The Childcare Juggle
Between drop offs and pick-ups and commuting and work how are families managing? In most (72%) two-parent families both parents have jobs, so we know you are all somehow managing your kid’s childcare. But the choices are tough. Do you rely on (free) Grandparent care, or use a childminder or does your baby go to a nursery. According to the Coram Family and Childcare's survey it now costs £6,600 to have your under 2 year old in childcare for 25 hours a week. So how are you finding the right balance?
Dad.info spoke to one Dad in London about his childcare juggle -
We have two kids under five and both work. We don't live near family so we are completely dependent on childcare. We're both self-employed and until April had enjoyed the benefits of self-employed maternity leave. But like all good things it came to an end. My wife found herself work almost immediately but her hours and commute mean three days a week I do all the drop offs and pickups as well as working my own hours at home. Our elder child is over three so is entitled to 30 hours free childcare which is an absolute life (and pocket) saver.
The situation is tricky. I am having to get the two kids to childcare on my own, pack lunchboxes, spare clothes and deal with a screaming baby – now I know what an amazing job my wife was doing whilst I worked!
Making a plan
Making a plan was step one. We had to really pin ourselves down. We chose to send our youngest to the childminder on our road as it saves so much time. However, our older daughter’s nursery is a drive. It is a struggle to get enough work done between her drop off and pick up.
Communication, communication, communication
We've discussed how we're going to make the childcare work so many times and are constantly tweaking it. It is so expensive we can't afford to make a mistake. We’re always asking our friends how they do it and steal their best ideas. We use our google calendar and add shared entries. We try to make sure everyone (including the kids) knows where they should be.
The ideal of course would be to get some family help. That's not possible for us but we have a group of local friends who really step up to support us where they can.
We try and save money by one of us dropping off while the other goes to work early and swap duties on the way home. Ask your employer to be flexible. Being self-employed we have the option of making up hours in the evenings.
Although it is hard now it will get better
We are looking forward to free childcare (for the little one) at three, School is starting for our eldest in September which will bring new challenges. It's definitely a work in progress but making sure everyone is happy and in the right place without breaking the bank is possible. It just takes some work!
Check your entitlement to help with childcare costs
15 hours entitlement
3 and 4 year olds, and eligible 2 year olds, are entitled to 570 hours of funded early education or childcare per year. For more information click here.
30 hours entitlement
If you both work (and meet the criteria) then your 3 and 4 year olds will get 30 hours free a week. Make sure you apply promptly for the term following your child’s birthday. If you miss the window you will miss out on the money.
Eligible parents can open an online childcare account. For every £8 they pay in to their account, the government will pay in an additional £2, up to a maximum. Parents are then able to use the account to pay for childcare costs with a registered provider. For more information click here.
If you are struggling with the childcare juggle come and share your concerns on our Forum.