Mother and Baby

Have You Got A Childcare Plan B?

Section: Childcare

There’s nothing to induce a stress attack like being a working mum whose childcare arrangements have fallen through. Last minute. The panic! The frantic phonecalls! Line up these solutions

It’s the working parent’s worst nightmare – you’re already running late for work and your childminder/nanny/au pair phones in sick. After your first reaction (probably ‘arrrghhh!’) it’s panic stations as you try and call in favours from every person you think of.

But you shouldn’t feel bad about it. Firstly, it’s inevitable that at some point your childcare won’t go exactly to plan. Secondly, your employers should understand this. Thirdly? There’s always a way around it….

If your child is at nursery...

There’s an advantage to this because if a staff member is off sick there’s another one to take her place. But the downside? ‘If your child becomes ill during the day, then you or your other half will have to collect him asap,’ warns Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY). ‘Nurseries and childminders cannot keep an ill child on their premises as it can make the other children sick too.’ The best you can do is ask your boss if you can work for home. Never has the internet seemed such a life saver.

If you have a childminder...

Discuss a Plan B before you even engage their services. ‘Talk with her in detail about what would happen if she was suddenly taken ill or unavailable,’ says Liz. ‘For instance, she might be part of a network of other carers who could step in and replace her.’ Of course, it’s hardly ideal entrust your child to a stranger – so ask your childminder if your little one will get to meet and regularly interact with these other carers via playgroups, for example.

If you use a nanny...

‘You often find that people nanny share,’ Liz says. ‘And that within the nanny community there will be others that your child has met, interacted with and trusts.’ Alternatively, ask a local mum friend if you can share their nanny in emergencies. In that situation, plan ahead and trying to meet the nanny first before an emergency happens. ‘Invite her over with her charge for an afternoon and you can see how she interacts with her charge and your child,’ says Amanda Coxen, Childcare Expert at


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