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childminder v nursery - anyone tried both?

19 replies

elliott · 03/02/2005 11:53

just wanting a quick straw poll of anyone who has used both a nursery and a childminder.

ds's are currently in nursery but I've been prevaricating about changing for a while. Finally foudn a local childminder with spaces and going to check her out tomorrow, and hoping it will be clear to me whether she's suitable or not! Feel rather strange at the idea of taking ds's from the familiar nursery environment - am I doing the right thing?

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elliott · 03/02/2005 11:53

sorry I meant a straw poll of which you preferred and why - that wasn't very clear was it!

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elliott · 03/02/2005 12:20

ok I know its dull but please someone humour me...I'm getting myself into knots about this decision now that there's actually a chance that it might become a reality!

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otto · 03/02/2005 12:48

I haven't used a childminder, but I checked out several childminders and nurseries before opting for a nursery. I chose a nursery because I felt that ds would get more care and attention as the ratio of staff to children was higher than with a childminder. Also the nursery has a strict daily routine and schedules in lots of activities so ds is never stuck in front of the TV while childminder attended to other children. Some childminders also do school pick-ups and I felt that ds might end up being dragged around after other children. Childminder's also get ill and go on holiday. leaving you in the lurch. Nurseries usually get cover if anybody is sick and close for only a couple of weeks a year. Ds has been at nursery for almost five months now and is very happy, but I'm sure others will have similar positive things to say about childminders. HTH


puddle · 03/02/2005 12:48

Hi Elliott
I guess it depends on your reasons.

I have tried both, but moved the other way. DD went to childminders from six months until one and a bit. My reasons were:

  • DS was at same nursery, I loved it and knew DD would be happy
  • she was walking and starting to talk, she loves being with other children and I thought she was ready for the kind of play they do at nursery
  • She is only there two days a week and I felt the 'formality' of nursery - the way they have structured activities, socialise etc - complemented the days she is at home with me or dp. At the childminders she fitted into the childminders day eg went shopping, did school runs etc. Which is fine but but it's nice that the nursery day is just dedicated to fun!

    I was really happy with our childminder though, she became part of the family and is now taking my son to school two days a week (and will probably do the same for dd when she's old enough to go.

    Are you unhappy with your nursery? Why are you planning to change it?

motherpeculiar · 03/02/2005 12:53

Hi elliott

only have experience of nursery myself but will be facing a similar choice when no. 2 comes along.

WHy are you thinking of changing your ds's? aren't you happy with the nursery? I guess a lot of it will boil down to what the cm is like and how happy you are withe the nursery.

my rationale for nursery in the first place was that I liked the idea of somewhere where there was more than one person looking after DD, so that when it all got too much (as I know it can when looking after kids) for anyone there was some backup there. Now that DD is a bit older I'm less worried about this as I think she's report back if anything worrying were going on in terms of Cm being able to cope.

will be interested in the responses you get


scotlou · 03/02/2005 13:05

I have used both - ds started witha a really good childminder at 5 months. She was brilliant and he was treated as one of the family - doing the day to day stuff like going to shops, library, walks to the park etc etc. She only had him and her own kids ( at that point 3 boys - 2 at school and one 3 year old at home). I really looked forward to ds staying with her for ever!!! Then she became pregnant with number 4 and decided to give up childminding. I then sent him to another childminder - new but seemed very nice. It did not work out - he screamed all the time while he was there. So at 2 1/2 he went to a local nursery - and his sister started there at 5 months. I have to say that ds did not like nursery - he was used to a family environment. dd however loves nursery! Therefore, I suppose, it really depends on you and your kids! I would probably still prefer a childminder who looks after only a couple of kids - including mine - as I feel that that is the environment I would prefer. But it is not going to happen. Nursery offers better continuity of care for my dd - and luckily she loves it!


elliott · 03/02/2005 13:05

thanks for these. I've seen a few comments on various childminding threads from people who've moved from nursery to childminder and seem to be much happier with childminding.
Why am I considering changing? Good question. Perhaps its a bit of 'grass is greener' and mummy guilt kicking in - basically I have always believed the research that says that care from one caregiver is better in the early years. Having said that ds1 is now 3.2 so its too late for him, and ds2 is fast moving out of babyhood at 14 months. Its partly that I have to change at some point (although not right now) to accommodate ds1 starting school and dealing with the holidays (arrggh) - he could start preschool nursery full time in Sept.

I'm not unhappy with nursery per se - they seem to like it - although I am less happy than I used to be. There have been a lot of staff changes; the baby room is quite big and I just worry that it is not a very homely and relaxing environment (fortunately ds2 is not easily upset but I do worry that he gets ignored!); for ds1 it is more that its a very long day for him and he is soooo wrecked at the end of it. at a CM he could go to a playgroup for a couple of hours and just have a more low key relaxing time the rest of the day. I do appreciate that there are lots of convenience factors and on the whole I think it is a very good nursery. But its still an institution at the end of the day, not a home...

But I expect my decision will be made when I see her - I'm hoping so anyway!
Sorry for rambling....

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Pidge · 03/02/2005 13:19

Elliott - I think the answer is that you'll know when you meet the childminder!

My dd was at nursery 3-4 days per week from 6 months to 2 years, then we moved her to a childminder. The nursery was only up to age 2 anyway, but many of the other kids went on to the next age group in the same nursery chain.

