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      08.06.2009 10:57
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      I have to work and have no choice but to use childcare. My eldest child is three and went to Nursery aged 15 months she began in the January and ended in that September and all I can say is it was the longest 8 months of my life the nursery was to into routine and order for us it wasn't the right environment. In September she began playgroup without a backward glance and loves every minute and I believe if given the choice would go everyday! Last week my husband was woken at 6am to be advised that it was breakfast time and to get up and she was fully dressed! I am often jealous of the playgroup staff as she is totally besotted, however it does mean that I leave her and go to work and I can become the professional office worker and know that she is having a great time. My youngest began nursery last November and to say I was broken hearted at being parted from her would not be an exaggeration. Yet she is settled and happy and loves it its homely and they really care. Indeed they have called to see how she is as has been poorly and that to me is great care. I would prefer to win the lottery and not have to work. I have a great work home life balance I work part-time I finish in time to pick up from Playgroup and have two days to be Mummy. I do feel that Child-care is expensive however for me cost was not important it was the quality of care and ensuring that my children are safe and happy and I do believe that this is the case. Children grow up so fast and should be able to play and have fun not just confirm to statistics go with one that looks fun and trust your gut instinct indeed the most expensive nursery in our area came across as the least caring and the member of staff who showed us around ignored a crying child. Another major chain nursery ignored my questions and spent all the time telling me that they were oversubscribed and I should sign up immediately and rang everyday for a week afterwards needless to say I didn't! Remember that there is government help available for the cost of the childcare and look at your options I work three days instead of 2.5 days and do less hours but actually have happy children and more money towards the childcare! Remember excellent childcare is a great reward as someone else has different skills to you and can enrich your children's lives and in today's society for many of us there is no choice but to work it is making the best of the options available. Remember that there is government help available for the cost of the childcare and look at your options I work three days instead of 2.5 days and do less hours but actually have happy children and more money towards the childcare! Remember excellent childcare is a great reward as someone else has different skills to you and can enrich your children's lives and in today's society for many of us there is no choice but to work it is making the best of the options available. Below are my top tips for childcare. 1) Trust your instincts ( if it doesn't feel right it isnt right) 2) Trust your child if they are not happy then it isn't right ( The nursery I Liked my daughter cried at every time she never gave a backward glance at the new one) 3) Ask Questions ask lots and lots of questions ( There is a good starting list on Government website Directgov.co.uk) 4) It's your child any nursery Pre-School should encourage you to ring up drop in when you like ( I probably rang every 10 mins when she first started I was definetally worse to settle than my children! I still ring at least once she's my baby!) 5) Look at your options what is your ideal I worked 2 full days and 1 half day before I had my youngest and it really didn't work the eldest would not have been able to go to Pre-School and then I would have had two lots of nursery fees and it was not viable so I asked for 3 days until 2.30 I got it this means she still gets to go to pre-school. 6) 6) Loose the Guilt embrace the time to be someone other than Mummmeee!! I really appreciate the time I spend with my children but I also like being me too! Good luck and happy hunting remember good child care works in additional to you enhancing your foundation.

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        22.04.2009 02:02
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        Well worth the time and effort

        Childcare is big business. I live in a small town but even I can name three nurseries within a short drive and half a dozen at least in the area and my youngest is 17 years old so way beyond the nursery stage. Childcare is also expensive, even with vouchers, which are money saving as you can pay for them out of your gross salary. My two grandsons go to nursery three days per week and it costs over £700 per month. When you add the costs of transport, working clothes, lunches etc it makes it difficult for a young mum to actually make much from working. Step up to the mark granny. Yes I provide free child care two days per week, me and a whole army of grand-parents help our children and grandchildren with the bonus for us of having lots of quality time with the little angels. There are some drawbacks that I should point out; exhaustion, exhaustion and let me think............ oh yes exhaustion. I sometimes wonder how I brought my own four up as these two really do tire me out. I guess mother nature knew what she was doing when she arranged the menopause! Other drawbacks? Well you go back to the days of a house full of toys, chicken nuggets for lunch yet again and being an expert on the latest things on children's TV. You also have to read all those books again. I mean with three sons and two grandsons can you even imagine how many times I've read Thomas the Tank Engine or the Mr Men books? I can't even hazard a guess myself. The advantages? Well it keeps you fit. Getting two littlies in and out of the car, sorting out the buggy (believe me you need an engineering degree to cope with the car seats, buggies etc.) and chasing them round. Cheaper than the gym and more fun too. You get to be a real part of their lives, not just a quick visit at the weekend. You know their likes and dislikes, who their friends are and sometimes you hear things that you don't tell mom and dad you have heard (like what mommy said about auntie May or why daddy has no money.) The thing I have realised is that I have set the precedent and my other three children will probably expect the same help when they have children. All I can say is "Hurry up before I get to old and feeble to cope."

