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Back to Work…Your Childcare Options Explained

Back to Work…Your Childcare Options Explained

Maybe you are just leaving your job for your first maternity leave, or maybe you are nearing the end and going back to work is only months away. Thinking about returning to work often starts with thinking about childcare options. I might add, even if you aren’t returning to work you might be thinking about childcare options so that your little one starts having time away from you and you from them. Or maybe due to Covid 19 you have had to rethink childcare, find other options and adjust to our new normal.

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Here are some of the possible childcare options explained:


You might be in the situation where your partner or a grandparent is able to have your little one for some time during the week. This is obviously an amazing situation to be in financially as this means you can be working without thinking about the hourly rate it’s costing to be working. If it’s your partner then this can be really seamless and can provide an amazing space for your partner and your little one to create their own special bond and routines. If it’s a grandparent then factors like how well your child already knows them, how much they know of your normal routine and how independent there are will all have an impact on how much you hand over and plan their day or just leave them to it.


This would be with a registered childminder in their home and along with other children but only a handful. Great advantages like being able to develop a relationship with one care provider and that your child will be in a home setting in your local area, probably going to the parks and playgroups that they might have already been to. Also they get to be with a variety of other ages of children and create bonds with a smaller group of children. They are regulated and oftsted registered so you can have confidence with that and you are able to see reviews, recommendations etc. Often you can pay per hour which has a nice degree of flexibility but some childminders require you to bring a packed lunch, nappies, milk anything you baby would need with you. There can be disadvantages if they are off sick or on holiday, there isn’t a back up.

This can be a great place to look for a local childminder:

Nanny/Nanny share

Having a nanny is a great option if you would like one to one care for your child. Nannies can be living in or out but are based in your home so your little one would be in the environment they know and love and routines are easily passed over and able to be maintained. Depending again on how independent you are happy for your nanny to be you can suggest or book them classes. Playgroups to go to and match them with other families with children that your little one already know. Sometimes nannies also take a bigger role with cooking home made meals or doing some home tasks while your little one is napping which can be helpful. You can use nanny agencies or local community groups to find your nanny and you can interview them and see if they would really match your values and family set up, giving you control over more of the process. This option is one of the most expensive though as you will need to pay tax and NI for your nanny on top of what can be a high hourly rate. Also if they aren’t well or on holiday you can be left without childcare. This childcare option also means you need to be very comfortable with someone in your home and with someone who, with the nature of it being one to one, your child will get very attached. Some families opt to share a nanny, so two similar aged children will be together and you might alternate houses and share the hourly rate.


This is in a purpose built or adapted space where you will have rooms with different aged children. Depending on how the nursery is organised you might have a baby room, toddler room and a preschool room. Your child would have a key person assigned to them but the staff very much work as a team. There are set ratios (depending on the age) and depending on the space you might have a room with 12-20 children in, for example. Often the hours run from 7:30/8am till 6pm which is great if you are needing to work a 9-5pm day. All meals are taken care of and allergies planned for. And the children have access to an outside area and often extra music classes or sports classes that come in and support the staff. Nurseries are always open if someone is ill they get someone to cover so you never need to worry about not being able to take them, that is unless they are poorly – which if they are in nursery and exposed to more children they may be more likely to catch the latest cold etc.

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This is an option for toddlers, normally running for 2 years/2 ½ year olds. These run term time only and normally run a morning, afternoon or all day sessions within a 9-3pm day. These can be a great option if they link with a local school, a way for your child to get to know other children who might end up going to the same school and a great place to start claiming those funded hours.


Whatever you end up choosing make sure you go to the setting, meet those that will be looking after your child and take the time to ask questions. Parents instinct has a lot to say about choices like this so take the time to discuss with your partner before you make a choice. It’s a really personal choice so don’t make it based on what your friend thought, they might hate it but you might love it so give everything a fair shot. If you need childcare for work then make sure you are clear which days you might need and always check that there is flexibility if things change.


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