If, like me, you have a child that is 4 or almost 4, you’ve probably spent the past few months thinking about them starting school in September, and therefore you might be looking at finding wraparound childcare. You will probably have had their school place confirmed last month, and now are starting to think about what the next chapter in your life as a school mum entails! I didn’t write a blog post about how I was feeling about school places because to be honest, I’d just returned to work and I was trying not to think about it as I had enough stress on my plate as it was. I swore I wasn’t going to stay up until midnight to find out our school, however, I was up late doing some sewing, and then Henry woke for a feed and before I knew it, it was 11.30pm so I only had 30 minutes to kill. We were very fortunate to get our second choice school, which is the one we expected to get, and were very happy with our selection! Alfie was excited to be going to big school (although I’m not sure he fully understands what that actually means!) and I was excited to no longer be paying a fortune for childcare….or so I thought! Here begun my quest for alternative childcare, and the difficulties that came with finding wraparound childcare for school aged children.
Admittedly, Craig and I don’t make life easy for ourselves. To give you some idea of why finding wraparound childcare in our situation was difficult, I’ll explain the logistics of where we live in relation to where we work and where we need childcare. Our current situation:
We live in Town A.
Craig works in Town B.
The children go to nursery in Town B.
Abi works in The City.
Our new situation becomes tricky because Alfie will be going to school in Town C.
We only have one car.
So finding wraparound childcare was going to be tricky with us needing to be in different places at different times. Our initial plan was going to be to use the school breakfast and after school club. However, they don’t open until 7.30 and my train to The City is 7.41. This won’t give me enough time to drop Alfie off, get him settled, drive to the station, park and get on the train. Which means Craig is going to have to drop both children off at their separate childcare providers. The after school club runs until 5.30, which only gives Craig an hour from leaving work to get Henry from nursery, and then Alfie from school. He works roughly 25 minutes away. Definitely do-able, but still could be tight. It’s a lot of pressure for Craig!
I started looking at other options, but it seems very limited or more expensive. If the after school club ran until 6.30, this would be perfect for us. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, so we’ve had to consider other places. I started to look for childminders, but only found two in Town C, one of which didn’t pick up from Alfie’s school and the other wasn’t suitable for us.
We then visited the local nursery. To be honest, I fell in love as soon as I walked through the door! It is a home from home environment, smaller than the boys current nursery but definitely giving off more of a homely feel. I then spotted the Grimm’s rainbow and I was sold!! All our prayers had been answered…well, almost! They don’t currently have space to take Henry full time, and their prices are more expensive than the club at Alfie’s school. I completely understand this and they are running a business and I would pay whatever it costs to ensure my children are safe and happy when they can’t be with me. But I must admit I was looking forward to bit of extra money every month, but at least it isn’t going to cost MORE than we are paying now (because we pay a bloody lot!!). As a compromise, we are going to send Alfie to breakfast club at the school, and then after school club at the nursery. Henry is going to stay at his current nursery, but he is on the waiting list for Alfie’s new nursery and we’ll make the decision then whether to move him or not when a space becomes available.
Our new routine is going to be absolutely crazy though, and to be honest it’s going to be Craig who is going to bear the brunt of it. Our morning will look something like this:
Craig drops me off at station in Town A at 7.15 (or I walk from home – depending how lazy I’m feeling!)
Craig drops Alfie off at school breakfast club in Town C at 7.30.
Allow 15 minutes to park, get kids out of car, walk to breakfast club, settle Alfie, get Henry back in car.
Craig drives to Town B to drop Henry off at nursery at 8.05am
Craig arrives at work at Town B at 8.15am (he starts work at 8.15am)
Craig finishes work at 4.30pm
Craig collects Henry from nursery in Town B at 4.45pm.
Allow 15 minutes to collect Henry.
Craig drives to Town C (25 minutes) and collects Alfie at 5.30pm.
Craig drives to Town A.
Seeing it written down, it doesn’t sound so bad, but we know that even the best laid plans don’t always work, and living out in the country, you’ve only got to get stuck behind a tractor, a horse or an accident and your whole morning is messed up! Our only other option is to get another car, and I do drop off with Henry and get the train from Town B. This will give everyone a bit more breathing space, but it’s an expensive option to have two cars sat in a car park all week.
I think I have taken for granted how easy it has been to have such a fantastic nursery for the boys that is open 7am-7pm, five minutes from Craig’s work (and in the town where we used to live!). I knew that our childcare arrangements would need to change when Alfie started school, and this is why I am working towards going part time by the time Henry starts school. I’m hoping that reducing our childcare bill, and having been paying a mortgage for a good 5 years by the time Henry is of school age means we’ll have a bit more of a disposable income, and I’ll be able to drop some days at work. This would decrease the childcare headache a bit, and allow me to actually be a school mum and take part in the school run, and attend school events without the worry of having to book time off work – especially with me being in the City, it’s going to be a hard juggle for me and Alfie this year.
However, speaking to my fellow bloggers, I’m not the only one who has thought finding wraparound childcare is an absolute headache when it comes to the school run. Here are just a few conundrums that people have come across, and how they have dealt with the issues:
“We found that our local school offered breakfast club from 7.45 and after school club till 6pm. These times (just) worked for us and I liked the fact we had dropped them at school and they stayed in one place all day.
Lots of people prefer childminders but I find they can be a lot more expensive.”
“Find a nursery with a wrap around club which drops them of to school and then picks them up from School and takes them back to the nursery for you to pick up later” www.anklebitersadventures.co.uk
“Me and my partner requested flexible working. He drops off, I pick up. We are in a childcare blackhole and after spending 12k on nursery fees when he was a baby we had to find a different way. It’s hard. No one talks about it, everyone just seems to deal with it which baffles me. Childcare in the holidays is another logistical nightmare!”
“Have you looked into childminders who offer drop off and pick up? They will usually have them just before and after school.” www.arthurwears.com
“The school my daughter goes to have a breakfast and afternoon club. I have used that. Drop of early and the after school club is on until six. Very handy.” www.mummythatsme.com
“I needed flexible childcare so after school clubs didn’t work. I found a fabulous lady through childcare.co.uk who would pick up the children if necessary from school, take them home and make them tea until one of us got in around 7pm. I could call on her when necessary. It worked brilliantly for years!” http://stylebrief.co.uk
“If it’s possible to go down the flexi-hours/four days a week route it can be handy to see if any other school mums have the same childcare issue. It could work out nicely so you both offer a ‘before-and-after-school’ service for each other – one does one day, the other does the next. Obviously this doesn’t work for the entire week, but it could help fill the gap between other arrangements you have in place.” www.mummyslittlemonkey.com
“I had to totally change my career due to problems with childcare. My previous job required a long commute and travelling around the country to different meetings. I now work locally now but still use after school club twice a week and am presently looking into a mother help who would pick the kids up for me and give them tea until i get home about 6pm.” Theunnaturalmother.co.uk
How have you coped with a change in childcare? How do you juggle working and the school runs? I’d love to hear how you’ve tackled your conundrums!