We regularly re-evaluate many parts of our lives. Look to see what is and isn’t working. We try to fix the bits that are not working well, or stressing us out too much. And take note of the things that are working well.
Childcare has always been a toughie. Especially as society totally pushes on us parents that we absolutely need to have other people looking after our children.
We’ve mostly always tried to seek childcare solutions with the younger kids. This being a nanny, childminder, au pair or a nursery. Whilst we’ve had some good experiences in the past, I think on average the experiences haven’t really been so great and end up causing much more stress than benefits.
Admittedly, Eloise is at a local Montessori nursery at the moment, 4 mornings a week. We knew it would be good for her as all her brothers went there too. But she couldn’t start there until she was 2.5 years old. That’s a bit of a wait to get some Eloise free time.
Our attempts at finding a childminder, au pair or nanny have mostly completely failed in the past 3 years. I think we are so disheartened by it all that we’ve decided not to bother anymore.
There are a few reasons for this.
It feels like our unschooling journey is no longer compatible with most types of childcare. I think it is more us that has changed. We are more experienced as a parents, our standards are probably higher and unschooling has changed our mindsets. It is getting harder to find people with similar ‘life’ approaches and understandings of what values we are trying to live by.
One of the biggest things that bothers us and we find hard is to justify is the cost. A nanny would be £10-15 per hour. For 20 hours a week at a £12.50 rate, that’s £250, or £1k per month. That’s a fair chunk of money for part time help. We’re much more of the mindset of trying to do things frugally. Perhaps we can’t get as much work done, but we also don’t have to stress about paying that £1k per month.
Not having big child care costs means that we don’t feel so bad spending money elsewhere. I don’t stress about eating out if we don’t manage to prepare food, for example. We have a cleaner that comes once a week, and that is always a positive thing for us.
Is child care a modern day thing? How much do kids really need looking after? Especially when we have a bigger family where everyone can help out. Our approach has become that everyone needs to chip in. Everyone but Piper can help out with ‘some things in our house atm! So kids can be out in the garden playing, or inside engaged with some activities, or watching a movie. Sometimes as parents we are the ones there with them, other times someone else from the family is being responsible for the younger ones. This leaves myself or my husband free to do other things - attend to another child, do some house work or cooking or perhaps sneak in some work activities.
Then there are the times when Piper just sleeps and sleeps. I can’t imagine her being in the care of someone else just to watch her sleep for hours on end.
Plus, really, there is so much time in the evenings to get work done! Eloise is normally asleep by 7-8pm. Codie does his own quiet thing until he goes to bed at 9pm. Piper currently chills out in the evening and doesn’t go to sleep before 11pm. Piper is a bit of a night owl, which is annoying. Not that annoying when she lies on the carpet near me for 2 hours, just chilling out (!). Another positive side is she often doesn’t wake up until midday. Yup MIDDAY!
But her routine will change as quickly as she does, so I can’t really plan for that.
So, I guess, if you have work that has flexibility how and when you can work, it is possible to find the time to do work without (much) child care support.