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          04.08.2002 21:49
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          As every parent knows, the formative years of our children's lives, are when we need to protect them most, the years when they have neither the understanding nor the means to fully protect themselves from the everyday dangers that face us all and in particular, the issue of skin cancer and suncream. Now like me, you have all probably read or heard the reports in the media relating to the effects of the suns u. v rays on our skin and especially our children's skin, and also like me, i imagine that all parents who have heard of these have been suitably worried and taken the reported precautions of providing high factor suncream for our children to be applied for their protection whenever they require it. Which brings me to my point, The cheapest high factor suncream available to us in the area we live (south east kent),is around £6-£7, the higher factor brand named creams costing anything up to £11? My two children are aged two and four and during the average summer months we easily use at least one 100ml tube a month, so over a four month period we have to pay usually around £47.00 to protect our children, just as the government health departments suggest. But what if you have 4 children, and are living on your own, who struggles to find enough money to feed and clothe her children never mind finding around £94.00 extra in the summer months to protect her family, so what's the answer, keep her kids indoors for 4 months during daytime?,or make them always wear long sleeves and long trousers, along with a large hat to protect their faces. Now i don't claim to be an expert on skin cancer by any means, but if there is a risk of your children getting caught in a flu epidemic in winter, the government will pay for an injection to lessen the chances of them catching it, and flu in the mainstream is a relatively short term virus, but skin cancer is something that takes a lot longer to develop and when it does it hits a lot harder . So the message as it stands is, if you cant afford to protect your children, then keep them indoors in the summer months or let them go out and face the risks. Surely this policy is wrong, and surely it is in the Governments own interest to provide a high factor suncream on the NHS for the children of familles who cant afford to pay these prices to protect their kids, or later pick up the NHS bill to treat the resulted casualty's of this 'If You Cant Afford To Buy Fry' culture, we are living with now. i would appreciate any thoughts or comments on this subject.

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            26.03.2002 19:39
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            My husband has a good(ish) job, but we could always do with a bit of extra cash, especially at the end of the month, so that is why I looked into getting a job, but the cost of getting my daughter cared for by a proffesional is more than we can afford, and it really wouldn't be worth me working. In my area (Derbyshire) the government have a scheme that says all 3 year olds get a free nursery place, weather it be at a private nursery or a council run one, for 2.5 hours every day. Yes this does help those that work, but at the nursery my daughter attends for her free 2.5 hours it would still cost £24 for a whole day (8.30am-5.30pm), I would have to have a really good job to afford this. I also looked into childminders, these tend to charge about £2.00 - £2.50 per hour, not as bad, but still quite alot when you work out how much you would be forking out for a full time job, you really wouldn't come out with much left. So, if the government want us Mums to get back into work then something is going to have to give! We need cheaper childcare, it's as simple as that. Unless you have reliable friends or relatives that can care for your child for free, or you can work when your husband/partner is at home or you have a good wage, then basically you are stuffed!!!

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              22.10.2001 01:54
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              Eavesdrop on two working moms at lunch, on a plane, even in a boardroom between meetings. Chances are they'll be comparing notes on child care. At a time when 40 percent of women in the workforce have children under the age of eighteen and more mothers of young children work than don't, the need for good, dependable day care is critical. I think that without trustworthy day care, working parents (such as myself) aren't productive. According to a 1999 study by the Families and Work Institute, 26 percent of employees with kids under thirteen have had child care problems in a three month period. Such difficulties translate into ineficiency, tardiness, and absenteeism. Probably no other factor is as important in predicting how satisfied a working mother is with the quality of her life than the success of her child care arrangements. I once shared a nanny with a friend who also worked part time. We each got two and a half days of care, plus backup baby sitting when we needed extra hours. Roughly one-third of working families take their tots to someone else's house for the day. Two positives come into play here. Not only is family day care usually the least expensive option, but the best of such setups offer a warm and comforting atmosphere, a reasonable care-giver to child ratio, and the fun of playing with other youngsters. I think it's less stressful for little kids to be in a gome, with toys and pets around, than in an institutional setting. WHAT'S KEY IN A GOOD HOME DAY-CARE SETTING? - Find a caregiver who is loving and really likes her/his job. - Ask whether she has any formal child care training and how she/he structures the day: Things usually go more smoothly if there's an activities schedule-with some flexibility. - Look for someone who follows standard business practices: Charges an hourly rate that is reasonable for your area, has a set policy regarding illnesses, holida ys, and vacations, and makes plans for contacting parents in the event of an emergency. - Use only family day-care providers who are licensed by your state. While this is no guarantee of quality, it does show that minimum health and safethy standards have been met. - Be alert to any potential safety hazards. "When you evaluate a family day-care home, ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen to your child there." Accidental injuries are the biggest health problem among children ages one to four, the very ages they are most often in day care. For working moms with an infant or several young children and for those who work long, unpredictable hours, this may be the best solution. Such a convenience can make the whole family's schedule run more smoothly. It's usually the most expensive form of child care thought, one that only 3 percent of the population is currently using. Costs can range from just a few dollars an hour in some parts of the Country. Plus, watching all my friends' children in day care go through ear infection after ear infection convinced me that this would be a better solution, at least for the time being. When choosing child care that will work for your family, you'll do best to look at your options from a positive perspective. Ask yourself which form of child care will add the most to your child's life. Will she/he be happiest in an environment where the child gets to play with other children? Is a live in sitter, who can arrange play dates and drive to activities, the best solution> Do the facilities and structure of a commercial center appeal to you? Child care doesn't have to be viewed as substitute care, it can provide enrichment for your youngster. If you've taken the trouble and had the luck to find a wonderful person or place for your little one, both of you will benefit from the experience.

