Tips for choosing and arranging childcare
- Don’t leave it until the last minute. Even if you’re not yet ready for childcare, give yourself plenty of time. If a place is popular, expect long waiting lists, up to six months or more. Interviewing and hiring a nanny or home childcarer can take months.
- Make a note of your basic requirements, such as: opening hours, costs and location, and make those the first questions you ask when you phone around.
- Think about your child’s age and personality, particularly for small babies and children under two who need a close one-on-one relationship. You know your child best, so use your gut instinct too.
- Aim to visit at least two or three places to meet the carer and compare what’s on offer. Make a formal appointment and where possible (for instance, at nurseries) drop in randomly.
- Take a list of prepared questions.
- If playgroups or nurseries can’t offer you care five days a week, think about combining care, for example nursery for two days and childminder for three days.
- Check references. Most carers, including nurseries and pre-schools will be happy to give you names of other parents to speak to about their work.
- Go back for a second or third look once you’ve narrowed down your choices. Some carers will agree to a trial run before a formal agreement.
- Get everything in writing once a decision has been made. Nurseries and childminders will ask you to sign a contract or letter outlining details such as costs, rules and hours. Read it carefully before signing. You will need to provide contracts for home childcarers and nannies.