When you are about to return to work after having a baby the search for childcare can be one of the most daunting experiences. Do you go nursery or childminder? Do you try somewhere close to home or work? Do you get a minder to look after your little one in your own home or their setting? Do you use a family member?
For me I have no family I could get to look after my son so that was never an option and to be fair some of them I wouldn’t have them mind a hamster for the weekend…
So, I signed up to a childminder network online, the childminders put up their websites, links, references and you can read to your hearts content. You put up a bit of info about you and your requirements and off you go. I had a brief list and contacted them, did a few visits and you can pretty much get a vibe if they are your type of person. For me I chose this option as I have never liked the idea of nurseries, I don’t know why, just a personal choice, maybe just the idea that it is too many little people all in the same place!
Kieran started with his first childminder at 9 months old, we did a few ‘break in’ sessions and he quickly fitted into their little group as the lady had two other mindees at that time as well as her own son, between the ages of 3 and 4. They all loved having a little baby who was learning to do all sorts of things, mainly at this point crawling into boxes and eating biscuits.
Kids learn by example and copying. They watch everything and I soon learned that Kieran was catching on, at about a year old, to various negative behaviours that the minders own son got away with. Awkward. Her son would scream and yell every time anyone came to the door, even at 7.30am and this ‘welcome’ or ‘farewell’ really was starting to grate on me, not to mention annoy the hell out of her neighbours. Kieran started to hit me, his tiny fist would bunch and he would pull his arm right back like he was taking a swipe at me and usually in response to me suggesting we do something he didn’t want to. I had seen my minders son hit her in temper, hammering her chest with his fists in temper when trying to get her attention or in refusal to get dressed etc. I ended up having to actually say to him that it wasn’t nice to hit mummy and I didn’t want Kieran doing that to me so maybe he could show Kieran how to be a good boy…..
She was also into home schooling, and she was by now pregnant with her second child and when baby came along it was the time her eldest should have been going to school. It was time for a change.
We moved to a new house around this time and so the search started again. With the same plan, I found my current minder. It turns out I moved into her daughter’s old house and her husband works for the company doing various work on the house! I met her and she showed me round and I just got such a good vibe. She looks after her granddaughter a lot and another little boy the same age as Kieran. This move was the best one I have ever made. She doesn’t just see it as a way to make a few quid while staying at home, the days are filled with activities, outings, dance classes, learning and I can honestly say Kieran has thrived so much in her care this last eight months. She is so flexible making my day easier as if I get held up at work I know with a call she is fine to keep Kieran a little longer, perhaps give him tea but it is all done with no tutting or a reminder that she only does 6 hours a day.
For us right now it is a perfect arrangement but I now know that nothing stays the same forever and it is okay to make changes, especially if you start to become unhappy with an arrangement. I had actually put off moving house earlier as Kieran had seemed settled with the first minder. Children are resilient little beings and for us our new minder simply made it all happen. Nothing was a problem and we discuss all the things he does, she suggests new activities (he has recently started DiddiDance, a dance class for toddlers) aimed at his development, and takes him to lots of toddler groups and he now has a few little friends that he chatters on about.
When you see them so happy and settled you know that going back to work and taking that chance with someone you didn’t know before now was the right thing to do. Finding the right person can take some time, but when you do it is like finding gold.
This blog first appeared on www.meetothermums.com, a great website especially for people like me who have relocated! Give it a go!