Ok. I will hold my hands up now and be honest.
I was a snob when it came to childcare.
There, I said it, it’s out there, please don’t judge me.
For many years I had Au Pairs to help with the kids. This is not linked to my previously mentioned snobbery but because I had a commute to London and also did shift work. They helped me before and after school and they helped with the kids homework and the kids washing and tidying. Often they were like family and I am still in touch with some of them now. Before au pairs I had tried a child-minder but it hadn’t worked out so well. Nothing dramatic, just not right for us at that time.
I never tried a nursery back then because they were already school age when I went to work but I always imagined them a bit cold and clinical. I was actually (since I am being honest) anti-nursery and so never thought in a million years I would be using one now!
Like Beth, we used the childcare app initially to find nannies looking for positions. I have used it before and urge you all to download it. It soon became clear that it was out of our price range. The cost for full time care covering 6am until 7pm(ish) a day was around £2k a month. This is not unreasonable for those hours and 1:1 care; we just literally could not justify it, not even as a nanny share. I was gutted and then terrified because I could not work out how we could manage our travel needs and Marnie’s baby needs into any other option.
We then used the app to search for child-minders and discovered there was 1 covering the whole of our local area with loads either side in the wrong direction. This posed an issue with what location would be best etc. I found some amazing ladies I would have loved to have used to look after Marnie at a local rhyme time session, but they lived right out of the area we needed and were either taken or worked 4 days a week. I could not find anyone local that I was comfortable with.
So that’s when I reluctantly agreed to go look at nurseries with Martin. He was less biased and more realistic ( you can see how this marriage works). I made a few appointments and we went to take a look.
· First one was too chaotic and the baby room didn’t make a great impression. Great hours and lovely staff but no way.
· The second one was empty (it was august and the quietest time of the year) and just seemed a bit lifeless. The lady who showed us round was lovely and the location and hours were fab.
· The third one was just right. The baby room manager was someone I wanted to be friends and the girls in the room are the nicest and kindest girls I met who also have a bit of personality! The environment was bright, modern (clean) and welcoming and they had a great menu. The only downside was they didn’t do great opening hours. 8-6 with addition 15mins available for extra money.
Now without this sounding like I am taking the p***, it was literally like goldilocks and the three bears!
In the end we decided we could make the hours work by sharing it out and with me working one day a week from home.
Marnie started 3 weeks early as I was so worried about her settling in. I needn’t have as I think she loves it more than being at home.
I had a full “get out” plan too if she didn’t settle in the nursery environment. I don’t know what it actually was, but I knew I would plan something………
I cried hard and frequently about the decision. I was terrified she wouldn’t get hugs. Such a crazy and ridiculous worry to have now when I reflect. The nursery is truly a home from home (but with 15 other kids in the room) and she’s perfectly at ease there. She gets excited when we arrive in the car which I take as a positive and she’s even more excited to see me at the end of the day which I take as another positive!