This is a sponsored post with Childcare.co.uk
After deciding not to return to work after my maternity leave, I enjoyed a wonderful twenty months at home with Pickle before I threw myself back into the world of office work. It came about a little unexpectedly… I wasn’t particularly job-hunting, but just happened to spot a job I quite liked the sound of and it felt like the right time to try something new. Before I knew it, the job was mine and all of a sudden, I had just a few weeks to find a childcare option we were happy with. With a lot of mixed feelings and totally clueless as to where to start, I opened up Childcare.co.uk and the search began.
First Thoughts and Worries
My first thought was that it would be really hard. I remember hearing when I was pregnant that other families due around the same time had already put their children on nursery waiting lists. Yes, before the child was even born. With that being my only real frame of reference, I was terrified that we’d really missed the boat and would be left having to rely on childcare favours from my parents for months before we’d find somewhere. Luckily, just putting our postcode into the Childcare.co.uk search engine brought back so many options that I knew at least one of them would tick all the boxes for us. Immediately, I felt a little better about the whole thing.
What is Childcare.co.uk?
If you’re trying to look into childcare options for your family, I can’t recommend a better place to start than Childcare.co.uk:
Childcare.co.uk is the UK’s largest online community of parents, childcare providers, household helpers, schools and private tutors.
It now has over 2 million members since launching in 2009, and offers an extensive database of childcare providers local to you, with lots of information, reviews and testimonials to help you in your decision making, whatever it is that you’re looking for (and let’s be honest, we’ll all be looking for slightly different things in our childcare requirements).
Particularly good for Childminders
I found the website particularly good for looking into Childminding options. Although we decided against a childminder in the end, initially, that was what I was leaning towards. It’s really helpful to see how a childminder presents themselves in their profile, and the format of the pages make it really quick and easy to see whether the childminder is a viable option. I love the visual table that shows a childminder’s availability throughout the week – which immediately ruled some out for us, meaning we didn’t waste any further time finding out more. Very efficient!
Advice and Support
The weirdest thing I’ve found about parenting, is feeling an immediate pressure to be really knowledgeable about something you’ve never done before. In so many aspects of family life, we do things for the first time, and there feels like there’s no room for error – we’ve got to get things right, because it’s so important.
I had never tried to find childcare before. I was lucky that my Mum worked from home for most of my childhood or worked jobs in the evening so that she could do all the school runs and be there in the holidays for us. In fact, she was a registered childminder herself for many, many years and we still see some of the children she looked after – they’ve become part of our extended family which is absolutely lovely but it means my working knowledge of nurseries was really limited. I had no idea what to expect or what kinds of things we needed to look out for or be aware of.
Thankfully, there are some useful articles on the Childcare.co.uk website – like Choosing a Nursery and What is a Childminder. We also found it really helpful to ask advice from our NCT friends, who made us think about some of the practicalities (and is why we ended up picking a nursery over a childminder).
The Final Decision
Using Childcare.co.uk helped us create a shortlist of nurseries we wanted to visit, and once we’d been to see them for ourselves, we knew immediately which one was the right choice for us. I’ll be honest, initially, my heart sank after we visited the first nursery. It wasn’t what I had imagined and I started to regret ever deciding going back to work was a good idea… but when we walked through the doors of the nursery Pickle now attends, I felt immediately more at ease. There was just something about it that made me feel totally relaxed about the possibility of leaving him there. I trusted them. And I knew he’d have a whale of a time.
When you know, you know, I think. But even now, over a year later, I’m grateful for the guidance we had from using Childcare.co.uk, and would definitely recommend it as a first port of call for any families trying to figure out their options.
Disclaimer: this blog post is a paid sponsored post by Childcare.co.uk, but accurately describes our experience of searching for childcare. All content, views and opinions remain my own.