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                30.09.2001 21:30
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                I have just been to a Children’s Fun Day, organised by the Blackpool Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership and held at the local sports centre. Apart from having a really fun time with the children, Clowns, Face painting, Decorating biscuits and cakes, Drawing, Circus Skills, and the rest, I have found some useful information I thought I would pass on to all of you who might be looking for Childcare. The Government produced a National Childcare Strategy in 1998, which required all local authorities to set up an Early Years and Childcare Partnership (EYDCP), which are made up of local organisations who have an interest in the Early Years Education and Childcare. The aim of the Strategy is to provide a quality childcare place for every parent who needs it by 2004. (Information from a sheet produced by Blackpool EYDCP) At the fun day there were people from different types of childcare, from Pre-School Learning Alliance and their Play-Schools, to Private Nurseries and PiP Integration, which helps to integrate “Special Needs” Children into the mainstream Nursery or Play Group situation, to Childminders. In the information that I collected on my way around was a web site address for the National Child Minders Association. On my return, I promptly logged on and had a look at the site. The site offers advice to anyone who is, or would like to be a registered Child Minder, Information on Legal Requirements and Voluntary, but very useful training and certification that may be undertaken. The address is www.ncma.org.uk Whilst looking through the site, I found a link for people looking for childcare. This link takes you to a National Childcare site run by the Government, and with a simple search you can easily find information on the type of childcare you are looking for, including Child Minders, Nursery, Play Groups and After School Care. The search involves either putting in a Post Code and click ing search, or clicking on an area of a map of the UK, then on up to Three Towns or One Region within the resulting Area Map. I clicked on North West, then Central Blackpool and came up with a screen offering the different types of childcare that I might be interested in. I clicked on After School Clubs and found three in my area along with contact details for the individual scheme. There is also a contact number for your local EYDCP who will be able to advise you if there are any other schemes that haven’t been added to the data base yet. The address for this is www.childcarelink.gov.uk I hope that some of this information is of help. The one thing that I think is really important when choosing childcare is that you can see that your child is happy, and that you are “happy” to leave your child in the care of the person providing the service. Ratings below do not really apply.

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                  27.09.2001 07:05
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                  If you have children under the age of 5 then a one o’ clock club might be the place for you. The “clubs” are situated in various parks and are run by the local council and best of all they are free (although some may charge a small fee). The club is decorated inside with all the children’s work and throughout the year different festivals are celebrated to honour our diverse culture. The inside of the club is set up like a nursery with a vast selection of toys covering all levels of development. There is sand, water and painting to choose from and everyday there is a special activity where the children make things. There is also a home corner where the children explore the world of make believe and dress up from the selection of fancy dress clothes. In the corner of the room is a quiet area where the children can sit down and read a book or have someone read them a story, some might even like to have a nap. The outside area is fenced off so that it is free from dog’s mess and unwanted visitors and it has a large selection of slides, bikes, and other play equipment The one o’ clock club is managed by two staff (sometimes more) employed by the council to run the club, but they do not look after the children, this must be the parents or carers responsibility. At a certain time you can get a cup of tea or coffee for 25p-30p,and soft drinks 10p and biscuits 3p for the little ones. There is also toilets and a Nappy changing area with use of a microwave for heating up bottles or food and the staff will bend over backwards to meet your needs. I have described the physical aspects of a one o’ clock club but not the emotional side, for many parents/carers bringing up children, especially in built up areas these places are a life line. Imagine living on your own in a high rise flat, bringing up three kids without a garden and nowhere safe to play, or moving to an area with a new born baby not speaking to anyone day after day. It would soon get to you wouldn’t it? Here at the one o clock club everyone with an under five is welcome, new members are introduced to others and information on the club is given. The children treat the club like a second home and it gives the adults the opportunity to share ideas or problems with other parents. I think the one o’ clock clubs are wonderful and have successfully prepared my children for school by teaching them to be sociable and caring towards others, lets hope they keep these qualities in adult life.

