will know when you see the one that's right.

My 10month old loves her 2 key workers now. Gives them kisses when she leaves. Always has a fab day - painting, baking, making things.

Most nurseries seem to be a minimum of 2 days a week which is what DD goes. I felt just the same as you if I'm honest, but now it's all sorted and DD loves going, it's a massive weight off my mind. I've put her in a full month before I need to which I would recommend (if finances allow). I've been able to ease her in gently and really get to know the staff and other babies without having to just drop and run!

TeamSouthfields Mon 23-Sep-13 10:13:28

U can normally do any days at nursery from 1-5 days but they normally want fixed days due to ratio's / staff etc..

Prices vary according to each nursery.. And nursery waiting lists are normally a year long, and u normally have to apply when your pregnant..

Each nursery is different..

Go onto .... Type in 'private nurseries in 'ur postcode' and afew differnt ones should come up, then u can google them one at a time, checking ofsted reports and local parent forums to get the low down...

Good luck looking, u better start now!!!shock

TeamSouthfields Mon 23-Sep-13 10:16:40

If a nursery cant do a unplanned visit, pls done exclude it straight away..

I worked in a great nursery for 5 years and sometimes it just wasn't possible to accommodate a show-round at that precise moment ..
Didnt mean we wasnt a good nursery because we were..

Which area do u live in? Maybe someone can recommend on here, or/and on the local boards..

Good luck

jobnockey Mon 23-Sep-13 11:11:44

We didn't have to use a nursery for DS until he was 3yo so I know it's different for you with a baby but my questions/things to look out for would be:
Do the staff seem caring? Are they interacting with the children, engaging them etc? do they look like they're enjoying their job or do they look bored? What is the staff turnover like? I think it's a good sign if most of the staff have been there a while.Do they have outside space to play in? good resources /toys etc? what are the meals like? and how good is the communication with parents?
This is what i would look out for.
good luck!

AidanTheRevengeNinja Mon 23-Sep-13 11:59:09

ZiaMaria gave great advice - that's basically what we did.

Get a wriggle on as we booked when I was 18 weeks pregnant (taking a year off after birth), and a few were already booked for the days we needed!

Days usually need to be fixed but ask about flexibility.

I found it useful to read Ofsted reports (available online for most nurseries) - not necessarily the grades which can be based on silly things, but the comments by the inspectors, which can give you a feel for the nursery. What stood out about the nursery we went with was the inspector kept banging on about how happy the children were, and we found that was reflected when we visited.

When you visit, have a list of questions ready - eg ask about meals (freshly cooked on site is best), staff turnover (lower the better), staff ratios (same), if they accept childcare vouchers (saves you loads if your workplace gives these).

None of the nurseries we visited would have allowed unplanned visits btw, nor would I have wanted them to - wouldn't want random strangers wandering in at all times when my child was there. Visits were scheduled for a quiet time within the nursery when staff were free, and only a certain number each week to avoid disruption for the children, which is as it should be IMO.

The nursery we chose is small and family-run with staff who have been there forever, only 6 babies in a dedicated room with at least 3 staff at all times, and most importantly all the children were clearly happy and being well cared for. You'll know when you find the right place!

Definitely post here too. I did, and found someone whose child goes to the same nursery who gave me a very honest review. Personal recommendations are brilliant.

AidanTheRevengeNinja Mon 23-Sep-13 12:08:25

PS if you go to any baby groups, ask around there too. Also work colleagues, friends etc. Even if they don't have children in nursery they often will have heard something about particular nurseries, have friends who go there, etc.

IfAtFirstUDontSucceed Mon 23-Sep-13 14:02:16

Some great advice here, thanks!

Aiden - We're actually moving out of the area within the next few months so am having to look at nurseries 30 miles away! Luckily I know the area well as I grew up there.

AidanTheRevengeNinja Mon 23-Sep-13 14:29:55

Ah that's tricky! Though once you have a shortlist you could probably arrange all the visits on the same day (we only looked at three in the end) which will make comparing easier. Good luck with the move. And don't be depressed - I feel like that sometimes but I know so many people with children in nursery and they are all really enthusiastic about how great the nurseries are and how much their children love going, which cheers me up. I'm pretty sure he'll be better entertained than at home with me smile

Meglet Mon 23-Sep-13 14:38:53

The dc's nursery didn't allow unplanned visits. They didn't want random adults wandering around when the kids were napping or eating. Parents of children at nursery were allowed to go in at any time of day though.

Go with your gut instinct, I did and it paid off. Ask on facebook too.

MillionPramMiles Tue 24-Sep-13 12:14:20

Lots of good advice above. For a 6 month old I’d suggest the key needs are sleep, appropriate calm environment and plenty of comfort/cuddles to hand. Couple of things I’d suggest looking out for/asking about when you visit:

-Where do the babies sleep? Are there enough cots? Is there a quiet area/room so babies can have a nap whenever they are tired rather than having to try to abide by a strict routine?
-What is the age range of the baby room? Is it only non walkers or are there lots of older toddlers running around the babies?
-Are the staff sitting on the floor with the babies? Are some of the babies in staff’s laps? Or are the staff interacting from a distance only?

One other thing, you might find with your ds that it takes longer for him to settle in if he’s only there 2 days a week. Generally the more days a week children attend, the easier they tend to adapt.
Do try to settle him in his childcare routine a few weeks before you go back to work if possible. It will make all the difference.

moogy1a Thu 26-Sep-13 15:22:31

Please have a think about a childminder for such a little one.
Some of us are fab grin

dontyouknow Tue 08-Oct-13 13:46:59

Can your husband fix his day off or at least make it a bit more regular?

My nursery were very flexible. I am a solicitor and if a court hearing came up when I would usually be at home I would swap my days around. Nursery were fine with this IF they had a space (fair enough really). A friend from work's nursery was a lot less flexible and were very negative when she initially asked about changing days around. Just explain the situation to them and see what they say.

If your days will change each week you might end up just having to pay for three days a week.

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