Alternatives to nursery

Nursery or nanny? Finding the perfect childcare solution to suit your little one

The best nurseries in London are fantastic places where children thrive. If your little one is in one of these nurseries, hold on tight and cross your fingers and toes.

Unfortunately, each week we get lots of calls from parents who are not happy with their nursery. In many cases the nursery itself is perfectly great, but the setup is just not working for the family for one reason or another.

For example, we recently spoke to a parent whose baby had just never settled into nursery. “It’s gone beyond normal separation anxiety,” the mum said. “Morning dropoff is heartbreaking, and it doesn’t seem to be improving as time goes by.”

Another family I spoke to recently were at their wit’s end as their daughter seemed to be constantly sick. “Every time Nora has a loose poo, even if it’s just from teething, the nursery calls and I have to drop everything to pick her up,” the mum told us. “Then she can’t go back to nursery for 48 hours afterwards.”   

If you’re thinking of switching out of nursery for whatever reason, you may be wondering, what other options do we have? Is it a nanny or nothing?   

A full time nanny – a fantastic alternative to nursery 

Nannies offer personalised care in your home. Your little one gets to stay in their familiar environment in the rhythm and routine they’re used to. Nannies give personalised, one-on-one attention that meets all of a child’s emotional, physical and social needs. Nurseries give your child plenty of playmates to socialise with, but they do offer less individual time with each child.

Nannies tailor your child’s day around their interests, whether that’s spending time outdoors, visiting farms or splashing in the swimming pool. Nurseries tend to follow a structured routine, with time for free play, crafts and reading.

If you’ve heard tales of nursery bugs galore, then you’ll be reassured nannies can look after and comfort children when they’re sick and they’ll have less exposure to these bugs too. 

Your day will also be less rushed as nannies can work longer days to fit into your work demands and you don’t have to rush for pick ups and drop offs. 

It might be too expensive for me. What else is out there? 

Nanny share – an alternative to nursery

For many families, a nanny share can be a great alternative to nursery. The children still get the benefits of social interaction, it’s flexible in terms of location and timing (with less time off sick), while also being more affordable than a sole care nanny.

If you live in an expensive part of London, or are paying more for a part time place, a nanny share could cost about the same as your nursery. If not, it could be a little more. As a guide, the cost of a nanny share is generally £11-15 per hour.  

If you’re interested to explore nanny share as an alternative to nursery, do bear in mind that the more pickups/dropoffs involved, the tougher it is to find a nanny share match. So an afternoon-only nanny share could be difficult to find.  

Whole day shares, however — even just a couple of days a week — are very doable. Find a great family to nanny share with using our free family finder.

We often find the families who are leaving nursery to do a nanny share are the happiest with their matches, as they have some flexibility on their start date and therefore can wait a bit to find a family that really suits them

What about a bit of both nanny and nursery? A mix ‘n match solution 

We’re seeing a big trend in families following this ‘mix and match’ approach to their childcare solution.  The children might be at nursery for 2 days, and at home with a nanny for 2 or 3 days.  ‘Mix and match’ works especially well if you have 2 children in a nursery, as it might even reduce the cost –  in some areas with very expensive nurseries, the cost of a full day nanny for two children can be slightly less than the cost of two kids at nursery. 

For many families who can’t stretch to a full day nanny all the time, ‘mix and match’ creates opportunity for personalised one-to-one care. As one parent told us, ‘The nanny days are the easy days’ – they were the days she wasn’t rushing around in the morning, and could cuddle her baby during the day.  Parents who work from home tell us they love stealing a few moments in their working day to have lunch or tea with their children, and seeing their children much more than if they were in full time nursery.  And when the baby is (inevitably) sick and can’t go to nursery, the nanny can still look after them. 

Choosing the right childcare for your family can feel so daunting but the power is in your hands to create the perfect childcare solution for you. Get started by checking out our amazing full day nannies

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