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                    30.05.2001 18:48
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                    To start with, a little background. I have been working with children since I was 15. I have been a gymnastics coach, a kindergarten assistant, a play scheme leader, a babysitter, an English teacher and an au pair, the latter of which I'm now going to bore you with details about. I wanted to spend last summer working abroad, and since I was only 17 years old, my options were limited. I could speak basic Italian and so though that might be a nice place to go, especially since it was one of the few places in Europe that I hadn't been too. Another thing that prompted me to au pair was the BBC documentary broadcast that January. I figured that most of those girls were doing a bad job and that that was the reason bad things happen to them. I also assumed that no matter how bad I was, I couldn't be worse than most of them....... Well, I had fun, and the family were nice enough, and 2 of the 3 children were great to be around. But, that being said, I was working a lot of hours (more than my contract) for very little pay. I had to pay for my own flight and travel on my days off since I wasn't given the use of a car. Another problem with au pairing is that since you live with a family, your time off is never your own. How do you explain to a 2 year old that you can only play with them from 9am to 5pm? You can't, and so you play but you begin to resent it. The pay rate's not that good that you can afford to spend all your time off out of the house doing interesting things. Basically, I was not that happy and so left after about 5 weeks. My advice to people who are thinking of taking on an au pair, is to talk things through with them before they arrive. Make sure you draw up a contract and stick to it, as it's the only fair way (and the only way to try and ensure your au pair will stick it out, hostfamilies). Finally, au pairs are people too. Little 'gifts' now and then, like an extra hour off, or an ice cream when you buy one for the kids, goes a long way!

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                      22.05.2001 02:56
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                      Deciding on childcare for my daughter is one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I am not here to preach about how I got it right, in fact I got it wrong, but at least you can learn from my mistakes. My first decision was whether to actually go back to work. I have always been very career minded, especially as I was told children would probably never come along, so I worked hard to gain promotion, and I was sure after a few months at home with a newborn, I would be craving adult conversation, and the routine that the job brought. In fact, I loved the time I spent with my daughter that I had to think long and hard about my return. My husband and I discussed it, and came to the conclusion that financially, it was necessary for me to work. It was heart wrenching, especially as my daughter was very clingy, and would scream if I passed her to anyone else, including her dad. I had 2 months of precious time with my daughter after I made my decision, and I returned to work when she was 7 months old. I fretted that I would miss out on so much. How would I cope if someone else heard her first words, helped her take her first step? I tortured myself in all honesty. I felt like I was the only woman ever to have gone through this. Then I looked for advice regarding childcare, which I found in abundance, but there was so much of it conflicting that I became very confused, and then there were so many opinions that tried to convince me that leaving my daughter in the care of someone else would be detrimental to her development, lessen our bond and make her more aggressive even!!! Then I spoke to friends in the same position, and they disputed these findings, in fact they thought the opposite. What kind of childcare did I want? We have all heard the horror stories about abuse and neglect, so I proceeded with caution. I chose a childminder, as I felt that it would offer more continuity and more of a home from home feel than a nurse ry. I called my local social services offices, and they sent me a list of registered childminders in my immediate area. I rang round a few that were full, and then made an appointment with Jackie. Darrell and I took Ellis to meet her, and I was all primed with lots of questions, but she totally caught me off balance. She was so nice, so friendly, and her family seemed so nice too. My questions went out of the window, but I would advise anyone to ask the following questions: How long have you been a childminder? How old were the other children you cared for? Do you have CPR and first-aid training? How do you discipline children? Then most importantly, ask for references. I did not, and I cringe even saying that. We paid £2.25 per hour, and we provided meals and nappies. At first Ellis seemed fine, she was not very mobile, so very easy to look after. There were 3 other boys there aged 4-5, and they loved her. Ellis seemed happy enough when I left her, so I was relaxed. The problems started when Jackie decided to take on another boy aged 20 months. Whenever I went to collect Ellis she would be sitting alone, and I would always be told she did not want to eat. Anyone who knows Ellis knows she could eat for England. Then one night, we called Jackie,as we needed Ellis minded the next day, and she said she could not as she needed to get some things for her social services inspection the next week. I admit I blew my stack when I found out that these things were a first aid kit, and socket covers to name a couple of things. Her attitude changed in a moment, and she became very aggressive. In that moment I decided I would never send my daughter back to her. I had paid her £350 in advance for the coming month, and I could not claim it back as I was the one not sending Ellis. To cut this long opinion short, my mums best friends looks after Ellis now for £10 per day, and she gets more stimulation, love a nd discipline that I could have imagined, so while I would recommend a registered childminder, it has not been the best option for me. I do have some bad news though, regardless of the decison you make, you will at times question it, and you will be sure you have made the wrong choice, but stick with what your instincts tell you. No choice is irreversible, so please try not to fret too much.

