10 Sep

Choosing childcare for Baby

There comes a time in every parent’s life when a decision has to be made about childcare. Will one of the parents give up work? Will they get a nanny? Go for a nursery? Hire in a pack of wolves to raise the child?

I started working again in August. Not full time, but just enough that we’ve had a taste of what it would be like to pass Baby back and forth between us like a rugby ball when I have a shoot. Our desire has always been to raise her between the two of us with minimal outside help. If I hear one more time how children in Finland don’t go to school until the age of 7 in favour of spending time with the family unit and how they consistently score the highest IQ scores in Europe, then I’m gonna…well…I’m gonna move to Finland.

The reality is turning out to be a little difficult, so that means we need to start considering the options. Many of my friends and I have put our children down on lists at nurseries, but the Wimbledon area is so crowded with babies that we needed to have put her name down in the Stone Age in order to have a place now.

That means we’ll need to look at another option, like nannies. Every afternoon, I do what I call “Mary Poppins hour” with Baby. It generally involves playing the soundtrack to the film and doing different activities to each song; for example, during “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”, we play airplane. During “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, she bounces on my stomach. To “Step in Time”, we walk around the nursery. She loves it and there are lots of smiles and giggles throughout. I’m pretty exhausted by the end of Mary Poppins Hour, but so is she, which is good.

If I hired somebody in to look after her, would they care enough to do Mary Poppins Hour with her? Much as I’d love Julie Andrews to float into our life and take care of Baby, I’m afraid of handing over a large part of her care to somebody else. Not that I have anything against nannies; I know there are great nannies out there and maybe one day, I’ll go that way. But for now, I think it is overkill for what we need, especially while I’m still breastfeeding.

Which is why I was really interested when some of my mummy friends with toddlers told me about something called “a mother’s help”. It’s basically someone who will come into your house and watch the baby for you in between feeds and, while you’re feeding, do some light housework and cooking. Sounds like heaven! In addition, a Mother’s Help comes in at about £8 per hour and the person is usually self-employed, so you don’t have to do their National Insurance/taxes.

For now, I think this is going to be the route we go. Better than a slobbering St. Bernard. And a good option until, by some miracle, we get a spot at a nursery for a couple days a week.


  1. 12 Sep

    Amy Georgina

    We deliberated for ages over what to do with Scarlett. I went to work when she was 10 months old (Andy was a full time carer for his mum and so, really, I needed to get a full time job). By the time she was 2, Andy was offered a part time job with my uncle and so we started the great hunt for childcare. We dithered between a nursery and a childminder.

    We visited Kids Unlimited in North Cheam and pretty much fell in love, it just was a really nice place. We visited others (one in Surbiton which was just awful!) and none were as nice as KU.

    She started two days a week full time and went to a childminder on the third day (who helpfully dumped us after 2 months in favour of a better offer, nice!)

    Eventually Andy went full time, so Scarlett went full time at nursery 3 months before her 3rd birthday. It’s honestly been such a positive influence on her. She’s met some great friends and has learnt a lot, her writing is pretty good for 3 and a half and she enjoys the gymnastics classes they provide.

    We were quite keen for her to mix with other kids. I know Baby is a heck of a lot younger than Scarlett was when she entered, ‘the system’.

    At the end of the day, (sorry, I’ve rambled!) you’ll just know when you meet the right person to look after Baby, it’s a Mothers Instinct I guess!

  2. 12 Sep

    Fiona Campbell Photography

    Hi Julia Congratulations on becoming a mummy! A bit late I know, but I think it’s a particularly challenging combination when one’s a photographer. One thought that you might like to bear in mind is that you can sometimes find photographic assistants who double as nannies. This is probably more useful for the future as babies require such specialist care (though you might get lucky), but it can be great as you can get really good motivated people whereas often nannies can be young girls trying to pay their college fees and a bit bored with the job. Happy nanny = happy baby = happy you! Really good luck with it

  3. 12 Sep


    I’ve hired nannies and live in Au-pairs on and off for three years. I’ve also used an occasional care centre near us which allow flexible hours or even just mornings which has been fab.
    Here are my tips for hiring help:
    1. Interview quite a few people. And make it as relaxed as possible so that you get a glimpse of their true character.
    2. Always, always do a trial day where you pop in and out to really see what they are like in practice – also helps them copy your routine.
    3. I always ask our help to help do light housework where possible such as put a wash on, hang out washing, put clothes away and leave out ingredients to make a casserole/curry in the slow cooker. Also ask them to get some food shopping if required.
    4. Make sure there is a Neighbour or friend they can call upon if they get locked out without phone etc. This has happened several times!
    5. Trust your instincts – someone may not be as experienced as the others you see but they may actually be super kind, friendly and above all keen! You need someone who will really enjoy the job and not a jaded person who is only doing it for the money.
    Good luck!

  4. 14 Sep

    Katy Lunsford

    Gosh, yes I totally empathise. It can be so hard to hand your baby over to someone else for a large part of the week, we had a friend who was a childminder for the first year but she’s started fostering so we’ve had to find someone new. Handing Sophie over to a virtual stranger to raise her for 3 days of the week feels slightly uncomfortable – like you say, will she care enough to do the things you do? (I am SO stealing the Mary poppins hour, LOVE it!) and the way you wnat things to be done, the words you use, the food you want her to eat, the TV you don’t want her to watch (as in none at all til she’s 2 – that’s a hard one for someone else to adhere to!)… However Sophie seems to be having a great time, the childminder seems brilliant, and it does work very well for us. But I struggle with guilt, and my convenience versus Sophie’s best interests… I think especially as self-employed I feel like I’m choosing this more than if some mean boss was making me go to work! The Mothers help sounds perfect – wish I’d known about that before! Let us know how you get on xx

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