I’ve mentioned before that my work situation is a bit complicated. This is because I was on a temporary contract before maternity leave so I don’t have a job of my own to go back to. I will be given another post (teaching posts are allocated by the council here rather than schools recruiting their own teachers) but as yet I don’t know where or on what terms. I’m hoping to back to the school I was at before having Toby but that isn’t guaranteed. I am planning on going back to work in August (the start of the school year in Scotland) but I probably won’t find out anything about where I’ll be working until June. There is also a slight possibility that I could go back before the summer holidays and also a chance I might go back part-time instead of full time. Whenever I go back to work it’s getting to the time that we really need to start choosing childcare for Toby.
All this uncertainty makes arranging childcare a little tricky. We have had to make a start though because I don’t want to risk leaving it too late to get a place anywhere. So just before Christmas I started looking at local nurseries. I had considered a childminder but to be honest without any personal recommendations I didn’t really know how to go about finding one. And on reflection I think nursery will be good to help Toby’s social development and give him access to lots of different activities.
I asked some of my friends for recommendations of nurseries (and lots of them have kids who all went to the same one) and also looked at some other local options. Location is important as it need to be somewhere I can drop the hubby off at the train station, drop Toby off at nursery and then make my own way to work. I narrowed it down to a few options and arranged some visits. I liked the fact that most of the nurseries said I could visit without an appointment, that way you know you are seeing a true reflection of the place.
So off we went on our visits. To be honest I didn’t really know what I was looking for. Obviously somewhere, clean, with friendly staff, with plenty of resources, with happy, engaged children. I wanted somewhere where food was provided and cooked on the premises and very importantly, somewhere that would be happy to deal with Toby’s cloth nappies!
The first nursery we visited was the one recommended by lots of my friends. It is in a converted Victorian house so I felt that some of the rooms were quite small, but it was well-equipped and the staff were all very happy and friendly. I liked the fact they had a separate cot room for the younger children to have their naps and it met all my other criteria. My only slight reservation was that I saw two children playing in just their vests and nappies – I don’t know why it bothered me but it just seemed a bit odd that they didn’t have any other clothes on. So far so good, in fact the main drawback with this nursery is that it is very popular and they don’t know their availability for August yet, meaning we would have to go on a waiting list with no guarantee of a place.
The second nursery we went to look at was purpose built so it seemed to have more space. However, we went on Christmas Eve so the hubby could come too and so they only had 18 children in when usually they can have up to 89. I’m sure if we went back when it was full it wouldn’t seem so spacious! Again this one seemed fine but it hasn’t had great inspection reports in the past. Although the most recent report showed they had made improvements it still makes me a bit wary. I also didn’t like the fact that at this one there was no separate area for the children to sleep. If Toby’s current behaviour is anything to go by he needs his naps and I can’t imagine that he would sleep in a room with half the children still playing. So this one was pretty much crossed off the list.
The third and final nursery we visited (there was another one which had been recommended to me but they don’t have any spaces) I think is going to be the one we go for. It’s fairly new, having only been open a year or so and again is in a converted Victorian house. One of our NCT class babies has just started going there one day a week and he seems to be getting on fine so far. Again the staff were very friendly; the manager is a scout leader and as all my family are involved in scouting I always take this as a good sign! Food is prepared on the premises which is great, there is plenty of space (including a garden) and again they are happy to deal with the cloth nappies. I do want to go and have another look round before we commit to anything, this time really just focusing on the room Toby would go into. With all the nursery visits I found that there was a lot to take in, and although it’s important to look at the whole place, I’m not too concerned at the moment with what the older children are doing. The other benefit of this nursery (although not the deciding factor) is that it is £6 a day cheaper than the other one. I know I shouldn’t put a price on my child’s care, but over the year that is an awful lot of money. And it’s money that we can then use for things like days out and family holidays that we may not otherwise be able to afford.
It’s hard to imagine what my six month old baby will be like when he goes to nursery. He’ll have just turned one. Will he be walking by then? Maybe. Actually, that is quite important because it might affect which room he goes into. Most children move from the babies room to the toddlers at somewhere between 12 and 15 months, but it really depends when they are walking confidently. In a way I think it would be easier for Toby to go straight into the toddlers room to avoid to much changing about, but then I don’t want him to be intimidated by all the bigger kids. Anyway, I suppose that’s all stuff we can worry about nearer the time. For now I can’t imagine my little boy going to nursery at all. Let alone to have someone else looking after him for more of the week than I am. I would love to go back to work part time but full time just makes more sense at the moment. For one, it makes it more likely I will get my old job back, and secondly we are planning another baby quite soon (I know!!) so if I go back to work full time I’ll get full maternity pay.
So there we are. I think we’ve made our choice. How did you choose on childcare for your children? Is there anything I should have considered that I’ve forgotten about? Help me out, I’m new at this!