When a nanny is the answer to a working parent’s childcare needs.

Mum to two little girls – and with a burgeoning freelance business – Louise Cummings ponders the childcare choices available to working parents, and concludes a nanny may well be the best option.

Wrap-around care, nursery, after-school club, holiday club; all the terminology us working parents become so accustomed to. Sometimes I yearn for the days when the only club I knew was the strobe-lit haunt I’d stumble into in the wee small hours after too many Sambuca shots! Back then, I admit my vision of life with children, and expectations of being able to juggle family life and a flourishing career with aplomb, were woefully naïve. In a nutshell, it went a bit like this; fall pregnant, feel deliriously happy, deliver beautiful baby, spend a year bonding and cherishing bundle of joy (thus far, this was largely spot on), then off to nursery they go, while I return to old job with renewed vigour (hmmm).

Then I had a second darling daughter, and when the time came to return to work, our over-subscribed nursery dropped the bombshell that there was no place for her for six months, so, with work stacking up, I began a frantic search for a childminder. Said childminder turns out to be amazing – but lives a couple of villages away to first daughter’s pre-school (which is also amazing, I must add), so work days are stressful, to say the least.

First there’s the challenge of getting both little ladies up, fed, dressed, hair and teeth brushed and bundled into car at what feels like the crack of dawn. Most mornings I’m chasing the two-and-a-half-year-old around, who still thinks it’s incredibly funny to run and hide while her flailing mummy struggles to get wriggling legs into tights and squirming arms into a dress. It’s SO not funny. Meanwhile, the 15-month-old is going through a clingy phase, so crawls around my feet, clawing at my legs, arms held aloft, repeating ‘Mamma’, sending pangs of mummy guilt coursing through me and making me wonder what the heck I am doing thinking I can have a career and kids.

Then there’s the drop-offs to do; I drive along praying the youngest won’t start to sob the minute I turn on my heel to leave, as I’m not convinced I won’t cry myself, but need to maintain my bright and breezy, happy mummy demeanour until I’ve safely despatched the eldest to pre-school. The day then passes in a blur, as I whizz round like a whirling dervish, removing tellytubbies from the washing machine, wiping fruit puree off the door frames and making the house resemble a home, as opposed to a crèche, before gluing myself to my laptop for hours on end, to get some of my work done. (The remainder will have to wait until after bedtime, when I’ll no doubt be bleary-eyed and need a large dose of chocolate to stimulate the grey matter.) Then before I know it, I’m back in the car, racing against the clock to make it on time for pre-school pick-up, then persuading the eldest to get into her car seat (she hates cars, owing to a few recent bouts of motion sickness), to continue our journey to the childminder.

On the way home I find myself entertaining the duo with various verging-on-manic renditions of Baby Shark, Old Macdonald and Wheels on the Bus, in a bid to keep both from nodding off, otherwise bedtime will be a nightmare! And it it’s an office day, there’s a fair chance a jack-knifed lorry will have turned the A14 into a car park, making for a white-knuckle journey to pick-ups, as I try to squash the disturbing visions of my eldest sobbing at the school gate, like an abandoned child.

So, unsurprisingly, I’m finding myself thinking that a nanny could be a preferable option to my current patchwork of childcare. A friend, who works as a doctor, and has four children, employs a wonderful nanny – and life sounds far simpler. The nanny arrives at 7.30am, so my friend can be in her pyjamas, covered in baby porridge, but that doesn’t matter. She scoops up the little ones while mummy has a shower and gets ready in peace (ah, just the thought of that!). Then my friend leaves for work, free of the worries of nursery and childminder drop-offs, happy in the knowledge her children are being cared for in their home environment or safely dropped off and picked up from school. What’s more, she knows her little ones are being cooked nutritious meals, their minds are being stimulated, their clothes washed and ironed and popped neatly away. Some nannies even prepare supper for the whole family, taking that burden away from exhausted parents, who’ve been at work all day.

I’ve been told by parents who use nannies that because the everyday needs of the child are largely taken care of by a nanny, it means mum and dad can enjoy real quality time with their children, unfettered by nagging thoughts of school uniforms needing an iron or toys requiring a tidy. They can give their precious ones the gift of time and attention, which let’s be honest, is what most children yearn for. As a mum who’s trying to juggle everything, it’s a truly appealing thought!

Thinking of hiring a nanny?

Contact an expert consultant at Gingham Kids for an informal chat.

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