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Husband changing job - childcare crisis

(30 Posts)
krasnayaplats Wed 12-Mar-14 15:48:09

My husband is taking a job out of town. He will require to live away most of the time, and even if he can get home, he will have to leave before 7am and not return until late. I cannot criticise him. For reasons I can’t explain in detail, this is not an offer he can refuse.

I have worked very hard for many years to be where I am professionally. I am self employed. Three to six times a month I need to be out of the house before 8 (sometimes before 6, maybe two-four times a year) and not back till late, or at least till after nursery closes. We have a two year old. Up till now we have been able to shuffle things around so that there is always one of us to do the pickups and drop offs, and to pick her up if she is ill. We have had a bad experience with a nanny, and I would not rely on one again for FT care. More important, our DD enjoys nursery – it is a really lovely nursery – and I believe she benefits from her experiences there.

I am struggling to think how I can arrange childcare to allow me to work. If I don't work, I basically have wasted the last 20 years of my life. Do I have to pay for someone to be there at 7am even on the (majority of) days that I don’t need that cover? Would anyone who I would trust actually want a job where the hours were 7am to 9am and 5.30pm till 7, or 8? Does anyone have any experience of childcare arrangements like this?

I cannot give up the things that need the early starts – they are a really important part of my work. I cannot move with my husband. My two older children’s dad lives nearby, and I cannot leave them, or ask them to move with me and have less time with their dad. Their dad and I share care more or less equally.

What can I do? I am also really distressed by the prospect of not having my best friend to talk to. I just feel sad. I don’t have family nearby. I know that everytime something goes wrong with childcare – dd is ill, or, if I can get wraparound, the carer doesn’t show, I will take the hit, not him, whereas we have shared the risk till now. Thank you for listening.

nomorebooze Wed 12-Mar-14 16:01:59

not sure where you live? not sure what to advise you really? does your nursery have any members of staff you trust which could provide wrap around care before or after Nursery times? ie:drop your child at theres she goes to nursery then you pick her up from theres when needed? may be worth an ask! im looking at starting childcare at home for people like yourself who struggle with working hrs, where are you roughly?

Thurlow Wed 12-Mar-14 16:02:55

That's so hard, I understand why you're distressed. It sounds like there are two issues here for you, the childcare and your husband moving away.

Can I ask what your DH thinks and says about all this? I guess the reasons he has to move are overwhelming, but essentially he is chosing to move away from his family (is your DD his daughter?) and leave you solo parenting for most of the time. What are his thoughts and suggestions?

In terms of practicalities, I have found CMs to be more flexible in terms of hours. One suggestion would be to talk to CMs and find out if there are any who you could use alongside nursery, perhaps cutting down a bit of the nursery hours so your DD spends regular time with a CM, but who would then have her for the odd early or late start. Most CMs do standard 8-6 hours but others are much more flexible and cater to families who do shift work etc.

Cheerymum Wed 12-Mar-14 16:11:07

Are there any colleges local to you where students study childcare? You might find a student willing to do it on an ad hoc basis? If you pay well, eg £10 per hour, it might be quite attractive as an option that could fit round college (especially if it is only occasional so they don't have to get up that early too often!) Definitely ask your nursery staff as suggested above. I had a crisis one day when it looked as if I wasn't going to be back in time for nursery pickup and one of the girls who lived near work was happy to walk my dd back to hers and give her tea - with the advantage it was already someone she knew well. Nursery work isn't well paid, so they might be glad of a few extra hours here and there.
Perfectly normal to feel sad about this period of seeing less of your husband, and my heart goes out to you. But think creatively and you'll be able to solve the childcare component of it.

chateauferret Wed 12-Mar-14 16:46:12

What's space like in your house? A live-in au pair could probably manage this and might not be as expensive as you might think.

krasnayaplats Wed 12-Mar-14 17:44:06

Chateau - had thought about an au pair, but no space, unfortunately. Even went the length of budgeting what it would cost to move elsewhere in town to get the space, but it's not a runner at the moment. Nomorebooze - am north of border in soon to be independent state of Salmondia (maybe!). Thurlow - My DH is unhappy, but the situation is not entirely of his making. Cheerymum - College a good idea, may try to research. There will certainly be at least one local college teaching this, I am sure.

AgentProvocateur Wed 12-Mar-14 17:52:20

OP, I have two teens at uni/school and they both do this for a neighbour on an ad hoc basis. Do you have any teens nearby? £5 an hour (drinking money!) is cheaper for you than getting an au pair.

oranges Wed 12-Mar-14 17:57:09

advertise on gumtree or craigslist. we needed someone on erratic hours on an ad hoc basis too. we found a lovely granny, who lived nearby and wanted a few hoursa week for extra cash, but didn't want anything too full on. She is totally flexible, likes the early morning starts and after school pick ups as she then still has her day free for lunches, exercise, friends etc. We are very lucky, I know. There will be people out there who want to earn a bit extra at the fringes of a normal day.

