Why we love our Childminder by Lyndsey Yates

If you are looking for a childcare provider the first option that comes to mind may be nursery. But many people are now opting for childminders, and with good reason too. The Families, Children and Child Care study (FCCC) says that childminders are the next best thing to being at home with mother. It’s the option my partner and I wanted for our little one, but when you’re handing over the care of your child to a complete stranger, it’s a rather daunting search.

In the last weeks of my maternity leave there was an AP childminder, not too off my commute to work, who was also nearing the end of her maternity leave. We went to meet her, questions in hand, and liked what we saw. By pure fluke, the only childminder we liked the sound of online, the only one we interviewed, the only AP one in our area, had availability on the day we needed her. We were really happy. And over the coming months we have been nothing but reassured of our choice. Here’s why:

Emotional Needs

  • The use of positive parenting techniques for discipline. I have witnessed her using these techniques with her own kids. As a first time mum myself, it’s really nice to see techniques I have read about actually being put into practice and working for a professional.
  • She knows all about babywearing and is happy to wear our little one should she need to for bonding/putting to sleep/comfort.
  • She has a very understanding, positive and sympathetic tone with all children in her care.
  • Our child is being looked after by just one carer, and at a much smaller child to carer ratio than in nurseries.
  • She often gives our little one cuddles.

Sleep Routine

  • At 12 months old we were still rocking our little one to sleep. We were fine with this, but we worried a childminder might not be so keen. She was actually absolutely fine with this. From speaking to parents with babies in nursery, this isn’t something many of them would be keen to do.
  • She tries to keep to our little ones normal sleep routine as much as possible. Yes there may be some school runs or a playgroup to go to, but childminders don’t tend to have a set/rigid sleep time for all kids like some nurseries do.
  • She has actually settled into her own way of getting our little one to sleep and we love it. She cuddles her until she is asleep. We think this is just beautiful!

I feel I should note at this point that our little one doesn’t sleep as well for the childminder as she does at home/at grandparents. We put this down to an unfamiliar environment with much more activity and noise going on. She is getting better though, making positive improvements each week, so we’re not worried about it.

Food

  • She’s experienced with baby led weaning, so she had no apprehensions about feeding our little one all the same kinds of things we do.
  • She is very accommodating and respects our wishes when it comes to food. We don’t give our little one any sugar. Our childminder makes all meals from scratch anyway, and her menu is brilliantly varied, but she has also made an extra effort to avoid any products with sugar in, such as breakfast cereals and certain breads.
  • She won’t ever force our little one to eat anything. If our little one has not ate much that day she will of course let us know, but she won’t make an issue of it. As we believe mealtimes should always be fun and not stressful for our little one, it’s good to know she’s in safe hands on that front!

Pooping!

  • Although she had no experience with cloth nappies, she was willing to learn. She got the hang of them really easily and there have been no problems.

Play/Learning

  • She follows the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum for children 0-5 years and provides a balance between focused planned activities and child led play.
  • She has thought of many different sensory activities to try, and is always trying out new ways of capturing our little ones attention.
  • She has a wonderful garden with a vegetable patch which the kids get involved with,
  • She has an amazing and varied range of toys.
  • Our little one gets to mix with children of varying ages (Child development researchers have found that grouping together children of varying ages fosters natural, family-style learning).
  • She takes the kids out to playgroups, on days out, parks etc. at no extra cost to us, all included in our fee.
  • We get lots of pictures shared with us of our little ones day. The childminder was very understanding of our choice to not put any pictures of our little on online, and they are all held securely.

Flexibility

  • Our childminder was able to take our little one for just the one day a week we needed her to.
  • The hours our childminder is ‘open’ are quite long – 8am until 6pm. This is really good for us.
  • She has very kindly said that if we need to drop our little one off in her PJs, that’s fine. I have heard of nurseries not accepting kids turning up in their PJs (with a change of clothes of course!)

Cost

  • When we looked into the cost of childminders vs nurseries (and the various other options in between), we saw that childminding often works out as one of the cheapest options. Although this wasn’t a particularly important piece of criteria for us (we just wanted the best option for our child), it is an interesting point, given that we think the level of care is superior. I won’t mention the specific cost of our childminder but it is about £30 per month cheaper for us than a nursery would be.
  • We’re not charged when the childminder is closed. We have heard and read that some nurseries charge

I guess the most important points fall into flexibility and willingness to accommodate an individual child’s needs. Knowing that our child is being looked after by someone who has the same theories about parenting as we do is a massive weight off our minds. As two people who knew pretty much nothing about childcare just months before we actually needed it, it has been an interesting discovery.

We have had many talks with other parents about their experiences with childminders, nurseries and the many options in between. In doing so we have become really confident that we made the right choice. In fact, to the point where even if I didn’t have to work I would now still opt to send my little one to the childminder one day a week. We can see the difference interacting with other kids makes. We can see that there are activities she does there that we wouldn’t have even thought about. We can get advice/input from a fellow, experienced, AP practitioner.

If you’re currently in the process of looking for a childminder then I hope this helps. There is certainly a lot to consider, but the value of a truly great childminder is absolutely priceless.

The ‘Outstanding’ OFSTED registered childminder Louise Kinnaird can be found at www.caterpillarchildminder.co.uk

 Lyndsey Yates

Lyndsey Yates

About the Author

Lyndsey is a mum of one who chose to continue her career in graphic design part time so she could spend more time at home with her little one. Lyndsey is passionate about getting creative and making sure there’s always laughter in the day! She enjoys making clothes, motorbiking and cooking healthy meals from scratch. She enjoys getting out with her partner and their little one to explore new places at the weekends.

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