This is a much requested post AND one I’ve been promising to write for a long time, too. It baffles me in a way and saddens me somewhat too — because it speaks to a much deeper issue really doesn’t it?
Funnily enough, this post was supposed to go live last week (I post every other Wednesday) but guess what? Yep. Childcare issues. Then I went into a four-day solo parenting stint and this post was, naturally, pushed to the bottom of the pile.
And it got me thinking about a few things surrounding childcare; how expensive it is, sure; how HARD it is, yep; but, mostly, how completely unreliable it ultimately is when you’re the primary caregiver. Which, let’s face it, falls on the mother in a heterosexual partnership.
To that end, in the depths of my very privileged despair I took to Instagram and posted this…
View this post on Instagram
It’s one of those days when you feel a bit like working is harder work than it’s worth, you know? I realised I’d stopped booking stuff into nursery days because I’m constantly in fear of #thecall & if I have a bad month (like the past few) I come home with pennies after I’ve paid my share of the bills….. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I know I sound ungrateful. I’m not. I’m so privileged to have the options I do, and the choices I’m able to make. But FML people….. motherhood and working? Yep, I’m losing that battle right now. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In closing, I felt the picture to best go with this caption was a recycled image of my feet with inexplicable petals thrown in. As you were ❤️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Unsurprisingly I’m not the only one who feels like this. It is, of course, a failing of the heteronormative, patriarchal society we live in that sees so many women dropping out of the workplace. It’s not always because they choose to be a ‘home-maker’ *cringes* but often because the cost of working is too high.
Yep, that’s right. It COSTS women to work. I never EVER thought that would be a consideration in my life, something I’d stay up worrying about or a choice I would have to make. Naive? Yeah, possibly. But realistically, when we are told our GCSE options will affect our future careers (and, by the way, what do you want to be when you grow up?) and shoved into a ‘careers advice’ session were you told about the glass ceiling you’d eventually hit?
Me neither. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing about my career so far. Nothing. But even so, I would’ve loved a little heads up that maternity pay is hard going, that freelance life is best started sooner rather than later and that NOPE, you probably won’t be able to work while the baby naps.
C’est la vie, amiright? So let’s quit bitching and moaning (actually, please NEVER quit that) and have a look at the main childcare options for working parents.
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Nursery / Daycare
I intrinsically chose this option, not sure why. And I have to say, it’s been the best choice for Anaïs who is incredibly extroverted and loves being around people.
Anaïs started nursery aged five months (I think?) and when I look back, that’s kinda mad! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would do it again and we absolutely adored her first nursery, which was a tiny townhouse in west London run by the most incredible Spanish lady (it was a bilingual nursery) I just can’t believe she was there before she could even walk.
In Brighton, her first nursery didn’t work out (which was a real lesson in trusting your instincts) but the second one has been amazing. Anaïs loves it, we love them and overall it’s been overwhelmingly positive.
But there are downsides to nursery/daycare and here they are…..
- Safe, great for children who love playing with others.
- Often great activities; our nursery has a weekly artist, musician and they take trips to the local old people’s home too.
- Good facilities; we visited one with an indoor soft play! Madness.
- Probably makes transition to school easier, but who knows…
- Great if you want to get chicken pox out of the way quicksmart. Ditto that hand, foot and mouth and all other gross-sounding illnesses 😉
- Expensive. I pay £800 pcm for four ‘short days’ of 8-4pm.
- All nurseries have different price inclusions, which if missed can add up.
- ZERO leeway with illness, which spreads like wildfire. Kids be filthy 😉
I’ve never used a childminder but know people who have. I looked into it in preparation for going back to work and met with a few childminders through the Childminder.org website.
- Many childminders have a setup akin to a nursery, with several children and other childminders.
- It’s normally cheaper than nursery.
- Your little one might find it easier to build a stronger bond with a childminder, as opposed to having several different caregivers.
- Normally, you have to drop off and pick up (as per nursery) but it’s a little more flexible with some childminders.
- I found it a bit of a faff trying to find a childminder who ticked all the boxes; location, price etc etc
- You need to be a little more vigilant and ensure you check your childminder meets legal criterias. Childcare.org gives guidelines.
- I suppose that were a childminder to be ill, you might be a bit screwed although they do seem to work with others to negate this.
This isn’t an option for lots of us so feel free to grumble and skip it. But even if it is an option, it mightn’t be the best one anyway. Helpful stuff, Luce….I know, I know!
- It’s normally free!
- Who could be more trustworthy than family? I guess that’s subjective….
- You get lovely family time as a bonus. Again, I guess this depends on your family dynamics!
- It’s potentially not as reliable
- You’re at the mercy of someone who isn’t being paid….this can be awkward.
- If you hate your family, it’s probably not your favourite day of the week.
- You are unlikely to get full-time childcare with this option, although I do know folks who have.
I looked into this option when I still lived in London as it felt like a really cool option. I was keen to get out of the flat and co-work and I wasn’t yet sure I was ready to leave Anaïs with a stranger full-time. So this seemed like a happy medium.
I visited a few, but quickly realised genuine co-working creche facilities are few and far between and, sadly, none that I saw did both well. It wasn’t right for me, but I know a couple of people who have found it a great option.
- Your baby will be close by which is great if you’re nervous about leaving them.
- It’s a great way to meet like-minded folk in the same, or a similar boat as you.
- It can be a pricey option, although the places I viewed varied wildly so shop around.
- If you hate the idea of co-working, it’s crap. But then, why would you choose this option….
- You have to lug a baby, and all of your work gear into an office….which didn’t work for me with no car!
Working around naps
Nope. Just nope. The amount of people who still shame me when I tell them that, “No, I can’t write 1000 words for a national newspaper while my toddler plays with her toys.” is alarming.
It might work for you, and that’s great. But for me? It’s a hard no.