Trying to conceive is an exercise in frustration – you ponder for months, years even, on when to have a baby and you psych yourself up for it and decide you are going to start trying. Out goes the birth control and then… Nothing. Months of nothing. Why were you ever worrying if you missed the odd pill when you can miss 100 and still not be pregnant?!
Selecting childcare is proving to be a similar object lesson in frustration.
First you reject other options; because childminders have too high a ratio of childminders to children with limited facilities and nurseries are too institutional, long hours, and dens of disease with too early closing times. But you only decide this once you have visited all the options in the area – just in case one was different. (To be fair, we found a nursery we liked – where the kids didn’t look like they were from Stepford and they took them out in a huge wheelbarrow thing to play in the park, but it closed at 6pm and with both our work finishing at 6pm, that put a bit of a spanner in the works).
Which leaves nannies as the only option – able to work in your home, to your childcare philosophy, to your hours. But they are properly expensive – especially once you have paid their tax, their national insurance and your employer’s tax – a going rate of £10 per hour quickly becomes £14.50, and this to be paid largely from your post-tax income (unless you can persuade your employer to pay you the amazing £28 per week, i.e. 2 hours’ worth, in childcare vouchers that you are allowed as a higher rate tax payer and find an Ofsted registered nanny to take them).
But you decide that your child’s happiness is the most important thing, and that it will be an investment in your career because you will be able to give it more focus as you won’t constantly be off with an ill child or having to leave early to get back in time to avoid penalties, and so a nanny it is!
After all that soul searching, you rather hope that the perfect nanny will drop from the sky when the wind changes. So far, no such luck…