Babysitting and Childcare in London
Raising a child can be an expensive business and childcare can be one of the largest outlays, particularly if you use a day nursery or nanny to care for your child. There are other more economical options too.
Ask Family for Help
If you have retired parents or a sister who is a full time mum you could ask them for help with babysitting. Most family arrangements incur no fee and they can be used in combination with other childcare arrangements. For instance, grandma could take your child to nursery while you are at work.
Get a Sitter
If you only need childcare part-time or for social occasions you could get a babysitter. Some people employ neighbours or teenage family members for this task. There is no minimum age for babysitting as required by law but the NSPCC suggest that a child should be at least 14 before they are asked to babysit another child.
If you’re not comfortable with this and would prefer a professional sitter, there are websites you can join where you can hire a sitter with a background in childcare. Many sitters listed on such sites are nursery nurses, childminders or teachers and all can provide credentials. Cost varies but is usually similar to the hourly fee for childminding in your area, plus an agency fee. There is also a small cost to become a member of the site.
Get a Childminder
A registered childminder is a cheaper childcare option than day nursery care. The average hourly wage of a childminder in the UK is only £3.93 an hour. There are several advantages to this type of childcare arrangement. It provides a more homely environment for the child and may be easier for some children to settle in. There is one to one attention and a much smaller group of children like that in a family. Your child can form an attachment with the minder more effortlessly than he or she would in a nursery setting.
There is less risk of pneumonia, stomach infections and other diseases when compared with a day care centre.
The minder can take your child to playgroup or to the park and can pick him up from after-school club. Meals are often included and the fees are the cheapest of all childcare fees, next to using family members.
Organise a Nanny Share
Nannies are expensive, earning around £500 a week but they can care for your child in your own home, an advantage if you have a sensitive child. You may be able to reduce your costs by organising a nanny share with other parents. If your nanny doesn’t mind working with other children at the same time you can share the cost of the bill between you all.
Use a Day Nursery
The average weekly cost of having an under 2 year old in a day nursery full time in London is £304.12. The cost of childcare has continued to rise beyond inflation while parent’s wages have remained the same. However, there are ways to reduce the bill. You could combine day nursery care with help from family or ask your employer for childcare vouchers which will pay for £1000 a year of childcare.
All three and four year olds are also entitled to 15 hours of free childcare and education so if you have a child in this age group you can save money.
The main advantages of using a day nursery are that they provide a high quality education for your child and can help him become more outgoing as he becomes used to interacting with a large group of peers.