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                        12.05.2001 05:16
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                        I'm a Nursery Nurse. I went to college for two years to gat this qualification, yet whenever I tell people that I work with children they make comments along the lines of " Oh , so you get paid to play with children all day", which I can't deny that some of the time is what I do! The fact is that child carers have one of the most responsible jobs there is. Oh, not many people appreciate this, and childcare pays a pittance, but we look after children- the most treasured posession a parent has. Why do we do it, you may ask....The answer is because we love it. Nobody can look after other peoples children if they don't enjoy it. I'm going to tell you a little bit about my opinion of some of the areas of childcare available to you. Day Nurseries. A day Nursery is somewhere that you send your child for either a morning, afternoon, or whole day while you work. You have a fixed place and you have to pay for this all year round, even if you can't attend for some reason. Nurseries work on social services carer to child ratios. These ratios mean that your child does not have one to one care. In the baby room of the nursery I worked in you could be feeding three or four babies at a time, or rocking two babies in bouncers with your feet, while giving another baby a bottle. It's not that you don't want to give them the attention, it's just not always possible. I felt sometimes as though these babies were being bought up on a conveyor belt, all goto sleep at the same time, all have dinner at the same time. The children have no time to get an individual routine. They do hawever learn how to share and interact with other children at a very young age. They also start to do educational activities at a young age, so do not find the classroom situation strange when they start school. Nurseries are usually open 8-6 or 7-7, so are good if you have to commute and fit in well with work times. The other good thing that a lot of nur series now offer is after school care. This ensures that if you are unable to pick your child up from school, they will be collected from people thay are familiar with. Childminders Childminders look after children in their home, they have to be qualified and their home has to be registered. If they are not, do not send your child there. They too have ratios set by social services and your child will more than likely be looked after with other children, who are not necesarily the same age as your child. Your child will be cared for in a much less formal way than if they attend a nursery. Nannies I have worked previously as a live in nanny. I'll be honest with you, I hated it. Don't get me wrong, the family were lovely, but I was never off duty. My working hours were 7.30-20.00, but at the end of the day I couldn't escape home. I think it must also be hard for the family as well as they have a stranger living in their house. I'm working as a daily nanny at the moment and I love it, at least I get to go home at the end of the day now!! I think if you are unable to, or choose not to stay at home and look after your own child, this is one of the best options. Your child has consistent one to one care in their own home. You set the rules, and your child will be bought up with these rules. It is so important though, that if you choose this option, you all get on, and you trust the nanny, because if you don't it won't work. One thing you should be prepared for is for your child to become attached to the nanny. The chances are that they will be seeing them more than they will you. I had one unfortunate day with my old family, where the mother was at home, and the child was feeling ill. The mother got upset when he wanted me rather than her. I felt awful. She should have been ressured that her child was happy with me, but it must hurt. Au Pairs I have never worked as an Au pair, but they are unqua lified and are usually cheaper than Nannies. They are often foreign students studying in England. You have got to remember that they may cost less, but they are not qualified in this field of work! These are really your options for day care, excluding relatives. Other childcare such as playgroups, creches and nursey schools are not for parents wanting to return to work, but as a social or educational experience for your child. All of whom i think can be very good for a child, and help prepare them for school. With any option you choose, the carer should be police checked and first aid qualified. Always check this. I hope I have helped you a little bit and that my opinions haven't sounded too biased. The thing to remember is that there are good and bad child carers. You have to look carefully and trust your instinct when deciding what is best for you and your child.

