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CHILDCARE OPTIONS AND FLEXIBLE WORKING

Needle in a haystack

Childcare Options And Flexible Working

Finding the right childcare options when working full time or flexibly can be like finding a needle in a haystack. If you do find that needle it is often a diamond! Parents spend up to 45% of their disposable income on childcare. When it comes to a return to work, families (and in particular, mothers) often have to make a decision as to whether it is even worth working after paying for childcare. Many parents therefore try, to combine flexible working with childcare. An attempt to try and achieve a “happy” medium.

“43% of working women in the UK now work part time or flexibly. The majority of these choosing part time / flexible working to balance childcare.”

Flexible working requests are reassuringly becoming a norm. Not only for those parents returning to work after maternity or paternity leave but also throughout the lifecycle of parenting. A parent’s working arrangements can change several times as their children grow up. As many parents quickly realise, the days of a worrying about how to leave the office at 5pm in order to collect from a nursery at 6pm, are soon replaced by school pick-ups.

Getting Creative

Unfortunately, whilst your working arrangements may be flexible your childcare is inherently inflexible. Therefore, parents are forced to look at creative solutions and combinations in order to meet their needs. Nurseries have set hours; childminders will only pick up from certain schools, school holidays are fixed and so as their childcare is often inflexible. So parents have to seek greater and further working flexibility at certain times of year or at certain times in their child’s life.


So Back To Basics, What Are Your Childcare Options?

Nannies

Nannies provide the most flexible option for childcare when your children are young. Being based from your home if you need to work late, they can also ensure the children are then put to bed and your house is tidy. Nannies are widely regarded as the most expensive option. The reality is that if you have 2 or 3 children to care for, they can be cheaper than nursery fees. Nanny shares (whereby two employers share one nanny) can also provide further financial advantages and is a popular solution for many working flexibly.

Nurseries

Nurseries provide the least flexible childcare but are open all year round, except when your child is ill and they are unable to go. They have set hours and set sessions that you must pay for regardless of whether your child goes and there can be high penalties if you are late.

Childminders

Childminders provide a home from home setting with relatively fixed hours. They do provide more flexibility particularly for families who need less standard hours, shorter days or part-time care. Most will also offer nursery or school drop off and pick up options (although they will only usually pick up from certain establishments).

Family

Family has a benefit of being free, home based and flexible. However it’s important for the family member to be fully committed (such as not taking lots of holidays when you need cover!). Building a network of school families is essential. This network is beneficial not only for those emergency situations when you are running late home but also to arrange swapping playdates or holiday cover. A bit of sharing the load for childcare is a great way of cutting down on summer camp costs.

Au-Pairs

Au-Pairs are a popular choice when children go to school. Like a nanny they will work just for you and can offer 25-30 hours a week providing cover before and after school. Financially they are the cheapest option, providing you have a spare room available for them. However au pairs often have no (or very limited) childcare experience. They often travel to the UK for a cultural experience of only between 6-12 months.


Breakfast Clubs and After School Clubs

Breakfast Clubs and After School Clubs are available not just at your school but also some local nurseries offer a local school collection service and then they care for the children in premises near to the school.

 

So how do you go about finding the right childcare options for your family?

The biggest piece of advice for any parent thinking of childcare is to plan ahead but also to constantly reassess. Childcare needs unfortunately change. Such as when there is a change is circumstances like going to school or changing schools, new additions to the family. Ensure an open and frank relationship with your employer. The key to achieving the “happy” medium is trying to achieve flexibility on all sides.

Ultimately the right childcare option is the one that leaves your children happy, stimulated and safe. One that leaves you with peace of mind. Also one that creates the less stress possible for busy working parents, whether working full-time or flexibly.

Parental Choice the essential “one-stop shop” to help you make the right decision on your childcare needs. Parental Choice offer childcare searches including nurseries, childminders, nannies and au pairs plus support employers of nannies with all their payroll and employer responsibilities. For more information on your childcare options and how Parental Choice can help visit www.parentalchoice.co.uk and quote MJPC5.

Need help on deciding which career path to follow? Why not check out The Mum’s Enterprise events!

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Surviving the un-survivable – travelling with children

Travelling with children

It’s finally Summer, the season we’ve all been waiting for! You’ve been working hard all year and now is the time to pack those new bikinis, that over-sized hat you’ll likely never wear and of course, more shoes than the number of days you’re away.

But before you get carried away with the packing there’s one thing to remember – getting there. With the children.

Going on a Summer holiday isn’t quite as relaxing as it was in your child-free days but it doesn’t mean it’s any less fun! So, to help you through, here are some top tips for stress-free travelling with your little darlings.

1. Mentally prepare
You know that they’re likely to get restless at passport control. Of course they’re going to go hyper after you’ve used them as bribes to combat aforementioned boredom. Yes, they’re going to start play fighting at 3am when you’re trying to find your hire car, and yes, one of them is going to get hurt.

