When your little one starts school, it can be an overwhelming time to say the least. Not only is there a flurry of emotions attached to the idea that they’re growing up at the speed of light, we worry if we’re making the right choices and whether those decisions are giving them the very best childhood experience possible.
One decision that many families have to make is who they’re going to entrust to look after their kids at the end of the school day. When it comes to choosing the right childcare options that suit you and your family, coming to a decision can be time consuming and stressful.
As a rule of thumb, the type of childcare you choose depends on factors such as:
- The age of your children and their interests
- Your and/or your partner’s working hours
- How many days per week you’ll need childcare
- Your affordability or budget
With these factors in mind, we’ve picked out the best childcare options available, including our after school nanny service, to help you make the right decision for you and your family.
After school clubs
After school clubs can be a great way to stimulate children’s interests in a sociable environment. The clubs – usually attached to a school – offer care before and after school hours. Like schools, they have to be registered with Ofsted and meet National Standards.
After school clubs work for many families, but they can have their drawbacks. In some cases, children of all ages are placed in the same environment which can lead to older children becoming bored, unstimulated and disinterested pretty quickly. Meanwhile, younger children can find it intimidating. Although there are activities on offer, they won’t necessarily be tailored to your child’s interests. Plus, after school clubs can be tiring for children as their school day is effectively extended.
A major disadvantage of after school clubs is that many are only open during term-time, leaving you with the hassle of having to arrange childcare during half-term breaks. And if the club isn’t based on school grounds, the logistics of trying to arrange collections and drop offs may simply be too complicated.
When you’re considering after school clubs as a form of childcare, it’s important to consider that there may be a waiting list too.
After school nannies
After school nannies will collect your little ones from school, so you won’t have to worry about getting the school run done at the end of the day. Phew! They can help the kids with their homework, make them dinner, take them to activities and keep them entertained at home. After a long day at school, sometimes just being able to kick back at home may be just what your child needs. It also means when you get home you’re not negotiating homework and dinner with a tired child — instead, you can enjoy some quality time with them.
Dedicated to providing childcare from the moment the school bell chimes, to when you clock off, after school nannies can ensure that your child sticks to a routine, is safe and happy in their own home environment and has lots of fun.
Family and friends
For those lucky enough to have the help of family and friends it’s a blessing when it comes to raising children.
Not only do children get to spend time with their relatives, this option can also help to reduce the cost of childcare quite considerably.
This sounds like a sweet deal, but it isn’t necessarily an option available to everyone. While some of us may be able to rely on family and friends to look after the children on the odd occasion, asking them to commit to a regular arrangement is a huge ask – particularly if you’re relying on elderly grandparents.
If you are thinking of asking friends or family to facilitate after school care, you’ll also need to consider the insurance implications. If a friend is operating as a childminder, for example, they must by law be fully registered and have the appropriate safety training. You might be confident in their ability to look after your children safely, however regular childcare arrangements are regulated and you need to ensure it’s all above board.
Live-in au pairs
Some families in need of regular childcare opt for a live-in au pair. For many families this will be a brilliant solution, offering their child a cultural experience with the convenience of having someone around all the time.
If you’ve considered this option, bear in mind that you’ll need the space to accommodate another person in the house and need to adapt to having another person around the house. You’re responsible for that person – a stranger to the country – and their cultural experience of the UK. In addition to this, many au pairs are only available for a period of 3 or 6 months, so you may find that you are continuously looking for a new one.
With many au pair agencies charging considerable fees and new requirements to provide employment benefits to live-in workers, taking on an au pair requires a lot of thought.
For many working parents, a registered childminder is the next best thing to your kids being looked after in their own home. Childminders will only look after a small group of children in their home, and your child will have the chance to interact closely with children of different ages in a homely environment.
However this option can quickly become expensive. Additionally, you’ll be responsible for arranging emergency childcare in the event that the childminder feels unwell or is on holiday, or can’t look after your kids for any other reason. Activities may also be less structured and educational than you’d like.