Why childcare is all about the pick ‘n’ mix

Wondering how you’re going to navigate childcare for the next 100 years?

Yes, us too.  This week has marked the start of our new childcare arrangements.  For Beaver anyway.

I say it like we have arrangements.  We don’t.  We have something resembling a pick ‘n’ mix. Because for the foreseeable future, by which I mean the next ten years at least, this is how we will be doing things.  Picking and mixing our childminders, from grandmas’, nannies and aunties to friends, neighbours.  Absolutely anyone who is willing and available in fact.  For after school, half terms and that dreaded eternity that is the summer holidays.

We’ve started with The Auntie.  The cool, doting Auntie that buys brilliant presents – robot wheelie case with flashing lights, take that Trunki – but who plays drums for a living and is possibly more comfortable touring in Japan during an earthquake than looking after two children under five.

Day one.  The briefing.  Which ended up being brief.  A quick scan of the A4 page of instructions after spaghetti carbonara and a few beers.  ‘You’ll be fine,’ I said.

‘And Beaver will tell me anything I don’t know anyway, won’t she?’ The Auntie said hopefully.

‘Yes.  But Beaver does lie.’

Day two.  Daddy Pig and I left for work with The Auntie up and dressed at 8.00 AM.  She often does not rise before midday so this in itself was an impressive start.

We got text updates and pictures throughout the day and when we returned that evening Beaver and Godivy were in the bath, doing exactly what they should be doing, better than they have ever done it.  I watched with intrigue as The Auntie’s lovely friend (who had come to help) calmly told Beaver off for splashing.  And I marvelled at how Beaver actually listened.  Wow, not a raised voice in earshot.

So I went for a run.  Because I didn’t want to get in the way of all the serenity.

Day three.  Daddy Pig and I slept in a bit, convinced that our work here was done because The Auntie and lovely friend were in fact some sort of modern day Mary Poppins.  And because there is SO much more time in the mornings when you don’t have to get two children fit for the outside world.

By the evening, I was fully on board with our new way of living.  I wafted in from work, waving to Beaver and Godivy (in the bath, again behaving impeccably) before heading straight to the kitchen and the wine.  Wow if this is what it’s like having a nanny, I’m getting one.

Oh and The Auntie and lovely friend had done crafts. Yes, crafts!  The thing that keeps me awake at night. BECAUSE. I. JUST. CAN’T. BEAR. DOING. CRAFTS.  There were Pirate patches. Flowers with the middle bits. Butterflies with flappy wings.  String had been used. And pipe cleaners.  Crikey, I didn’t even know we had pipe cleaners.  All hail The Auntie!

So, did she prove me wrong?  Did she ever. Because they didn’t just survive.  The Auntie and lovely friend excelled.  I mean, do you remember when you first had to look after kids?  And your own kids at that.  The sheer shock of those long, never-ending 12 hour days (and the rest)?  There was no inkling of that here.  Incredible.

Either that or having children is actually a lot like being in the midst of an earthquake.

Surviving Motherhood Tip#9 – how to find term-time childcare

  1. Do after school playdates with a mum who works different days to you.
  2. Sign up for those gold-dust places at the after school clubs as early as you can.
  3. Live near family.  As near as you can.  Live with them in fact.
  4. Hire a nanny.  Preferably Mary Poppins.  But definitely one that does crafts.  And knows what a pipe cleaner is.

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