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Nursery questions

(29 Posts)
holliem91 Wed 07-Oct-20 22:45:05

So my DD is 7 months old and I'm wondering when I'm supposed to start looking for a nursery for when I go back to work.

FTM so I have no idea where to even start.

I plan on going back to work in January so in 3 months time. Have I left it too late? Should I apply now or is it still too early? I don't even know where I stand with covid and what the restrictions will be like then but I'm just basing it on the circumstances now.

Any help will be greatsmile

OP’s posts: |
Dyra Wed 07-Oct-20 22:58:48

IME you'll want to apply ASAP because there's usually a waiting list. In my case, I had to apply 6 months in advance to the nursery DD goes to, and 8+ months to the nursery I would have liked her to have gone to, but didn't apply early enough.

LouiseTrees Wed 07-Oct-20 23:01:23

Start looking now, you have left it a bit late in the current circumstances. Nurseries will have less spaces available. You probably won’t be able to view ones to pick so ask for recommendations either from friends or from a local Facebook group, read the inspectorate report, maybe drive past the outside and have a shortlist of acceptable ones in ranked order, start phoning them ASAP. If I were you I’d aim to have everything fixed by end Oct.

holliem91 Wed 07-Oct-20 23:02:11

@Dyra oh dear! Sounds like I've left it way to late! I'll get on it tomorrow and see what waiting times are like. Hopefully I'll get something sorted in time. Thank you smile

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BackforGood Wed 07-Oct-20 23:03:22

It is area dependent

However, I know where I am, many, many Nurseries are nowhere near full capacity at the moment, as folk who don't have to be at work aren't taking up places they usually would.

FluffMagnet Wed 07-Oct-20 23:05:51

I applied when 7 mths pregnant. Still had one nursery say they could put us on a waiting list only as they were fully booked! I guess it probably depends on your area as to availability, but I really would get a shift on.

holliem91 Wed 07-Oct-20 23:05:52

@LouiseTrees yep! I definitely haveblush it's one of those jobs that gives me a headache even thinking about it. It's not a quick task trying to find a suitable nursery so I've just put it off for a few months. Probably shouldn't have done that but I'll be on it tomorrow! Thank yougrin

OP’s posts: |
EasterIssland Wed 07-Oct-20 23:08:03

Depends the nursery. A friend was pregnant when she booked hers and her daughter just started nurseey now with 2y because the demand was so high.

Ours could be done one month to another. I’d tho start looking soon to see the ones you’re keen on and pay a deposit. Some might have restrictions about visiting so might. E more difficult atm

MasksGlovesSoapScrubs Wed 07-Oct-20 23:08:19

Agree it's area dependent. My sister is moving and she's got her DC into nursery straight away.

holliem91 Wed 07-Oct-20 23:10:29

@BackforGood yeah that's a good point. Hopefully that's the case where I am. Knowing my luck, every nursery will be fully booked for months

@FluffMagnet yeah I was supper organised when I was pregnant (as you do) and I wanted to look for nurseries then but everyone told me it was way too soon, tomorrow I'll be wishing I had done it when I was pregnant. Wish me luck...

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Dyra Wed 07-Oct-20 23:37:02

Just realised my post wasn't helpful. Your local council should have a webpage listing all nurseries in their area. Childcare.co.uk will also list nurseries, and will have childminders listed as well.

My main criteria for nursery were: is it easy to get to? If drop off/pick up is going to be part of your commute, you really don't want to be going miles out of your way if you can help it. If you get to visit, are the children happy? Do the staff interact well with the kids? Are the rooms/toys well maintained, or a bit run down? I take online reviews and Ofsted reports with a pinch of salt. Good, we found, covers a wide range of nurseries.

I'm sure you'll be fine @holliem91. Good luck with your search.

holliem91 Thu 08-Oct-20 10:19:34

Thank you for that @Dyra that's really helpful! Can I ask (if you know) why some parents opt for childminders instead? I understand there's less children that they take care of so perhaps better in terms of 1 to 1 time for your child and also it's perhaps slightly cheaper? But are there any other reasons? Just working out what would be bestsmile

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crazychemist Thu 08-Oct-20 13:01:10

Start looking now. Waiting lists etc are heavily area dependent, so it may or may not be challenging for you to find something at 3 months notice. It wouldn’t have been a problem in my area (Kent) - one place we looked at had a ridiculously long waiting list, but nowhere else did.