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                          10.05.2001 03:56
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                          Did everybody forget about nannies? There are so many useful opinions here about childminders and nurseries, so I thought it was time to put the case for employing a nanny to care for your children. First of all I must admit a strong bias. I have worked as a nanny myself for several years and loved it! But personal feelings aside, I hope the following provides anyone interested with some useful information. ~~~~What is a nanny?~~~~ Most people's idea of a nanny is either some starchy, Mary Poppins-type old lady, or a 17-year-old from Sweden over here for a year to improve her English. This does not have to be the reality. Nannies are usually trained or experienced people who happen to love working with children. A nanny is a person you employ in your own home to care solely for your children. Someone who can live in your home, or simply turn up for work every morning, ready and willing. ~~~~Why use a nanny?~~~~ Some advantages are pretty obvious from the above description. The nanny has chosen to work with children as a career. It is not someone who has decided that childminding would fit in nicely with caring for their own children. She (or perhaps he, although there is a severe lack of men in this profession, partly due to the bias against male childcare and education workers) is committed to the work and is often thoroughly trained in child development. Nannies care solely for your child(ren). They will be given 100% attention. With the best will in the world, a childminder is unlikely to be able to do this as other children, maybe their own, will be in the house. A nanny can and will plan the whole day around your kid(s) to suit their (and your) needs. You make the rules. Don't want your child to watch TV? Fine. An older child needs to practice the piano, or help with homework? No problem. If the children attend clubs, Brownies, dance lessons or want friends round to pla y, the nanny will take care of it. The nanny works in your home. Your children are cared for in the place that they know best, where they feel safest, surrounded by their own toys and familiar reminders of you. This also means, of course, that you don't have to worry about transporting your kids across town to their childcare every morning. The nanny arrives, you leave for work - simple. Some nannies will also do small household jobs such as ironing or shopping too. No dirty dishes when you get home! ~~~~There must be a drawback~~~~ Well, yes. Money. A nanny will sometimes (but not always), cost you a little bit more. However, nannies can charge as little as £3.50 an hour depending on their experience and the number of hours you need them. Sky-high rates of £7.50 an hour plus perks that I've read about in the media are just not the norm (unless you go through an agency - more on that later!). £5 would be a good rate for an experienced nanny looking after 2 kids. I've personally worked for between £3 and £8 an hour depending on the situation. Now think of your average childminding or nursery fees (and double or triple them if you have more than one child). Isn't it worth a bit more for all the advantages? If you have 2 or more children you could easily end up saving money. ~~~~But I want my child to learn to fit in with other children~~~~ Children at a childminder or nursery certainly gain valuable social skills. However, a good nanny will take your child to coffee mornings or toddler groups regularly, and probably knows a network of people with young children in your area. Anyway, isn't it nice for your child not to have to share *all* the time? ~~~~The best of all worlds~~~~ Employing a good nanny can be a great experience for you and your children. Of course, finding the right person is vital. If you have to advertise for someone, check references tho roughly. Don't go through an agency - they will charge you the earth and often don't carry out as thorough a check as you would assume. I would strongly recommend word-of-mouth s the best way to find a suitable, trustworthy, experienced nanny. So ask your friends, colleagues, local nursery or toddler group if they know of anyone. And when you've found the right one for you, relax knowing your children are in safe hands, being cared for by a dedicated professional person while you get on with your life. In writing this opinion I in no way wish to criticise childminders or nurseries. There are many skilled people working in these areas who do the best possible job within the particular setting. It's just that I feel a nanny is the best of all worlds for working families.

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                            20.04.2001 04:13
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                            As already discussed by others in this topic area, there are a number of childcare options open to working parents. Firstly, mothers/mother-in-laws or other close family member. My mother was not fit enough to look after my daughter full-time. There are a number of considerations with this option. OLDER RELATIVES Are they fit enough to cope with an active toddler? babies are not babies for very long. SOCIAL LIFE Won't they still want a life of their own? Looking after a child full-time is a big commitment, and can lead to resentment, differing opinions and more importantly to you, when you want to spend that short amount of precious time with your partner/ husband/friends, will they be as willing to babysit if caring for the child on a daily basis? PREVIOUS RESPONSIBILITIES/EMPLOYMENT Were they previously working themselves? If yes, there will undoubtedly be financial implications, and as another writer quite corectly pointed out, don't take them for granted. Offer them money for their troubles, chances are most won't take it. if they don't, use some of it to help them/support them in other ways, even if it is just the occasional bunch of flowers, bottle of wine etc. PRIVATE NURSERY My daughter is older now and no longer requires full-time child-care, but I know they don't come cheap. When she was a baby 12 years ago, I was paying the princely sum of £45/week, which doesn't sound a lot, but was a big chunk out of my £100 a week wages as a single mother, and effectly left me worse off than if I had stayed at home on benefits. There are a number of benefits to using a nursery, if one of the carers is ill, it still continues. Your child is with other children all day, and learns to integrate and socialise from an early age. This backfired on me a little, as because my daughter was the youngest there, she was absolutely ruined by the carers and children alike, which ma de her very spoilt. In the nursery my daughter went to, the environment was pleasant, safe and caring, but lacked that certain something I have seen with others, which, unfortunately for me, charged considerably more. Even 12 years ago, the charge for the more upmarket nurseries was c.