Let’s face it—after school care is hard at the best of times. And after the global pandemic, it still feels near impossible. Whilst after-school clubs have previously been the go-to option for lots of families, many are having to reduce their numbers, and some have had to close down.
For some, the re-opening of after school clubs is crucial, but not guaranteed. Luckily, there are a few other options to keep little ones out of trouble once the bell rings at the end of the day.
So what are your options?
Friends and Family
Your kids know them. They love them. So, who better to take care of them?
If you’re lucky enough to have friends or family living close by, this can be a great option. The kids can relax and spend quality time with people they feel comfortable around. Plus, this will probably be your cheapest childcare option.
However, this traditional idea doesn’t always work out in real life, and much less so in London.
Pros and cons
For a start, many of us no longer live down the road from our family, and it doesn’t always work out around their own plans and commitments. For those lucky enough to have the help of family and friends it’s a blessing when it comes to raising children.
While some 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 who need to take extra precaution this autumn. If you are thinking of asking friends or family to facilitate after school care, you’ll also need to consider the insurance implications.
They also have to have regular availability that fits around your work schedule. Plus, you need to make sure to follow Ofsted rules: friends cannot gain a reward (which doesn’t just include money) for looking after a child under the age of eight for more than two hours in their own home without being registered. People have been prosecuted for illegal childminding, so don’t chance it.
Lastly, for family and friends to be a realistic option, they need to live close enough to be able to pick up the kids from school on time.
Extras to think about…
- Establish boundaries from the outset
- How often can you reasonably leave your child with a family member or a friend?
- What happens if they’re sick or unable to help on a certain day?
- Will they be reimbursed for food and expenses?
- Do you agree with their approach to discipline?
- Do you expect them to help with homework or cook for the kids?
Luckily, the next option removes most of the pains that come with relying on a friend or family member. Firstly, it’s 100% legal from the get-go. Secondly, it’s a formal option you can trust.
After School Nannies
After school nannies will collect your little ones from school, so you won’t have to worry about making the school run 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 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 and has lots of fun.
After school nannies are perfect if you prefer more personalised care and want your child to be taken care of in your home. They can also take the kids to and pick them up from their extra-curricular activities.
There are some downsides when it comes to searching for a nanny, however. Trawling through the internet, interviewing and referencing candidates can be time-consuming. Alternatively, nanny agencies can help identify candidates but charge thousands in upfront fees.
Koru Kids is an alternative which offers the best of both worlds!
We make it easy to find an amazing nanny, with no upfront fees. Recruiting, vetting, reference checks and training is all taken care of—we welcome people from all walks of life to become after school nannies. We also manage all the admin, including contracts and your payroll. Plus, we can provide ongoing support and guidance to your nanny once you’re working together, so they only get better and better over time.
Live-in Au Pair
Some families in need of regular childcare opt for a live-in au pair. For many, 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 will also need to adapt to having another person around.
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.
Unfortunately, finding a young traveller might be a tough hurdle in 2020 as most countries now have restricted travel conditions. 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 collect your kids from school and look after them plus a few other kids in their home, so your child will have the chance to socialise with children of different ages in a homely environment. However, this option can quickly become expensive.
Childminders are self-employed caregivers who are fully-trained and registered with Ofsted in England (or with a childminding agency). The childminder’s home must comply with all health and safety, fire safety, and food hygiene legislation, and they must undertake a paediatric first aid course every three years.
Unfortunately, finding a great childminder can be like digging for gold—there’s been a 24% drop in the number of childminders since 2012 according to Ofsted. This year, due to COVID-19, it unfortunately doesn’t look like it’s getting any better.
Childminders are only able to look after a maximum of six children under eight years, meaning places can fill up pretty quickly. Check your local authority website to find a list of local childminders and register early.
You can often pay them overtime for later hours and babysitting, with no handover required. It can be a wonderful, flexible option.
Your next steps and how we can help:
We know just how daunting choosing the right after school option for your family can be.
We have a friendly team on hand at Koru Kids to take the stress away from after school care, and we have lots of trained and vetted after-school nannies who are looking to start in September.