Best thing to do? Don’t think too far ahead. Get through the problem in front of you at the time, the rest you can deal with when you get to it.

2. I Spy or iPad?
For long car journeys, I Spy – plus other car games – is a sure-fire winner. It encourages the children to look around them, see the world go past and can spark discussions where they may learn a thing or two.

I Spy however is not recommended on a plane, for obvious reasons. In this instance, the iPad (DS, Hudl, phone…) is the clear winner.

After all, no one wants to spend hours in a metal container next to an overweight gent who has just been identified as ‘F for Fat’ by your child.

3. Travel according to your routine
While this isn’t always possible, it’s wise to coincide your flight or long car journey with your child’s nap or bedtime.

By getting them into their PJ’s, brushing their teeth and reading them a story, they know these signals all lead to going to sleep. Although undoubtedly this will take much longer than usual due to the change of surroundings and activity going on around you, having them fall asleep as soon as possible means no cranky kids and a peaceful journey for you.

4. Pretend they’re not yours
Extreme but effective. Loudly exclaim your displeasure (getting fellow passengers on your side), put the pillow over your head and ignore them.

That, or wine.

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THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is very, very, tired.

THE MUMMY of mummyjobs has spent nearly every night of the last 2 weeks on the phone to the GoDaddy web development team in Arizona. This time it’s because she has accidentally deleted half of the Home Page (F.M.L.) and at 2am, CANNOT be arsed to try and fanny around figuring out how to get it back.

THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is aware that she has a very tricky 6am meeting with her 2 daughters in the morning that she will definitely NOT be allowed to call in sick for, or cancel and that the 3rd glass of Malbec in her hand was probably not the best idea she’s had this evening.

The clock is ticking past 2.30am… THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is now very tired (and a little tipsy), ‘GoDaddy Arizona’ has finally informed her how to fix her erroneous deletion of half the Home Page, but THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is still not able to rest.

No.

THE MUMMY of mummyjobs has been asked by her PR agency, Harvey & Hugo, to write a Blog about why she wanted to make the Mummyjobs.co.uk community site in the first place?

THE MUMMY of mummyjobs is currently so tired, that she cannot remember why she thought starting her own business would be a good idea and is not at all pleased that she cannot get out of writing the blog, she can’t, she was supposed to write said blog, 2 weeks ago…

So THE MUMMY of mummyjobs wrote;

“Hi.

My name is Cheney Hamilton and I’m a border line Alcoholic (that’s a joke, although I do enjoy the occasional bottle of wine!), as well as THE MUMMY of mummyjobs.co.uk

I am currently serving my second sentence of maternity leave (I’m 7 months in) and somewhat surprisingly I have grown very fond of my inmates. They are fast becoming my best friends and keep me constantly entertained.

My first sentence was spent longing for my adult counterparts and a life outside the front door; amazing how a little thing like a child born with hip dysplasia can so easily and fundamentally rock your world – The short story?  My Bea was trussed up in a Pavlik Harness at 6 weeks, Frog Cast at 8 weeks, all clear at 4 months, relapse at 6 months, surgery at 10 months, full body Hip Spica until she was 13 months old; which at least allowed us to have an Happy effing 2nd Christmas, thank you very much.  The long story was filled with tears, trauma and a profound wonder at how resilient that this little life which we had brought into the world, could be. (If you’re interested, or anyone out there is going through this – please do get in touch – I’ll give you the long story with a happy ending!)

Anyway, as you might imagine, I went running back to work after 5 months – thank the Lord for the MP who allowed parents to split maternity leave, thank him even more for my more than willing husband!

Back to my second sentence and I can honestly say that I had every intention of going back to my career. My employer was great with everything I went through with Bea, I really couldn’t have asked for more than the understanding and support I received. But this time something felt different…

It’s true that I still miss adult interaction and the buzz of being on a sales floor, but there is something deeply gratifying in spending the days with my children and watching them grow. Wondering where they learnt that funny phrase, or marvelling at how quickly they grasped the concept of things that we as adults would take an age to learn.

So I started to map out how I could make it work; be home with the kids, but still have a career and bring home the bacon.  For me it was simple. I took something that I was good at and merged it with the one thing I will always need help and support with. Digital Sales & Motherhood – I will let you decide which is which! So mummyjobs.co.uk was born – and Not to get mums a job, as one might think from its name; but to be a tool, a confidant, a support and hopefully a friend who helps mums get on with the job of being a mum, in whatever form she needs it.

So that’s what I did and why I did it.

I’m happy to say my girls are both well – they are already confident, strong, independent women who know what they want and exactly how to get it…

They are 2½ and 7 months old respectively.”

It’s now 3am, THE MUMMY of mummyjobs has only 1 more sleep until the launch of mummyjobs.co.uk as well as that very early meeting with the kids. Her last bottle of Malbec has just dripped its last drop – it must be time for bed.

Good Night.