Many mums plan to go back to work when their youngest child starts primary school in September. Is that you? In an earlier post, I outlined my 12 essential steps to plan your return to paid work with confidence.
Step 5 is about choosing the childcare to support you on your return to work.
If you have been following this series of posts about returning to work, you have already explored:
Why do I need childcare?
Choosing childcare is perhaps the BIGGEST decision to make. Few of us are lucky enough to find term-time school hours only work. And for many women, even if you had that option, it might not be financially viable. However at a bare minimum, you need to consider how you will manage childcare on school INSET days; when your child is sick; when your childminder is sick; when the school is closed because it’s being used as a polling station; extreme weather conditions.
You might wonder how you will manage the demands of being a working parent however you can successfully mix work and family life. Given that childcare is such an important decision, it makes sense to start thinking about this now. Don’t leave it until the last week of school holidays. If you are not sure what else you need to plan and think about, download my free Back to Work with Confidence plan which sets out the different steps and helps you identify what you need to organise and when.
Childcare is not cheap … I wrote about this before and how this impacts those parents who want to work. You may be entitled to tax credits. Check here. If your employer provides childcare vouchers, this may affect your entitlement to tax credits. Check here.
Preparing your child for school
Many schools introduce new children into the Reception year on a part-time basis at first. Check the policy at your child’s primary school as this will have an impact on other decisions. If you’re worried about preparing your child for school, here are some useful articles:
- Top tips for starting school written by a reception teacher when her own child was about to start school
- First day at school on NHS Choices website
Is childcare harmful?
Many parents worry about the effects of childcare on their child’s emotional and intellectual development. Nearly all children experience a combination of formal and early education before starting at primary school. We know that the early years of a child’s life have a fundamental impact on your child’s brain development. Not only that, the availability and quality of childcare and early education influences a parent’s decision to work. The Nuffield Foundation recognises the importance of early childcare and recently produced a report focussed on this topic, bringing together findings from their Education and their Children and Families programmes. Read the full report here however in summary, although high quality early education may be better for education outcomes, it’s a fact that more expensive provision may be less affordable for families, which limits how many mothers go back to work and when.
As to whether childcare harms your child … the jury is still out. Articles such as this one in The Guardian (2010) reflect the conflicting evidence.
What are my options?
Let’s assume that you have found a job and the hours don’t permit you to do both the before and after school runs. What are your options then?
- If you are working part-time e.g. Monday to Thursday, or Monday-Wednesday-Friday, can you find another school mum to do the school runs before/after on the days you do work?
- Can you arrange your start-time so you can do the before or after school run? Can your partner do either the before or after? Can you alternate days or weeks?
- If you have family close by, can they help out?
- Many schools run breakfast or after-school clubs. Check the availability and what their minimum age is. Some schools don’t take Reception children.
- Childminder – when I first returned to work, I walked my girls to school, a childminder walked them to her house and my husband collected from the childminder.
Do remember, if you are choosing a formal childcare option, check it is regulated and inspected by Ofsted. This gives you peace of mind. More information about services in your area can be found at your local children’s information service. You can find the right resource at the Family and Childcare Trust.
Finally, have backup plans in place. You might never need to use them but they’re worth having for the peace of mind alone.
What is your biggest concern about going back to work? Leave a comment and let me know.
Start planning today
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t know where to start? Feeling stuck? Lacking confidence? Want to return to work soon?
If you are a mum who’s taken a career break, and now you want to go back to paid work, book your place on The Confident Mother Experience and I will show you in even more detail how you CAN feel confident and strong. You CAN make the right decisions for you and your family. You CAN go back AND on your terms.
I designed this programme to help you identify the exact steps you need to take, when AND in which order. You will update your LinkedIn profile, refresh your CV, start networking, get clarity on what’s most important to you, and create a realistic and positive action plan to go back to work with confidence. Book your place today.
I am here to support you every step of the way.