It’s been over 4 months since I returned to work and Miss P headed off for her first full day at the childminder. It felt like a whole new stage of my life as a mummy as I left her with somebody she had only met a few times.
She had been for two settling in sessions prior to this which had all gone fine. I remember the first one where she was to stay for two hours. It was the strangest few hours for me. A few hours to do nothing! 2 whole baby free hours! The next session was 4 hours! I remember thinking I was going to go home and do lots of tidying. I soon thought better of that and just spent the time relaxing and watching Phil and Holly on This Morning. It did feel weird and extremely quiet just being me.
I did feel slightly anxious at first and wondered what she would be getting up to but that soon passed and I made the most of those few hours. I expected tears from at least one of us but we were both surprisingly fine.
I started to look at childcare options in the last few months of pregnancy. I knew I was always going to return to work and knew that some kind of childcare was always going to be an option. At this stage I didn’t know what my working hours would be but I was interested to see what the different options were.
For some reason I had always liked the idea of a childminder over a nursery. I don’t really know why but I liked the idea of a smaller setting with a more personal relationship with them. I had friends who had experiences of both so it was useful to chat to them and get their thoughts. The only thing some people mention was the disadvantages. If a childminder is sick you are a bit stuck but this wasn’t something that would put me off.
I found the childcare.co.uk website really useful and a great tool to search for local childminders. There are hundreds on the site but you can narrow it down to your local area. It lists all types of childcare including nurseries, childminders, babysitters and nannies.
I wanted somebody close to home or at least on route to work so that I wouldn’t be spending the whole morning driving around. We visited a couple of childminders before we made our decision. When thinking about it I just kept thinking that this person was essentially replacing me as the one who would be looking after my little girl during the day. Up until now I had spent all day every day with her and knew every little thing that she got up to each day. Going back to work and not knowing what she had been doing all day would be very different.
When looking at childcare options I would say it is a feeling you have. A setting of any kind whether it is a nursery or a childminder may have the top rated OFSTED scores, it may be a bit cheaper than some others or it may just be one that others have recommended to you. All these things can’t take over the feeling you get when you arrive and first meet the individual(s) who will be responsible for looking after your little one.
As soon as we arrived to visit the childminder I warmed to her straight away. Her home felt just that, homely. She was professional but friendly at the same time. She showed us around her house and whilst it was their home it also had the feeling of being a safe place where children could play and have fun.
She chatted to us about what they got up to on a daily basis and the different activities they took part in. I was really impressed that on one of the days they went to a play session with other childminders in the local area. She talked about trips to soft play and farm visits they had made in the summer months. At that point I was rethinking returning to work and considering being looked after by her myself!
She chatted to us about the online diary she keeps for all of the children and showed us how we would be updated on things like meals, sleep and any developments she was making.
She made us feel at ease and Miss P seemed to love her as soon as they met.
The online diary and feedback has been brilliant and gives us an insight into what we call her ‘secret life’. Off she goes for those few days and has this whole other life that we aren’t a part of. It was strange at first but I love that she has this and a whole other mini life.
Looking back at the past few months we defiantly made the right decision for us when it comes to childcare. I never worry about how she is getting on in the day and I love to hear all about her day when I collect her after work. Seeing her face when I collect is great too! She is always excited to see me although I sometimes think she wants to stay and play!