£80 a week full-time, something I could not afford. I believe the average charge in my locality is around £120-£150 a week, and most expect you to provide your own lunch for that price. If a child is even mildly unwell, the nursery won't take them, if you have a flexible employer, this is not a problem, if not, it is very useful to have a family member close by as back-up. For the more seriously ill child, as far as I'm concerned, the child comes first,and the employer will just have to live with it. Nurserys are very useful if you work full-time, and their hours fit in with your working hours. They are generally in my experience however not very accommodating when the child starts school. CHILD-MINDERS Starting school - time for a child-minder, as my Dad was working and my mum was not well enough to walk to the school. Charges vary from around £2.50 an hour upwards, and they usually look after more than one child, giving your child the chance to socialise. Most are registered for 2-3 children, depending on how many they have of their own, and are subject to very strict regulations by the Local Authority. If you need to find a list of those in your area, contact your local Council, who will provide a list of all registered child-minders in the area, the number of children they are allowed to take, contact details, and what time they are registered to keep children to. I am not aware if this has changed, but when my daughter was young, they could not keep them after 6pm, and they are not allowed to take them after the age of 11, this believe me, presents you with another set of problems, as they are not legally old enough to be left 'home alone' and in my mind, also not mature enough. This is when flexi-time becomes particularly useful, as does the helpful friend, or the close relative. PROBLEMS The main problem with child-minders, if their children are unwell, they can't take yours, and likewise, if they are ill, they can't work either. NANNIES/LIVE-IN or OUT Wonderful if you can afford it and the child is looked after in your own home. Before you discount this idea, investigate it carefully. You will have to pay Employer's NI Costs, but if you have a couple of children it can be cost effective, or if you have a friend with children of a similar age you can share the cost. They can live in or out, depending on the space you have available, and can prevent problems with the child being carted out of the house early in the morning, only to be returning home late in the evening. ============================= Unfortunately, for many women these days, it is sadly not a case of "I can't afford not to return to work", but "Can I afford to work?" There are probably loads of you out there shouting, 'don't work then, a mother's care is best'. Whilst there may be an element of sense and truth in this, there are numerous reasons why a woman wants to work. I would have found it very difficult being a full-time mother, exacerbated by the fact that I lived at home with my wonderfully caring, but very knowledgeable (I am sure those of you who have experienced it know what I mean) parents. Other reasons could include their profession, to lawyers, doctors, solicitors, pharmacists, nurses, police women, and many other professionsals, a break in service would be sufficient to stop their career in its tracks. Why should these women be denied the right to pursue a career that they have worked hard for for so many years. We wouldn't expect this o f a man. Don't have children I hear you say. Easily said, but life isn't that 'black and white'. I genuinely believe that by working, the time I had with my daughter was extra precious, and for a long time my life was a rotation of work and family, offering me no time to greive for the horrendous time I had been through with her father and the breakdown of our relationship. Yes, whilst it is good to keep busy, sometimes, one needs to stop and take check of their situation, I didn't allow myself this, thinking at the time I was doing the right thing, but thats another story. After spending nearly ten years studying, both full and more recently part-time, there is no way that I could change roles, or give up work, should I chose to have another child, not that I am planning this, but as the best and worst amongst us know, the best laid plans..... Anyone still awake out there, this brings me to my final point on childcare. For those of you that have criticised 'spongers' who chose not to work, would it not be realistic to assume that if there was more affordable, quality childcare available, many of these would be tempted into some of the ridiculously low paid employment around? REMEMBER Additional benefits for 'low-paid' working parents have improved considerably since my daughter was born, and 'Working Tax Credit' can subsidise chidcare costs by up to 70%, up to a maximum of £120 a week (check these with the local DSS as they change anually). If you are prepared to work, don't be too proud to accept additional help if it is available, it takes as much courage to return to work as it does to stay at home, both have advantages and disadvantages, and the only person who can make these decisions is yourself and if relevant, your husband/ partner. Sorry guys, maybe I should include wife in there, as I know it is not uncommon for men to stay at home these days. D on't let anyone criticise you for making the decision that best suits the needs of you and your children.

