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Childminder VS nursery – Is putting your child in the nursery worth it? 

Part 5 of the Working Mum Mini-Series A little rant about childcare challenges in the UK There is no getting away from the fact childcare in the UK is expensive. And this makes it difficult…

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Home » Blog » Childminder VS nursery – Is putting your child in the nursery worth it? 

Childminder VS nursery – Is putting your child in the nursery worth it? 

Part 5 of the Working Mum Mini-Series

A little rant about childcare challenges in the UK

There is no getting away from the fact childcare in the UK is expensive. And this makes it difficult for parents to work and manage childcare at the same time. Often it comes down to a discussion of whether it’s ‘worth’ it for both parents to work. But what if you both want to work? 

Before we get into this post, I thought it would be useful to list some resources and statistics on the issue. Since the beginning of our childcare journey, we’ve used tax-free childcare, which entitles you to 20% back. You essentially pay 80% of costs and the government tops up the remainder before you send the payment to your childcare provider. It has saved us money. However, I think our ‘government’ need to go a lot further with helping parents’ in the UK.

We are now at the point where we can apply for free childcare hours. If you’re working, when your child is 3 years old, you will be entitled to 30 hours free. It’s important to note, that this is only if you need the cover during term time. If you need all year round cover, like us, it works out to be 15 hours weekly. I think the advertising of this could be better and is slightly misleading. You also need to check your childcare provider is accepting applications for free childcare.

You can also use tax-free childcare for older children in the morning and after school clubs. Some other points to mention, if you are claiming benefits, you could be entitled to free hours when your child is 2 years old. When I stopped working recently, we were no longer entitled to tax-free childcare. Which I find slightly silly when you already cannot afford to live!

Childminder VS nursery

This Government is committed to supporting working families which is why it’s fantastic that thousands more are saving money through the Tax-Free Childcare scheme. I urge as many parents as possible to take advantage of this support.

GOV.UK website

We all know the government needs to go a lot further in helping all families in the UK with the financial burden they are facing. However, applying for tax-free childcare might alleviate some pressure on childcare costs you are already paying anyway.

If you look at the historic news articles, it is clear there were problems with the system and the government failed to adequately advertise the scheme. Now they are saying the data shows families are not using the funds. I know from speaking to other people, that they don’t know this scheme is available to them. I am also aware nurseries still charge parents for consumables and other services because the government don’t send them the full cost a parent would pay. It is best to talk directly to your childcare provider.

For this post, I want to discuss “worth” not only concerning the monetary value. 

My journey with childcare costs 

Speaking from personal experience, we’ve struggled financially to pay nursery costs from the outset. The nursery place was secured before my little one was even born, simply because competition for places is fierce. We were asked to pay one month’s fees upfront as a deposit to be used for our first month. It was difficult getting the money together for something we wouldn’t even use yet, at a time when I was soon due to receive a lower income as a result of maternity leave. That said, I do understand why the nursery has this process in place.

Childminder VS nursery

Before deciding on the nursery option, I did look into childminders as an alternative. Here are some of the comparisons we reached when making our decision:

Childminders tend to be slightly cheaper per hour than nurseries

Childminders work from their home, which can be comforting for the child

There are fewer children to look after in a childminder setting, as they are limited by Ofsted on how many children they can look after, depending on the age of each child

Some childminders have limits on only working term time and they often still charge for their holiday time – in a nursery, there would be enough staff to cover the time you needed

I would consider a childminder in future. However, with our situation, needing childcare all year round and full days, a nursery setting was better. Even if it was a bit daunting for our little one at first.

We recently attended our first nursery birthday party for someone in her class. They don’t talk to each other at this age, just zoom around a play area having fun. But it’s cute and it’s so lovely to watch. From a privacy perspective, we can’t always see how they interact with one another at nursery. But parties are a great way to witness these lovely moments. 

Childminder VS nursery

Unsolicited parenting advice about childcare

Before my little one was even here, friends and other parents would provide that unsolicited advice I hate! 

For them, working and putting a child in a nursery meant earning about £10-20 per day, after childcare costs. Luckily for me, not going back to work would have resulted in a loss of two-thirds of my income. However, I spent the first two years of my baby’s life doing a juggling act. Which led to burnout and a mental breakdown. Therefore, I am not sure there is the best course of action.

