As a parent, there are fewer issues which can be as difficult as finding childcare for your children.
It goes without saying that in an ideal world we would all be calling on our loved ones, Nannies, Grandads, Aunties and Uncles, sweeping in to have quality time with their beloved next gen, whipping up cupcakes whilst you go out to work, down the pub or anywhere else for that matter.
But the reality for most of us is that we can’t rely on free family childcare, and the responsibility sits with us to seek out and vet a childcare provider that is reputable, trustworthy, affordable and available.
When I first planned my return to work, ten months after having Tigs, I did not have a clue where to start. Frankly, the whole concept of finding a childminder was so incredibly daunting and I didn’t have any word of mouth contacts to get me started.
What I did have, was a friend who was a childminder, who suggested trying the app Childcare.co.uk which would be the perfect place to start.
The app is really self explanatory – once downloaded a simple search bar prompts a quick area search according to your needs.
We could not believe our luck when we discovered a childminder with a daughter the same age as ours, living a 30 second walk from our house. We had no idea she was there and had never heard of her before.
Childcare.co.uk allowed us to read about Kate, her background, references, experience, qualifications, fees and availability. We were able to message her directly and engage in discussion regarding her availability specifics.
We hit it off on our first meeting, sealed the deal and so begun 18 months of a brilliant childcare arrangement, until we made the decision to move Tigs to a nursery around the same time Kate was expecting her third child.
That wasn’t to be our last experience with childcare.co.uk, as six years later I found myself again in that familiar situation of seeking childcare as I faced returning to work after a career break, but this time for two children.
In that time, little had changed with childcare.co.uk and it still reliably showed me available childcare providers in our vicinity. It also was useful to understand which childminders worked within our daughters school and offered wrap around care, a new but important type of childcare that became our priority service.
We had plenty of positive interactions with local childminders, and eventually secured our required two spaces with our first choice childminder, who we are still delighted with to this day.
Of course we have learnt along the way that situations don’t remain static forever, and should the need arise for any reason in the future, childcare.co.uk would always be the place I would begin my childcare search. In the current climate where personal situations are constantly changing, it’s more important than ever to remain dynamic and open to new possibilities.
I have gained such respect for childminders as a profession, and I like the way that childcare offers exactly what both parties need. Ultimately, we rely so much on the services these people provide and it’s incredibly important that they are able to build a marketing network for what they offer, totally free of charge in a safe space.
The app doesn’t just provide information on childminders; there are additional services such as Nannies, Nurseries, Doulas, Tutors and out of hours clubs. The website offers training and resources for childcare providers and boasts over 2 million members.
One area of particular interest that I have in my back pocket is the babysitting option – there have been so many times we have needed a babysitter and run out of family options or used up all our passes(!). Knowing a professional, qualified childcare provider is a click away is an arsenal in the parenting toolbox that I would be happy to use if needed.
For now, I hope that we aren’t on a childcare search again any time soon, but it’s reassuring to know if and when that happens, we know exactly where to start.
Disclosure: Collaborative post based on fact