The prospect of going back to work after being a full-time mother, be it after maternity leave or longer can invoke different emotions for different people.
Finding the right childcare for your child is key to a successful transition for both you and your child. It can be stressful at the best of times, so start looking at your options as soon as possible ? Hilary Pereira, former deputy editor of Mother and Baby magazine and author of The Good Childcare, recommends mothers start looking as soon as they know they?re pregnant.
Start looking for childcare during pregnancy
“It?s never too early, and it?s certainly wise to begin by the time you reach the beginning of the second trimester of pregnancy,” says Hilary. This might sound a bit too early, but as Hilary reasons in her book, “the best childcare providers ? unless they are only recently established ? will inevitably have the longest waiting lists.”
Starting early isn?t just about making sure you get your child a place at the nursery of your choice; it also means that you can really check things out. You?ll have so much lead time before your child starts that you can do all the necessary checks to put your mind at ease.
What if I decide not to return to work?
The main aim of sorting out childcare early is to prepare for all eventualities. So, if you decide you will not need childcare after all, this isn?t likely to just be an overnight thing ? although stranger things have happened! So you?ll be able to give your potential childcare provider as much notice as possible. And if they?re reputable, they will most likely have someone else lined up to fill that place, anyway.
So what are the most popular childcare options?
Where do I look for childcare?
Every borough has a Children?s Information Service, and they will hold a list of nurseries and childminders in your area, often having the details of those who have vacancies, information about the schools and playgroups childminders can drop off and pick up from, and details about whether they have a garden or pets.
If you are looking for a nanny, you may want to advertise in your local paper, or you can even contact local colleges that have childcare training courses if you want someone who is newly trained.
Another option for finding a nanny or an au pair is to use a nanny agency, which will charge you if they find you a list of suitable nannies. A good agency will also do its own checks before registering the childcarer.
For details of your nearest Children?s Information Service visit www.childcarelink.gov.uk, or call 0800 096 0296
Visit the National Childminding Association
Visit the National Day Care Association