Choosing a childminder was definitely the right decision for us.
Clare, Gateshead, UK
I went back to work when Freddie was 10 months old. I worked 4 days a week, but really I was doing my old full-time job, I just had less time to do it in.
Nursery wasn’t an option for us - we couldn’t afford it and we needed more flexibility than they could offer. Thankfully we found a childminder, Deb, who lived a few streets away. That was perfect - I don’t drive so it was easy to drop him off before I went to work. And if I’m running late to pick him up it’s not a problem, the doors don’t get locked.
Freddie did 3 days with Deb and 1 day with my sister to start with. It was a nice balance, but I felt really guilty for ages, at least the first month. Was it the right decision? Was 4 days away from him too much? What if they did things differently to me? What would happen if he was upset - would Deb give him cuddles? You can’t help but play things over in your mind.
But it’s been great. He loves Deb - I think Freddie kissed her before he ever kissed me! And they do fun stuff every day - go to toddler groups, soft play, farms. They do way more stuff than if he was at home with me - I’d have the housework to do! And it’s made him really sociable too. He loves going to pick the big kids up from school. He’s furious if he can’t get out of his buggy to play hopscotch in the playground! And the other kids love him too - this one girl, Alice, really mothers him - always giving him kisses and cuddles - he loves the attention!
I think one of the reasons he took to it so easily, is that we’d always left him with other people - friends and family - since he was really young. He was used to being with other people and didn’t need to be with us all the time. We did some taster days with the childminder too, so we knew he was happy before I went back to work. That really helped. And by 10 months he was pretty much on solids, just a bottle in the afternoon, so that wasn’t anything to worry about.
Deb gave us his first report not long ago - full of photos and stories of what he’s been up to. Looking back, I don’t know what I was so worried about. Maybe feeling guilty and questioning yourself is just part of being a parent!