Whatever's got in the way of your childcare plan, we'll show you how to get an alternative you can trust, fast.
You may have your childcare planned out with military precision, but that doesn’t stop life getting in the way. Work deadline. Poorly nanny. Poorly baby. Whatever the reason, you can get reliable childcare. And fast.
If your childminder has let you down, you can often book last-minute childcare to cover for her. Depending on where you live, you can usually get a nursery place within 30 minutes and a childminder within two hours. It’s worth checking if the company you work for provides subsidised emergency childcare cover. Some make it part of their benefits system alongside healthcare and pension plans, so your memberships fees could be reduced.
You’ll need to register and pay a monthly membership fee, which can start from around £9, as well as the cost of the daycare, which varies depending on type and location.
Try Emergency Childcare – it can offer you nannies, childminders and nurseries in most areas of the UK.
Perfect if you're a freelancer. These are nurseries attached to office space. You drop off your child for the day while you work next door or upstairs, so you’re never far away if your baby needs you.
They’re handy if you’re still breastfeeding but need a space to work or have meetings, and are particularly useful if you’re freelance. Currently only available in south-east England, it’s hoped they’ll eventually spread across the UK.
You can pay on a day-by-day basis, or pay upfront for a set amount of days. Ad hoc sessions, which cover the nursery cost and using the office space, can cost from £10 per hour. You may also need to pay a membership fee. Try Officreche.com – this Brighton-based nursery has meeting rooms so you can network and drop your baby off at the crèche. Or third-door.com in south-west London, where you can drop your baby off on an ad hoc or regular basis.
Maternity or night nurse
Perfect for the early days. A maternity nurse who will come to your house and stay with you after you’ve given birth. A mum might hire one if she needs extra help, or if her partner is away and she needs two pairs of hands with a newborn. Some maternity and night nurses can be hired for just one or two days a week, rather than full time, which helps to spread the cost while still giving you a rest.
A live-in maternity nurse can cost from £170 for every 24 hours, and you have to take into account the cost of them living in your home. A night nurse costs £11–14/hour. Try Sleepingbabies.co.uk, which can find a maternity or night nurse for you wherever you live in the world.
Tinies also has a register of night and maternity nurses. It also has post-natal doulas on its books, who are similar to maternity nurses but also help with cooking, cleaning and shopping.
This is great if you want flexibility. Instead of signing your baby up for a permanent place in a nursery or with a childminder, you can sometimes opt for pay-as-you-go childcare. This is useful if you only need someone to occasionally look after your baby or toddler.
The average cost will depend where you live, but expect to pay from around £4 per hour, per child. Try Ring round the childcare providers in your area to find out if they can provide pay-as-you-go care.
If you and your partner need a night off and the grandparents aren't free to look after the kids, you can often book an evening babysitter at short notice. The sitter can either come to your house or, for an extra fee, you can book them to come to a hotel, which is useful if you’re away for the weekend with your baby and want a night out. You’re usually expected to book them for a minimum of three hours.
If you register with a babysitter agency, you may have to pay a membership and booking fee on
top of the evening wage. Minimum wage (currently £6.19 per hour) or more is expected.
Try babysitter agency sitters.co.uk lets you book online, by phone or by text and has a network of experienced babysitters across the country. Findababysitter.co.uk has thousands of babysitters on its books and can sort out a sitter for you on the same day.
If you’re going away and want someone to help you, book a holiday nanny. She'll travel with you to your destination – both in the UK and abroad – and will then available during the day and for evenings.
It’s not a cheap option – the nanny will be paid a set rate for the week, which can start from around £469 – giving 45 hours of daytime care and 18 hours of evening babysitting. However, this can be changed to what works for you. Remember that you’re also responsible for paying for the nanny’s flights, accommodation, food and drink.
Try Holidaynanny.co.uk for easy-going, flexible childcare that can work around the needs of your family.