A childminder offers a unique childcare option that many parents love. If you are unsure about the best childcare choice for your child/ren keep reading.
One of the hardest things any parent has to do is choose who they will leave their children with while they go to work, to study or to help them build better social skills and get ready for school days. Leaving your children with someone who is essentially a stranger might sound awful however it can offer a number of benefits to you and your children.
The important thing is to choose a childcare provider who is right for you and your child. We have a first-hand account from one of the Dream Bear Mums below which explains this one mum’s experience of using a childminder. Hopefully this “inside view” will help!
When my youngest was eighteen months old I sent him to a childminder. I’d been working from home for years and my oldest was now at school however I’d reached a point where I needed child-free time to work and he needed to be mixing with other children.
Coming to the decision to use childcare (my eldest stayed at home until he went to pre-school at three years old) wasn’t easy. I had to tell myself to ignore the Mummy Guilt (we all get it from time to time) because using childcare was the right decision all round.
The first thing I did was to look at my options. Having a family member look after him wasn’t possible at the time and in my local area that left me with a nursery or a childminder. Thankfully we have plenty of both in the area. I also needed to consider my budget of course!
I toured a few nurseries, visited websites and asked for a prospectus however nothing really clicked. I couldn’t see him in any of the settings, despite the fact they were perfectly good nurseries, all with wonderful Ofsted reports. I already knew a couple of local childminders however wasn’t sure how childminding worked, having not experienced it myself before. I asked one (after checking her out and getting glowing recommendations) for a chat and visited her home. Instantly I knew this was the right setting, before she pulled out her paperwork to show me, the pictures of the activities the children had done with her or anything else. It felt right.
My son was there a few days a week until he started school (he stayed there when he went to preschool as I chose to do two days at each setting, rather than move completely over to preschool as they both offered such different yet valuable experiences).
My childminder experience was hugely positive. The CM and I communicated well, I always knew what he’d done, how he’d been and even how he was developing day to day (CM’s keep records the same as nurseries to fulfil the EYFS and Ofsted (governing body for childcare providers and schools) requirements). It really was a home from home and he loved going there. It was fabulous to see how much he enjoyed his days there, to see the friendships he was building and of course the vast number of fabulously fun activities he was enjoying.
When it came to important milestones such as toilet training the CM was happy to work alongside the routines we had at home for example to ensure there was continuity throughout. This made life a lot easier for us and of course also meant that he knew what was what.
During a typical week he might play at the park, have a nature walk, go to the library, enjoy arts and crafts, special themed activities around favourite characters, learning activities and so much more. In truth there’s no way he would have had such educational input from me if he’d stayed at home, regardless of the fact that I used to do so much with him.
The last time I picked him up before he left to start school I cried and I’m not ashamed to admit it. His time there was magical and the CM and I have actually become friends in our own right. She was a second mother of sorts to my son while he was there and even now loves to hear about his achievements at school (and he loves to tell her all the big boy things that he does!). His time with his childminder left him well prepared for his time at school and we all have a great number of wonderful memories to look back on.
It’s safe to say that I would thoroughly recommend thinking about using a childminder. As well as the obvious enjoyment and benefits it offered him I also found it much more flexible than nursery (an hourly rate and flexible days / times where possible) and also cheaper. The CM package really did work for all of us and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others.