TryingToBePractical Wed 12-Mar-14 18:00:10

Would you usea temp nanny agency? Would something like Sitters be able to cover this? DO you have friends who could help out?

CharlesRyder Wed 12-Mar-14 18:06:29

Yes, I was going to say put your requirements on Gumtree and see what turns up. I did this once and had lots of responses- one from someone doing a teaching degree who wanted some beer tokens- perfect.

ivykaty44 Wed 12-Mar-14 18:08:33

See this is what I would love to offer - occasional out of hours care for parents - early starts or late finishes and even sick from nursery days - but not full time care or regular care.

bigkidsdidit Wed 12-Mar-14 18:09:53

My childminder very occasionally does this for me, and for other parents. she looked after my DS overnight while I was in labour too. this is not that uncommon. How much notice do you get of your early days?

Could your DH take annual leave the few days a year ou have to leave very early?

VivaLeBeaver Wed 12-Mar-14 18:11:46

I know you say that the DC enjoy nursery but have you thought about a childminder. I used to have one who would start at 6:30am if needed and would have done the odd 6am start if asked I'm sure.

Bogeyface Wed 12-Mar-14 18:56:47

What about advertising for a Mothers Help? Basically the same as an Au Pair but live out.

She could do the drops off and pick ups and maybe a few hours cleaning/washing too if you can afford it. If you are self employed, is moving to where his job is an option?

Bogeyface Wed 12-Mar-14 18:57:59

I meant.....offer the MH say....15 hours a week. But split the hours where needed so if she does the drop offs or pick ups then thats it, but if she doesnt then she does clearing up after breakfast, washing, ironing etc.

Bogeyface Wed 12-Mar-14 18:58:14

I would take a job like that in a heartbeat!

Jbck Wed 12-Mar-14 19:02:33

Your local council website will give details od all kinds of childcare in the area and some people may specialise in this type of scenario. If you know in advance and it'd be them watching DCand dropping at nursery then picking up later it may be outwith their normal hours so wouldn't affect ratios if they offer normal 9-5 care to others.

Loving Salmondia, well won't actually if it happens but he's that egotistical I can see it being the first motion up for debate grin

GarthsUncle Wed 12-Mar-14 19:08:18

Are there any parents at the nursery who could help you out on an occasional basis (could be a few of them) in return for weekend babysitting or similar.

I'd also talk to nanny agencies and sitters - if they have people on their books between jobs or similar they may be able to help.

And you haven't wasted the last 20 years however this works out - they were valuable and useful.

NeverQuiteSure Wed 12-Mar-14 19:08:26

Some great advice here. I do feel for you OP, my husband worked away (generally Mon-Fri, but sometimes 10 days away at a time when he had projects out of the country). Our children were 1 and 2 when he started.

If all else fails, please reconsider a Nanny. It will cover you for when your child is ill (so you'll only have to take time off if your Nanny is ill, which will be far less often) and you'll have someone established there for babysitting and extra hours. Try recruiting yourself (I used and interview lots of people to find the best fit.

NeverQuiteSure Wed 12-Mar-14 19:13:23

Two more things:
1. If you can afford it, there's no reason why a nanny cannot take you child to/from nursery. Even if you can't afford it, there are plenty of free groups around he/she could take your child to, plus 15hrs of free nursery funding after your child turns 3.
2. Don't necessarily restrict your nanny search to those with the most experience. Often younger nannies will find it easier to mould around the needs of your family.
If you're really set against nannies just ignore this, but thought it might be worth putting down in case you have to reconsider.

dollius Wed 12-Mar-14 19:18:55

Yes, talk to local childminders - some may be happy to do ad-hoc stand-ins when you are stuck.

Ask at the nursery - you never know, one of the staff there might be happy to come and collect her early for some extra cash.

I would also consider the idea of a babysitter, even a local teenager, to stand in when necessary for a bit of cash.

All depends if your dd can be walked to nursery/needs driving there/etc etc

It IS do-able - don't panic!

dollius Wed 12-Mar-14 19:23:02

Can you ask friends as well/other parents at nursery? If you were my friend, I wouldn't hesitate to step in when needed.

I've lost count of the number of parents at my dd's nursery who have offered to pick her up and take her home for me because I work full time and have to take time out of my day to do it. Luckily I have a job that allows that no problem (and I live in a foreign city where everything is five mins drive away), but the point is that others have noticed and offered the help.

People do want to help.

GarthsUncle Wed 12-Mar-14 19:27:20

If you do ask nursery staff, check with nursery also - mine doesn't like staff to do this as there's not a clear handover if care from parent to nursery.

Bogeyface Wed 12-Mar-14 19:38:25

Garth has a point. Our nursery put a stop to their staff babysitting for clients because invariably when the second baby came along the nursery nurse would leave and become a nanny for the family she had babysat for as one nanny is cheaper than 2 full time at nursery. They lost 8 nursery nurses in a year to that!

GarthsUncle Wed 12-Mar-14 19:40:53

We have to pay nursery a penalty if we try that, Bowlers grin

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