We looked at childminders first as I thought it would be more like being at home. In the end we went for a nursery because as a larger institution they can be more flexible on days/hours and we needed that. It is a very different feel - I felt like the nursery offered more variety of activity/people, but I do think the children get a bit less dedicated attention - my DD had a keyworker, but she wasn’t in all the times that my DD was, so she was actually kind of spread over 3 different people.

ivfbeenbusy Thu 08-Oct-20 13:17:24

@holliem91

We went with a childminder simply due to cost - nurseries in my area are £55+ per day and a childminder is around £35+ per day. So huge financial benefit. Also the flexibility as I often work away/up and down the country (or did before Covid!) and can run late if stuck in traffic

Childminder's do have less children but it's not like your child is going to be on his own all day - they rarely ever have just one child

Disadvantages wise - lack of control I suppose, Childminder's can have all sorts of visitors popping in all day and you'd never know and none of them are vetted. They don't always follow a curriculum (although supposed to get the 30 hours payments) and many point blank refuse to sign up to the tax free childcare account. Also you end up paying them for holidays and bank holidays which can get a bit frustrating

With DD I looked at nurseries whilst still pregnant - about 7-8 months but my maternity leave is rubbish - only 5 months. In the end we didn't choose a childminder until much later - maybe 2 months before she was due to start

I'm now pregnant with twins and have had their places reserved for a difference childminder since I was 3 months pregnant

Superscientist Thu 08-Oct-20 14:41:31

We wanted to get into the nursery that is a 2 minute walk from the train station so would definitely help me keep at 40 hours with my commute so we signed her up at 4 weeks old. I probably would have put it off if I had more options for childcare + commute.

You've got three months, whilst it might have been easier earlier it is what it is.

SequinSmile Thu 08-Oct-20 14:48:07

We just went through this. No available childminders but nursery we got a place no trouble and could have started straight away. Definitely start looking now just in case.

mindutopia Thu 08-Oct-20 15:57:58

Yes, do it now. I think both times we reserved a place about 4-6 months before, but we live in quite a rural area and usually nurseries aren't at capacity around here.

In terms of making a decision, just go with your gut and also what is convenient for you in terms of your work commute. We looked at 2 (only two there are near us). One was amazing and outdoors and forest school focussed and staff were so lovely and warm. The other (big fancy chain) was awful. Mostly just soft play, they didn't necessarily go outside everyday, staff were cold, manager mostly concerned with making sure we knew the penalties for late payment than actually answering our questions. It was a pretty easy decision and we've been very happy (two dc who have gone there now).

Personally, I much prefer a nursery to a childminder. The childminders I see about always seem so over-run and hardly paying attention to the children. At nursery, there are at least 5 staff always there (it's mixed ages, so they are generally together unless the babies go off to do something quite/nap time), so there is always a lap to sit in and lots of one-on-one attention if they want it.

holliem91 Thu 08-Oct-20 17:01:07

Thanks everyone. smile

I have been looking today and I am struggling to find a local nursery that's either near where I live or near where I work that starts before 8am. I start work at 8, so would need to have DD dropped off at nursery for 7.30 if not earlier to account for traffic as where I live is a nightmare for traffic (lots of road works going on at the minute too which they have announced will be carrying on well into 2021).

So, things I need to consider are:

General cleanliness
Friendly staff
How they interact with the children
What activities they do with them
A balanced time between indoor and outdoor activities
The food they offer I guess

Have I missed anything?

One nursery I rang earlier which I am interested in, have booked us an appointment to visit them but it's out of hours due to covid. I don't know if that's was the normal before covid but it doesn't give me an insight as to how the staff are with the little ones which does put me off slightly but I suppose that could be the same at most nurseries.

I looked into childminding but it seems very few childminders work during school holidays which isn't ideal.