The nursery was ok, but we were never totally thrilled, and the childminder we've found is outstanding. We were on her waiting list for a year before we got a place. I'm really happy with the change, dd loves going to her childminder. And I love the fact that she gets more attention. It's actually a mother and daughter childminding team who work together, so there are still lots of other kids around, which was important to us. Plus they go out every day to playgroups, music groups etc, so the socialising element is there too.

We hope that baby no 2 (due in a month) will go to the childminder from about 10 months old.


motherinferior · 03/02/2005 13:43

Elliott, I think it's a question of seeing what's in your area and which of the different options you like (I've just written a piece on this, as it happens).

I found a fabulous childminder, but I'm sure I would have been just as happy with a fabulous nursery - as in fact I know, from the women (MNers!) I talked to for the article.


elliott · 03/02/2005 14:09

oh I must admit to feeling at those of you lucky enough to have a wonderful childminder!

MI research is my middle name! Phoned just about every CM in the area and everyone I know who uses one...discovered there are only about 5 that do the pick up at the relevant school and they are all booked solid - I said I was prepared to wait but they don't seem to operate a 'waiting list'. So I know that if this one isn't good enough then I am down to looking for a nanny if I really want to take them out of nursery. And that's yet another different ball game, as well as being more of a financial drain.

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motherpeculiar · 03/02/2005 15:58

MI - is your piece available anywhere to read? I may be in this boat myself when DD is ready to go to school nursery and need all the info I can get!


motherinferior · 03/02/2005 16:00

MP, it's not been published yet so I can't send you a draft but if you CAT me I'll let you know when and where it'll be out.


elliott · 04/02/2005 10:37

MI did I see you quoted in the Guardian piece about women's bodies post childbirth

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Uwila · 04/02/2005 10:43

I don't know if this is any help, but if you have an extra room, a live in nanny is often the same price or even cheaper than a childminder if you have at least 2 kids. How old are they? How many hours would you be needing? Perhaps you could even get away with a nanny share?

However, employing a nanny come with a lot of responsibilities that you may or may not wish to take on.


elliott · 04/02/2005 11:40

no spare room - ds2 currently camped in the study so its a bit cramped really!
I think a (liveout)nanny would work out a bit more expensive than the CM - especially once ds1 at nursery. Definitely something I've been thinking about though.

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HeyEnidYouveLostWeight · 04/02/2005 11:43

I firmly believe that childminders are better for young babies/toddlers than nurseries - just my opinion OK. I think its good for them to be able to fix on one person, and really good for them to experience a normal, everyday home life rather than the constant stimulation of nursery.

My sister is about to have her first baby and firmly disagrees with me though - she feels more secure about sending her baby to a nursery.


Marina · 04/02/2005 12:00

My personal experience of using a childminder (for six months when ds was small) was NOT good I have to say - she was registered etc of course. We have always been lucky with our nurseries and been happy to stick with them. I still think (and agree with Enid) that if you get a really top-notch childminder then that is a better, less hectic environment for the under 2s. But I have never been able to find anyone remotely suitable in my area of SE London.
I think you are right to assume that you will click with her elliott, especially as at least one of your children is older and you are not completely new to the world of parenting and daycare. My mistake was to not trust my instincts where the childminder was concerned. Ds came to no harm but was not happy and neither were we.
Good luck with your visit, hope she turns out to be a jewel!


Uwila · 04/02/2005 14:19

sorry, I didn't really take the time to read the whole thres. I just realised one is a young baby. I totally agree with Enid. When my DD was young she went to a childminder. I didn't want a nanny because I was not prepared to trust my precious baby with a single person who would be COMPLETELY unsupervised all day long. And nurseries were too rigid on their rules, and how attached would they really be to my one baby. Was afraid she could get neglected. So, I felt that a childminder was the happy medium. There were enough people around that I felt reassured nothing horrible would happen while I was away, yet it allowed DD to be in more "homey" surrounding everyday. My childminder turned out to be fantastic, and if you happen to be in the Epsom area I would highly recommend her. We now have a nanny, but it isn't because of anything the childminder did poorly. I simply got fed up with working long hours and trying to find time to clean the house, and ending up neglecting DD in the evening for kitchen duty. So, now the kitchen is clean when I get home and I don't have to spend my life driving to and from the childminder.


elliott · 07/02/2005 10:32

thanks everyone again.
Well I went along on Friday and have to say I was distinctly underwhelmed. Ok she was nice enough, and I'm sure she would be kind and caring, but I didn't feel there was any real spark there and I felt ds1 in particular be rather bored - no outdoor space and quite a small house inside, so no sand or water play which is what he spends most of his time doing at nursery!
It would also be a pretty expensive option - hourly rate the highest I have heard of round here, she seemed fairly inflexible re holiday dates and pay (we would pay for her holidays - no mention of negotiating some of the dates- our holidays, her sickness, our sickness, bank holidays....) And we would have to provide all food which would be a hassle to say the least. It would work out mroe than £100 per month more per child - which I wouldn't begrudge if I thought she was wonderful, but I didn't.
So back to square one really. Its difficult juggling both their needs - yes I do have sympathy wiht Enid and Uliwa's views about one to one home-based care for under 2s, which is the whole reason for looking elsewhere - but it just doesn't seem that easy to find anyone really good. Might try the nanny option but again it would only be worth it if I really think they'll provide something better than nursery.

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