Your family is nobody else’s business 

In summary, there is no correct way to approach the issue of childcare. Do what is best for you and your family at the time. And don’t listen to anyone else’s advice. They are speaking from their unique situation and not taking account of your family’s needs.

Striving to be productive and also a great mother 

I’ve written in this series about the challenge of being a working mother and wanting to do something productive, each day, for more than just money. 

My mind has to be occupied and I love completing tasks, being organised and getting a job done. Redundancy and my mental health breakdown showed me I can do both, but a compromise on balancing working hours, childcare and time together as a family needed to be reached.

And we’ve just started our new family routine. I am sure you will hear lots about how it’s going on this blog. 

The benefits of childcare 

For anyone undecided on paying nursery costs or feeling the very real mum guilt. I wanted to list some of the benefits we’ve seen in our little one:

Before we jump in, I will say, leaving her at 9 months old was horrible. I felt like a bad mother and she had separation anxiety. But the best piece of advice I got from her key worker was to just leave and get to work. They were clear she was fine a few minutes after leaving, and my staying was making things worse. Don’t get me wrong, I cried in the car the first morning I left her and worried about her all day. However, it was a small price to pay for the amazing development we’ve seen in her.

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Here are the benefits we’ve seen…

Making friends 

We recently attended our first nursery birthday party for someone in her class. They don’t talk to each other at this age, just zoom around a play area having fun. But it’s cute and it’s so lovely to watch. From a privacy perspective, we can’t always see how they interact with one another at nursery. But parties are a great way to witness these lovely moments. 

Being independent 

Our little one is quite independent anyway. But we’ve noticed more independent role play as a result of the nursery. From a young age, the nursery allocated alone playtime throughout the day. Essentially to teach toddlers to be independent, as well as part of a group. 

Improved speech and development 

There are certain words and mannerisms I know she picks up at the nursery and not from us. They teach so much in a day, probably more than I could do by myself at home. Therefore, I’ve always favoured this setting above other childcare settings. They have room to do group play, all the toys a toddler could dream of and the resources to spend one on one time. Not to mention, the organic meals they get all day. And the latest cute activity – superhero yoga in the playground. I mean, book me a place. 

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Building immunity 

Although illness has impacted us for the last few years, my little one has built up a great immune system. The nursery may be a germ factory but it serves its purpose. 

We’ve gone from terrible colds every weekend, to not so much. Which is great. She is now prepared for school. 

Becoming resilient

I have to give all young children a huge high five for getting through the last few years. Luckily mine was too little to really see a difference, but she coped with nursery closing and changes to our routine well. Children are resilient anyway and we need to give them credit for that and not worry about them so much. Easier said than done!

Routine 

We actively teach our little one about money. In the most simplistic form, we say we can’t go on holiday or buy toys without working. We also explain the routine for the next few days and what is happening with our household, in terms of nursery sessions and working patterns.

Because of this, my recent transition to part-time work was easy. She is so settled at nursery, that she barely says bye to me these days. I know she is looked after, well-fed, and comforted and this allows me to continue my daily routine, without guilt. 

I like the idea she gets to go do her thing for the day and I do mine. 

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Where do I go from here, with our childcare routine?

As it stands, we need two days of nursery cover and my little one loves it so much, that she gets a lot out of full days. That said, I would feel guilty if I had to put her in the nursery all week. Probably because as a couple we’ve agreed to spend an equal amount of time with her. From day one, this was a priority. Everyone’s family setup will be different and this is nobody else’s business. 

However, I am also considering putting her in for three hours one morning to allow myself some downtime. I still have my blog to manage. Maybe I will decide to do the food shop, watch Netflix or have a nap. It doesn’t matter. What matters is I recognise my need for time to myself. Time in which I don’t get stressed, can decompress from my part-time job and look after my mental health. Before my mental breakdown, I never allocated time for myself. As such, this time has no price tag on this time. But it is worth it in the long run.

Until next time

As you can see, the decision to pour your child into a nursery or childminder setting is emotive. It’s tough to pay such high costs for childcare and trot off to work, thinking that you could be spending time with your child instead. Especially if you are not actually earning that much money. It is a real struggle, especially for working mothers who sometimes have to decide between their career or their duties as a mother.

