The city childcare connundrum

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It always helps to have a baby in the country you grew up in as it makes things a little more simple in that you know the score and the lie of the land. Having a baby AND they grow up in a lovely country but with a completely different way of going about all things relating to city childcare and schooling – well that’s a whole new ball game.

I can remember a day in the office when I was about 7 months pregnant with our first child and having a conversation with a lady in our team. I used to work in IT so there was only about 4 ladies on the entire team. Chatting away about children and she asked me what nursery I had put our name down on for their waiting list. I can remember the sudden clunk you get in your stomach (no it was not a baby kicking!) – the feeling of ‘oh help! With panic sort of setting in, I tried to nonchalantly ask ‘ when are you supposed to put your name on a waiting list?’ to which the answer was ‘Well, we put ours down the day we found out we were pregnant’. You can imagine the clogs in my brain going into overdrive and the urge to call my supportive husband with an emergency of ‘we won’t have anyone to look after our child in a year’s time – what are we going to do?!?!?’

I hadn’t started ante-natal classes yet so didn’t have much of a mother’s network and was already dealing with the influx of mother’s guilt on eating prawns at lunch time and a male colleague telling me I had just poisoned our unborn child. This was not good. So I started calling around and let’s just say I didn’t get a chance to make any further enquiries or vists due to the hospital visits for my pending pre-eclampsia. I did manage to do this when he was 6 weeks old and when I found one we liked (the royal we) I discovered we were number 20 on the waiting list. SIgh.

The initial days I was going to be working were 3 days in the office and 2 days from home. My boss was great and we had agreed this whilst I was pregnant. In fact I’ll post another post at some stage on just how great he was at helping me out with our human resources department.  When the time came to start getting ready to go back to work, and we had got over the shock as to how expensive childcare in London was, I had had a response from the nursery setting that I could do Mon, Wed and Fri. We didn’t think this was too bad as I could work the other 2 days from home.

This turned out not to be the case. When my boss forwarded my email on  regarding my return date and working pattern to HR – let’s just say more mother’s guilt arrived and I had to decide that I wouldn’t work a 5 day week. So I looked at 3,4 and 5 days a week and how much they each cost and which one of those I would get the most out of my paycheck from. Oddly enough it turned out that 4 days a week was the most economical and I was lucky enough to get a 4th day in the week that the nursery could take our child.

This was ok for our first child but with our second son it meant that for the first few months I ended up paying to work for the company as the childcare costs weren’t covered by my salary alone and we had to really look at things. I had already discussed with my boss before going back to work that I couldn’t sustain it and thankfully things worked out in the end that I could just cover both of them.

Why did I go back to work when I had nothing to show in the end in my bank account you ask? Well there are a number of reasons but the main ones were that our children were getting stimulation and social interaction that I couldn’t provide (they really loved their nursery), I also needed the mental stimulation of working and we had decided that it wasn’t going to be forever that I was only paying for childcare.

Am I glad we went that route? In the end, yes. I was blessed to spend a day at home with both sons and oddly enough their hospital appointments always fell on the day I had off somehow. They also loved going to nursery and I enjoyed the time away to miss them. Yes, there was a lot of juggling, especially when they were ill but they always came first. I didn’t begrudge working to pay for their childcare and now they are that little bit older and I am a stay at home mum.

Be sure to check back and find out the next part of the country living childcare connundrum.

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