When you start a family, the time comes when you might be thinking about going back to work and, for many mums, the choice is often to work on a part time basis. Even if you are doing part time jobs, with a young family, you obviously need to make childcare provisions and, for many mums, this can be a stressful time.
When it comes to childcare for working mums, what are your options? What are the options that will be a best fit for you? Not everyone is the same. What are the best options for your child and your child’s personality? What are the best options for your particular situation? Finances, locations and hours are all factors that need to be taken into consideration.
It can be a headache trying to decide what is the best option and, for many mums who are going back to work part time, they only start to think about childcare options once they decide to take up employment. This can also pose problems for those of you who are thinking about putting your child in nursery. The popular ones can often have long waiting lists so you may have to consider other routes for childcare. If you are a parent and you know you definitely want to go back to work part time whilst putting your child into nursery care, be organised and register your interest at the earliest possible opportunity.
Let’s take a look at some of the childcare options for mums and dads who are looking to work part time. Which route will you take?
Nurseries can be a good option for part time working parents because your child can attend from being just a few weeks old right up to starting school. The downside of the nursery route is that, whilst fees can vary, it can still work out to be an expensive option. Some employers may be able to help with nursery fees.
There are, however, lots of pros to choosing a nursery as a childcare option when you return to part time work.
- Your child can go to nursery on a part time basis.
- Depending on your location, you may have a number of nurseries to choose from so you can do your own research beforehand and choose the best fit for you and and your children.
- Nurseries have qualified staff.
- Your child gets structured play and ample opportunity to interact with other children.
- Nurseries are inspected by Ofsted so you can have peace of mind that your children are in good hands.
Workplace Nursery/Play Group
These days, many employers are offering workplace ‘perks’ that make their company a better place to work. A win win situation as staff feel valued and employers get to choose from the best talent. In some workplaces, one of these perks or facilities is a workplace nursery so that parents can work part time or full time and have their children on site, too.
A workplace nursery is often cheaper than independent nursery care and one of the benefits is, if your child is taken ill, you don’t need to dash off across town to go and take them home. Of course, this also means you don’t need to add time to your day by taking your child to a nursery and picking them up at the end of the day.
A workplace nursery means you are always close by but your child is getting quality care and interacting with other children so that they can become independent and confident. The best of both worlds.
So what happens if you decide you want your child to have a home environment whilst you are at your part time job? A nursery school situation doesn’t suit everyone. You might not be able to afford nursery care or you might not want your children to sharing the same space as lots of other children just yet.
One route you could consider for childcare is to leave your child under the care of a registered childminder. This is a particularly useful option if you live away from your family and so are unable to rely on them for babysitting help.
There are pros and cons to any form of childcare and one thing you need to bear in mind if you choose to use a registered childminder is a contingency plan in emergencies and other situations. There could be times when your childminder is ill or on holiday. You will need to find alternatives in these situations.
A nanny is the most expensive option for childcare but, if you are working part time, you will only need to pay the nanny for the hours you agree with them. Nannies can be a good option for childcare because they will be working in your home and will form a good bond with your child, providing stability. They can cook meals and put your child to bed if your working hours are outside office hours.
As with a childminder, you will need to have contingency plans for when your nanny is sick or on annual holiday leave. Also, bear in mind that if you choose to have a nanny to care for your child, you will be their employer. This means you are respınsible for their taxes and national insurance. In some cases – depending on how many hours the nanny works for you and how much they earn – you will also need to pay into a pension scheme for them, too.
For some working parents and their children, choosing to have an au pair for childcare can be a great option. If you have a spare bedroom and want to have someone living with you as part of the family, it can be a win win situation. Au pairs are often foreigners who are looking to spend some time living in the UK. Being an au pair means they get to improve their language skills and also get a real experience of daily family life in the UK.
For your child and yourself, you get to spend quality time with a young person from another country and learn about their experiences, there. Your child could benefit from activities with your au pair such as cooking traditional meals from their country of origin or doing crafts.
As well as giving them meals and a place to stay, you will need to pay your au pair ‘pocket money.’ Au pairs who are in the UK to study must also be given study time. An au pair is treated as a member of the family so you don’t need to arrange their taxes and national insurance contributions.
On thing to bear in mind when choosing an au pair for your childcare is that they should not be left to care for very young children. Au pairs are often young, themselves, and have no official childcare qualifications as they do not need to be registered.
Family & Friends Childcare
It can often seem like the easiest option can’t it? You’ve decided to go back to work part time, the grandparents love to spend time with the kids anyway – why not have them look after the children whilst you’re at work?
Before you make this decision, however, there are a few things you need to consider whether it’s the grandparents, other family members or your friends you are leaving your children with. The last thing you want to happen is conflict and this can easily occur if a few ground rules are not set out at the beginning.
- How will you arrange finances? Are you going to pay a certain amount per week or will they be looking after your child for a few hours each week as a favour? If you have friends with children, you could look after each other’s children.
- How will you arrange push chairs, toys and other equipment? Are you going to drop this off with your child each time or will you be able to leave spares at their home?
- How will you deal with treats? We all know grandparents love to spoil their grandchildren. Are you going to be happy with sweet treats and other gifts the grandparents might want to buy. Will you trust their judgement or do you want to set down some rules about what your children can and can’t eat?
- What about discipline? As a parent, you will know what type of behaviour to expect from your child and you will have your own way of disciplining them. Will you communicate this to those looking after your children and expect them to follow your procedures or are you happy to let them use their own methods?
There are lots of benefits for parents returning to work on a part time basis and making the right choice for you and your child when it comes to childcare means you can enjoy your work with the peace of mind that your child is also happy. If you do want to return to part time work after starting a family, some forms of childcare will entitle you to financial assistance. We will cover this in the next article.
Have you decided on childcare arrangements but still haven’t found the right part time job for you? If so, get your CV in tip top shape and take a look at our current part time vacancies in your area.