Making childcare arrangements for your baby requires careful planning. In order to work out what you can afford, you will need to consider:
• Whether the cost of childcare is coming out of one or two salaries;
• How much you will be earning when you return to work;
• Whether there are any subsidised childcare options such as a workplace crèche.
• Where do you want your child cared for - at home, close to work, or close to your partner's work? (If you are still breastfeeding, it might make sense to arrange childcare close to where you work.
• How much flexibility do you need from your carer? (Nurseries have fixed hours and impose penalties if you are late picking your baby up.) • How flexible is your employer - does your company appreciate that you'll need to leave early or take time off if your baby is ill?
• Do you want childcare from someone young and energetic or someone maturer?
• Do you want someone who will also clean for you? (A nanny will do the children's washing and ironing, but not yours. A relative might clean the whole house for you!)
• Do you want someone experienced/qualified in looking after children?
• Do you mind whether your baby's carer is male or female? (Some nurseries employ male carers.)
• Are you organised in the morning? (If the answer is definitely 'no', it might be best to have someone coming to your home.)
• Do you want your child to be with other children?
• Do you want an active, child-centred environment for your baby (nursery) or a homely one where your child fits in with the carer's schedule (childminder)?
Make sure you and your partner are in agreement about childcare arrangements. Disagreement on this sensitive topic can be disastrous!