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                              26.02.2001 06:15
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                              I am returning to work tomorrow after six months and was worried about who would have my children I dont trust nannys so i needed someone who I knew ,and who my children knew. I will be working on an evening and my partner(yes I have one)works shifts which makes it awkward,after careful consideration, I decided my partner would have them one week and my friend the following week I trust this friend because she has eight children and grandkids also I grew up with this womens children. I cant understand when people say they cannot get a babysitter or there is no jobs because if you look hard enough there is always a job for you if you want a job that bad then you will find one . I am doing this for my children to give them a better living.

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                                20.01.2001 20:12
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                                Hi! I'm the mother of four perfect children, all walking by nine months, all potty trained by their second birthday, all able to read and write by three. Huh!! No way! We all know this is a fantasy, things are never that easy and each child is an individual. Yes, I do have four children, three girls and a boy, currently aged aklmost 13, 11, 10 and 7 years old. They are all now at full-time school (Hurray!), but before that, I had various experiences of childcare. My first three children all went to a private Nursery school from the age of around two. This was incredibly expensive, but I had a discounted rate through working there myself. This was ideal really, as I wouldn't be actually teaching them, but I was on hand if need be. I wish this kind of teaching was available to everyone for free. It was costing around £3 an hour per child and being private, the nursery was open from 8am til 6pm. While I know some parents have to work or choose to work, it did upset me slightly that a few of the children - usually toddlers - would be at nursery five days a week, for these ten hours. Some children would arrive asleep, we would give them their three meals, change their nappies, look after them completely - then Mum or Dad would turn up at 6pm, ready to take Sleepy Child home to bed! That's not what I call parenting - but that's another rant! This nursery meant that my two brightest children (whether by nature or nurture) could read and write well by the time they started school. They even had French lessons at that age too, which is actually a great age to teach them foreign languages, as they are very receptive, due to them being in the midst of learning their own language at this time. My son has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and dyslexia, and my youngest daughter has ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) and some autistic traits. This meant their educational requirements w ere slightly different. My son coped with nursery, but did not do as well as his sisters. He went through a few years of proving rather a challenge to the school system, but now he has started High School, he seems much better behaved. But I would like to concentrate on my youngest, as this is my most recent experience of childcare problems and probably the most relevant to this opinion. When she was a baby, we moved out of the area, so I stopped working at Nursery and became a full-time stay-at-home mother (SAHM). This worked for a while, but then my marriage broke up and I was a single mother for a year or so. As my youngest was, and is, a demanding child, my Dad paid for her to go to a childminder once a week, to coincide with school hours. This gave me a chance to do my shopping, go to the Doctors / Dentists, do my housework and so on. We chose the particular childminder because we knew her - her daughter was friends with my eldest - and had seen her reacting to the children regularly. We knew she was dependable, calm, able to cope in a crisis and had a good way with the children. After talking to her about minding my daughter, visiting her house and watching how she interacted with her, the arrangement began and I was very happy with her. When I eventually moved to another city, to be with my current partner, his mother offered to have my daughter once a week, to continue this chance for me to have a break. I could hardly fault the childminder, but my mother-in-law (as she now is) was even better. She only had the one child to deal with, unlike the childminder, and she enjoyed taking her to the zoo or buying her clothes, etc. - something that is out of the childminder's job description! When my daughter became old enough to go to playschool, she started there. She was okay for a term, although I wouldn't say she loved it, then the owner changed and with it, the whole fee l of the place altered. My daughter began having "sit down strikes", refusing to move off the pavement, as she did not want to go to playschool. I went and stayed there with her a few times and understood her change of mind. It had been a warm, friendly, relaxed and happy place, where the children could learn through play and enjoy the experience. But the new woman had come in from a teaching background and it had become stricter, with less room for adaptability, more rules and guidelines. If we arrived at 8:50am, even if it was pouring with rain, we had to wait outside until 9am, because that was how things were done now. Little things like that. But the tone of the playschool had changed, and not for the better. I spent days wondering what to do, knowing that was the only playschool near enough for me to take her to, as I don't drive and have fears of travelling on buses. I listened to conflicting ideas, to people's experiences and views, but of course, deep down, you know the best thing to do for your child. I took her out of the playschool, leaving her just under a year to go before she started primary school. I felt I could not teach her in the way the others had been taught, as she only absorbs certain things if they are taught in a specific way. But I also knew I wanted to give her a head start before school and not just let her learn the basics from then onwards. So I did some research on the Internet and looked through some websites designed for parents who homeschool their children. Of course, these are primarily for and by Americans, but you can adapt them, changing the spellings and so on, as necessary. I printed up flashcards of coloured circles, to teach her the colours. I cut these out, then laminated them by covering them in sticky-backed plastic, which protects them from spilled juice or temper tantrums! I did this for shapes and letters of the alphabet too. I printed up colouring sheets which I added into her day, to provide some light relief from the "learning". I also printed out handwriting sheets, which she could write over, trying to work on her letters. Of course, I didn't do this with her every day. We went out to the park, she helped me round the house, we read stories, watched television and she still went to my mother-in-law's house once a week. But it helped. I am not very creative with my hands, but I even designed a simple calendar. I used a large hard-backed envelope, then made little pockets on it out of see-through A4 wallets, stapled or selotaped on. I printed up the names of the days and the months, as well as numbers for the date, plus pictures for the weather and the seasons. These were arranged on the envelope and each day, we decided which was correct. Usually I would do the date and she would choose the weather. She thought this was great and I was really pleased I had managed to create something that actually worked! She started school in September 2000 and then, of course, she began doing the real learning and loved it. Each day in Reception, she'd come home saying she had learnt another letter or could sound out another word. It is a joy to watch your child discover something new. It feels especially good, if you know you have helped with that process. Whatever childcare works for you - being a SAHM, another family member looking after your child, a playschool, nursery, childminder or nanny - is the right one. Just use your common sense, trust your maternal instincts and be prepared to be flexible. What works for one child will not necessarily be right for the next one. Good luck!

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                                  15.10.2000 01:44
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                                  At the age of 2 years I decided that my daughter was ready for playschool.We paid £2.50 for 2 and half hours and that included a drink and buiscuit.My daughter throughly enjoyed herself and it was a nice break for me although i did miss her dearly.We also used to go to parent and toddlers 3 times a week and this meant there was something everyday that kept her amused. When she was 31/2 we moved to a different area and the local playschool didn't have a place for her till she was almost 4 so we decided to put her into a private nursery.It cost £8.45 for 4 hours and yes it was more modern than the church hall where we used to but she didn't learn anymore and she certainly didn't enjoy it as much.We kept her there till she was nearly 4 and got a place at the playschool which Sophie was more than impressed about. I would however use a private nursery if I was going back to work and had to have childcare.

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