OP’s posts: |
BackforGood Thu 08-Oct-20 20:27:40

Yes, unfortunately, due to COVID most nurseries aren't letting anyone in at the moment.
I'd be quite impressed that staff are willing to stay after hours to show you round.

Childminders are self employed, so set their own T&Cs. IME, the majority do work through the holidays (less their own weeks' holiday).

niclw Thu 08-Oct-20 22:06:22

I'd also be asking questions about where the children sleep at nap time. In the first nursery my son went to the cots were in the play area with other children accidentally knocking into the cot. The baby room at his current nursery had a separate section within the room for napping children but still within the room. I would also ask how they deal with nap time. The current nursery insist that all children nap after lunch so about 1pm but my DS (just turned 2) wakes at 5.30am and is usually ready for a nap by 11am but they actively discourage it.

EasterIssland Thu 08-Oct-20 22:48:26

Ratios teachers / Kids
Activities / approach
Food : will they support your chosen food type ? Veg / purée / blw
Price what does it include : nappies / food / sun cream

TigerQuoll Thu 08-Oct-20 23:53:44

An option is a local person who can come over and look after your child until nursery starts and drive them there and drop off.

Try to get one near your house if you can rather than near your work. Ideally your child will be in the same nursery until they go to preschool or school and you don't know if your work situation could change in that time. Of my two sisters, one chose a nursery less than 10 minutes drive from her house, the other one that was next door to her work (so she could go in and breastfeed at lunch) but 30+ minutes from her house (terrible traffic at peak times, could be up to an hour if unlucky), and both of them have changed jobs in the last year so one is working full time from home and the other half from home and half from an office on a different side of town. Guess which one has the less stressful life!

EasterIssland Fri 09-Oct-20 07:08:03

TigerQuoll

An option is a local person who can come over and look after your child until nursery starts and drive them there and drop off.

Try to get one near your house if you can rather than near your work. Ideally your child will be in the same nursery until they go to preschool or school and you don't know if your work situation could change in that time. Of my two sisters, one chose a nursery less than 10 minutes drive from her house, the other one that was next door to her work (so she could go in and breastfeed at lunch) but 30+ minutes from her house (terrible traffic at peak times, could be up to an hour if unlucky), and both of them have changed jobs in the last year so one is working full time from home and the other half from home and half from an office on a different side of town. Guess which one has the less stressful life!

Im so glad we chose the one next to my house rather than work! Since March wfh... id be doing nowadays 1h day to drop my son off if we had chosen the one by work. Also know few of the kids so we sometime meet during the weekend in the neighbourhood and feel it’s so much easier

FizzingWhizzbee123 Fri 09-Oct-20 18:20:17

Our current nursery is booked in all rooms until 2021! I’ve ended up putting DS2 on the waiting list even though he’s not due for another few weeks.

Anyway, it’s a shame you can’t visit as I found gut feeling very important. Flashy equipment and shiny rooms aren’t worth much if the staff aren’t any good. We saw some lovely looking nurseries but the atmosphere was just flat.

We ended up going for a forest school ethos nursery which is based in a rugby club building! That means everything has to pop up and be packed away at the weekends, there’s no purpose built premises and mud gets tracked everywhere (by the kids and the players). What is does have is immediately access to a HUGE field (so many nurseries lacking decent outdoor space) and wonderful, dynamic staff. I picked it based on gut instinct and positive feedback from local parents and I haven’t regretted my decision.

Can you ask on a local Facebook group about feedback from parents who have kids there? It’s invaluable.

doireallyneedaname Fri 09-Oct-20 21:10:35

I’m in the same situation, same age baby too! I started looking last month when it dawned on me. There will be nurseries available but possibly not the ones everyone will recommend in the area, and if they do they’ll have limited days. We were able to visit the nurseries, they made sure the kids were outside when we did.

It’s all very overwhelming but the best advice I got was to go with the one that makes you feel warm and safe when you’re in there. Ask about their Ofsted rating, outdoor play, meals etc.

We got the nursery we wanted, but even they only had 3 of 5 days available and we only need afternoons. With hindsight I don’t mind at all as I think full time would be a bit much for an 11 month old.

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