Wednesday, November 12, 2014

nursery and childcare - questions

There've been a few stressful weeks involved, and lots of to'ing and fro'ing, tears, everything else, but as of today we now know exactly how and where we will be leaving Sebastian when I go back to work.

You have three basic choices here: nursery, childminder or a nanny.

A nanny is the most expensive, and the most sought after - your child gets one-on-one attention, they get to stay in a home environment, probably won't catch measles in five seconds, and you can control what they eat.

In London, most nannies, for one child, costs anything from £1 500-£2 500 a month, depending on experience. It's extortionate, and one would see why many wouldn't bother going back to work.

We thought we'd be clever and set up a 'nanny share,' a new thing that has come out of this economy, where families that live near to each other, with similar-aged babies share the cost. The price tag comes down, but the flexibility ratio also goes down, and suddenly you realise you're at the mercy of not only your child's schedule, but three other people's too.
To cut a long story short, it hasn't worked out.

I'm sad and disappointed for Seb, as I think it would've been nice to have him under nanny care at least until he was one (he will be nine months when I return), but on the other hand, I am slightly relieved too.

We registered him at a nursery just in case, which is usually the second best option to a nanny. When I first started this process - looking for nannies, budgeting, looking at childminders and then realising most lived in high-rise council estates so aborting the mission after three separate visits - I was adamant that a nanny was the only thing that we could do for Seb.

I was convinced he wouldn't get the 1:1 care at a nursery, he was too little, many nurseries seemed like a 'dumping ground' for people's children. These are still concerns I have. No doubt.

But I'm trying to see the positive too. He will only go four days a week, (I'll work from home one of the days), and since meeting new mums this year, my feelings towards nursery have started to change.

"Nursery is definitely the right choice for me. It'll give Eleanor all the stimulation I can't give her, and it'll socialise her too."

"They seemed so nice, and he can do things he wouldn't be able to do at home - like messy play with paints."

"Sarah cries whenever another baby looks at her, so nursery will be really good for her to teach her how to be around other babies."

"Nursery is much more flexible in terms of holidays. When we had a nanny, I was always completely stressed out. I was running around trying to please the nanny more than anything, and then paying for her holidays while she wasn't looking after him was heavy going."

That's the other thing. When you employ a nanny, you employ her like a company employs a person. You pay their tax, their holidays, their everything. When you are on holiday, you still pay the nanny. When they are on holiday, you pay them still.

It's fine if you have lots of cash floating around, but I was panicking a bit about that already. Goodbye any 'lavish' holidays to Europe or South Africa; hello holidays in Southend-On-Sea?

Still, I am nervous. I just hope we are doing the right thing. We will go for a few 'settle in' sessions, but then we head off to South Africa for four weeks and Seb won't remember much any of this. I just hope the staff are dedicated and genuinely love children (and aren't just there because it's a 'job'); I hope he is happy and the food is of good standard.
Am I dreaming? I hope not.

We registered him and checked it out over the summer, and it seemed fantastic in terms of all the stuff they have - music room, garden with big jungle gyms and sandpits, lots of toys and facilities, even a messy play room which is white and spray-downable after the babies have wreaked havoc in there. But the thing that gnaws at me, is that he is going to be one of the youngest there.

He will either be in the group of 3-9 month olds (so oldest in the group), or in the 9-16 month old group, and therein the youngest. They'll assess where he fits best. It's three kids to one adult supervisor.
Am I being paranoid? Is there anyone out there who can offer some advice or hopefully, better still, some comfort in that I am doing the right thing by him?


Anonymous said...

It's wrench to leave them behind when you go back to work, no matter where or who you leave them with. Even if you left them with Granny it would suck.

Trust your gut, if there is even a moment's hesitation that it's not the right thing for Seb then it's worth thinking again. Easy to say I know, especially when options are limited!

He will be fine. He will make lovely new friends and play and learn new things and you get to experience the guilty joy of him wrapping his arms around you when you fetch him, thrilled to see you again!

po said...

I don't have any experience in this but I get how much it must hurt to leave him. So many people I know in the UK have done the same as you, and people in SA too. Everyone seems very positive about the benefits of socialisation and education. But even if you have a different experience, you will see in time and be able to take a different course. Good luck!

Val said...

My grandchildren have been at nursery school since they were 6 months old. My DIL was totally gutted when the eldest went for the first time. He loves it as does his little sister. Sebastian will too. :)

debbie thackeray said...

My little man has been at daycare for a while now. My worries always centred around sickness and food, much like what you are talking about. My advice is talk honestly to the nursery about your expectations. Bens creche writes down his meals, nappies, when he drank water and when he slept in a little book so i know what happened during the day. We are also all on a whats app group and his teacher sends us pics of the kids everyday (you wont believe how much better that makes you feel!!). Unfortunately he will get sick but from my experience, its been snotty noses, nothing too serious. I am not sure the mommy guilt ever goes away but it sounds like you have searched for the BEST place for gorgeous Seb. Its always hard leaving them but I am sure he will be a little champ for his mom! XXX

Vannessa said...

I was also a nervous wreck when I left my son at a daycare for the first time. I have to say the guilt doesn't ever really go away but then I have found that as a mother we are always feeling guilty about something, be it spending too much time at work or too little time at work etc etc.

3 to 1 is an excellent ratio, which you certainly wouldn't get here in SA. The place sounds great, you just have to get through the first week or so of separation pangs (more on your side than his) and then you will be fine, and so will he:)

Anonymous said...

oh Peas it is sooo hard - i remember looking at a really grim nursery in Exeter and coming out in tears and so didn't go back to work at the time - whatever you do it will be so hard to leave him at first but if you have confidence and trust in the child carers you will be fine - Can you go in and just spend time in the nursery with Seb to settle him in so you can see how everything works and be reassured he is in the best care?

Bug Eyed said...

Kids are far more resilient than parents give them credit for. Instinct makes you want to protect them from everything, and that's damn difficult to fight against. Think of it this way, if a child is built to survive the birth canal, both emotionally and physically they're pretty darn tough. That might sound a bit flippant, but it's true.

Of course I'm not implying that your natural concern is misplaced. But, being around other children is the best stimulation possible, socially and mentally.

The positive on the disease front is that, despite being temporarily miserable, it's a good thing for their immune systems to overcome these pestilences earlier, rather than later.

Above all, trust your instincts. You WILL know if there is a problem, despite doctors, nannies, professionals telling you otherwise.

Peas on Toast said...

Thanks EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU for your words of advice and empathies!

It really helps to reinforce what I need to know and learn, so thank you for taking the time to give me your thoughts. xxx

Val said...

Just wait for the time when he ignores your arrival to collect him, he is having so much fun! Then you know you have made the right decision! :)

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