A recent article in the Daily Mail highlights the dilemma facing working mothers and the challenges of balancing the demands of the workplace and home-life.
Whether borne out of need (financial demands, necessity to maintain professional interests and careers) or choice (to preserve sanity, socialise with peers, lack of maternally instinct), it has become the norm for mothers to return returning to work prior to their children entering full-time education.
We are fortunate to live in a society that rightly no longer stigmatises these mothers and supports their right to exercise such choices: but as with all rights comes responsibilities and it is critical that returning to work mothers ensure that childcare arrangements protect the pastoral, social and developmental needs of their child(ren). Where a trusted relative is not available to fulfil the mother’s role there are an array of options for childcare are available.
Nanny: The advantage of a nanny is that the child has a constant companion chosen by you for their compatibility with the family, its values and its customs. Children benefit from being raised in the family home and surrounding environment which is important for children who need stability and routine. Parents who employ nannies generally also have more direct say about the way in which their children are raised and how their time is spent. Although expensive, where there is more than one child in the family it can be a cost-effective option.
Nurseries: Whether run privately or by local authorities, nurseries often segregate according to age so children aren’t intimidated. Children will benefit from learning a greater variety social skills and even empathy for others at an early age, which will prepare them for schooling. Parents looking for nursery care should carefully research nurseries before visiting them in person to meet the staff and ensure that they are satisfied with the facilities and care provided. The cost for nursery care for multiple children may prohibitive but employers often offer discounted childcare with trusted and carefully vetted organisations local to the place of work.
Child-minders: Your child will be looked after at the home of a child-minder who is often a parent with children of their own, sometimes of a similar age. Your children are normally with others who maybe the child-minders own or other children under their care. This is often a cheaper option than nursery care but the environment potentially less stimulating and the singularity of care may present concerns.
Whichever option is chosen it is imperative to check the suitability of your chosen carer(s).
Reputable nanny agencies will carry out DBS and past employment checks on nannies, secure verifiable references and provide ongoing support to you and your nanny so that you can be confident that your child is receiving the very best care (this reassurance is not provided when finding nannies through unregulated online adverts).
Reputable nurseries will be accredited, authorised or registered with a registered body to guarantee a level of professionalism. Even so, it is worth seeking recommendations and visiting a nursery at least twice for an informal and formal visit to reassure yourself that the staff and nursery offers a suitable environment for your child.
Reputable child-minders will be registered with OFSTED and on the local government register so you can be assured that they are vetted and subject to continuing evaluation. Again it is worth seeking recommendations.
The company of people outside of the family can be very positive for children. It helps them to build relationships, gain social skills and encounter different experiences. Provided parents take time to source the best care available and are realistic about the costs, childcare can prove very positive.