Occasionally I meet a mum who has young children over the age of one, but has not yet been out with her partner alone and does not use any form of care through the week.
If it is for financial reasons and they have no family close by to help, then I understand, but if it is a decision based on pure choice, I am always impressed by their sheer fortitude and strength of spirit.
Personally, I cannot parent acceptably if I am doing it 100 per cent of the time. I would literally go quite mad if I did not get time away from my two children to do something, literally anything else, for a few fabulous hours.
Because of this weakness of character or self-awareness, I have used an array of care styles for my boys over the last seven years including grandparents, teenage babysitters, friends, family day care and child care centres.
I have always been happy with the care and attention they received and also very happy to get a break from parenting’s daily grind; allowing me to participate in work and other elements of life that I love.
If you are a new parent and considering care of some form in your future, but are unsure about what option is right for you and your little one, then read on!
Here are some of the key advantages that come from using three different types of care, a nanny, family daycare and a childcare centre.
A Nanny or Babysitter
Having someone you trust come to your home in the morning to allow you to escape go to work certainly makes life a lot easier for time-poor parents.
Not having to battle with traffic across town as you negotiate the different drop-offs and emotional goodbyes makes life a lot easier and gives you the time to arrive calmly at work, latte in hand.
A nanny will spend the vast bulk of time at your home, really getting to know and bond with your child or children. They might also be able to help you out by throwing a load of washing on occasionally while little one takes a nap.
We have never used a nanny but we have a wonderful babysitter who has been coming over to mind our eldest, and now both boys, in the evenings and during school holidays. She is smart, great with the boys and an extension of our family. I feel 100 per cent reassured knowing that she is at our home while we enjoy a date night once every few weeks.
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Family daycare is usually based in someone’s actual house so it has a very homely and comforting feel. Our youngest boy Leo currently goes to a great family daycare for two days per week and now has a great relationship with the lovely owner.
Drop-offs are easy as it is usually just me or one other parent, so it is fairly calm and free from lots of tears and emotion.
The ratio of kids to carer is just one adult to four kids, so with less kids there is less noise and disruption, meaning there is a high chance your child will sleep, eat and keep his routine very similar to that of the one you have at home. Leo certainly does.
I love the personal touch of being able to text or call during the day if I am worried about something or need to provide an update. I also receive photos and a brief commentary on what Leo has been doing which is cute and reassuring.
There is also much less chance of your child catching a nasty winter bug as there are less kids and so less germs, great if you have very little ones to worry about.
I loved the flexibility of using a childcare centre for our eldest Toby. He had set days each week, but if work was really busy and I needed an extra day or two covered, there was a high chance that one of the other kids would be on holidays, meaning he could slot in as a casual for the day.
Child care centres often open from 7am and close quite late in the afternoon or evening.
If you or your partner have demanding jobs, then longer, more flexible hours might work better for you and your family meaning you don’t always have to stress to make an early pick-up.
So much great equipment of every type means plenty of stimulation and action for your little one. There are sand pits, mud mountains, trikes, bikes, prams, craft tables and monster trucks. Toby always came home from childcare filthy, knackered and really happy.
Big centres mean there is a good budget for added extras. Toby was treated to all sorts of special visitors and celebrations such as ‘water week’ in summer, ‘party week’ at the end of term, ‘Happy Hatchlings’ with real live chicks at Easter and magicians, musicians and wildlife centre visitors throughout the year.
If finance is an issue for you and you can’t commit to any formal type of care right now but still need a break, why not think about setting up a ‘babysitting club’ with your local friends so you can mind each other’s kids while the parents get the odd night out?
Finally - to all the wonderful childcare providers across Australia, thank you for the work that you do to keep the little rascals entertained, fed, clean and happy and for keeping us parents sane and happy too.
Do you use Childcare? What do you think of it? Could you function without it?