My hope moving forward is that we no longer have to choose!

I hope you found this post helpful.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.

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Childminder VS nursery

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Childminder VS nursery

PART 6 OF THE MINI-SERIES WILL BE PUBLISHED NEXT week

Find all posts so far here

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Childminder VS nursery

20 Comments

  1. readandreviewit
    May 16, 2022 / 6:56 PM

    This was a really informative read! It sounds like your child is definitely getting a lot out of nursery, although I completely agree that you should only ever do what’s best for you and your family. That party sounds super cute! Thank you so much for sharing your experience x
    readandreviewit recently posted…If This Gets Out Book ReviewMy Profile

    • June 1, 2022 / 12:50 AM

      She is thriving at nursery now, but it was heartbreaking leaving her at nine months old. The party was the cutest and she’s now at the stage where she can say her friends’ names.

      They are so cute at this age. Equally, they can also be little terrors. But we all have good and bad qualities, hehe!

  2. Basic With Life
    August 18, 2022 / 9:17 PM

    CHILDMINDER VS NURSERY… such a hard one because every child is different. I have four children 3 started nursery at 2 and a half and my last had a childminder until 3 years old and then nursery. The pros and cons were even and most importantly it’s down to the child (and parents)

    • August 20, 2022 / 2:03 PM

      I totally agree. Our little one loves nursery and it works better for us. But I would say to any family, do whatever is best for you.

  3. November 5, 2022 / 1:14 PM

    This is such an important decision! As a mom of three kinds all in different age categories choosing childcare was difficult and expensive! We ultimately went with the daycare vs home care mostly for the benefits for the kids. it’s more of a preschool environment(we used family when my first was younger (now in school) and the difference in the little kids has been incredible. They are way more independent and way more ready for school even though we still have a lot of time before that happens?

    • November 6, 2022 / 8:43 PM

      It’s great to hear from other parents who have made tough childcare decisions. Our little one has developed massively since being in a nursery setting and the nursery manager says she gets great feedback when they start school.

    • November 6, 2022 / 8:42 PM

      It’s a great service, but it’s honestly a big decision to cover working days with nursery fees. Unless you have a top job, you end up with about £20 per day! Luckily we each have one weekday with my little one and this saves on nursery costs.

  4. Coralle
    November 5, 2022 / 4:02 PM

    Very interesting post! I don’t have any children yet so I can’t truly understand the stress and dilemma that many parents face, but I will say that I already feel anxious about the decisions I’ll have to make in the future if I decide to have a child. I’m glad that you have seen so many benefits with the nursery; as long as that works for your family, that’s what counts.

    – Coralle

    • November 6, 2022 / 8:41 PM

      That is what counts. The whole system creates worry for all parents. I wish it was easier and more affordable!

  5. November 5, 2022 / 4:30 PM

    This was a really interesting blog post. I don’t have children yet but I do want to have a baby in the near future. My mum was a childminder with many children and it was great having little ones around when my littlest sister was little. But I can see positives and negatives to both. Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren – bournemouthgirl
    Lauren. recently posted…Meet My November Advertisers For 2022My Profile

    • November 6, 2022 / 8:40 PM

      It all depends on the child and your situation. My mum was also a childminder when we were little.

  6. September 2, 2023 / 9:19 AM

    Love what you said about your family being nobody else’s business – that’s so true. So many people love to give unsolicited advice. Some great things to think about when it comes to childcare, it’s important to find what works for you.

    • September 20, 2023 / 9:16 AM

      It has to work for your family. And I am not a fan of unsolicited advice.

  7. September 24, 2023 / 5:32 PM

    Really good read. My daughter has just started school nursery and she is loving it and you can see the positive impacts on her social skills already. However, she is now bringing home all sorts of bugs and colds haha!

    • September 30, 2023 / 1:58 PM

      That is the only downside – the constant illness. My toddler would fully recover then me and my hubby would get it. And have to look after an energetic toddler, whilst unwell.

    • January 28, 2024 / 9:45 PM

      Definitely – everyone’s situation is so different

  8. February 5, 2024 / 7:47 AM

    It’s wonderful to hear that your child is benefiting from nursery, but ultimately, prioritizing what’s best for your family is key. Every family’s needs and circumstances are unique, so it’s important to make decisions that align with your values and situation.

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