Childcare, Children, Education, Family, Fatherhood, Parenting

Nursery, School, Child Care Choices

All choices when raising children are difficult, none more so than who will look after your carefully crafted humans when your not around. The ramifications of these choices are huge as every day in life it’s our job to guide these souls on their journey to life. We’re not responsible for the choices they make or character they are, but certainly through our choices as parents is what guides them to their choices and character.

In regards to this point there are no clear an easy choices and always a compromise. Some parents may either opt or have no choice but nursery five days a week, others a child minder.  With schooling some parents may chose a public school others forced into it through lack of places.

In the last four years we’ve made lots of these choices as parents.  As Dad I wasn’t always happy with them but as per decorum of society and our own personal situation I work full-time leaving my partner to pick up the pieces.  After maternity leave Mum opted for a three day week of work and after many visits we chose the lovely Blueberry Bears Nursery in Cardiff.  Our daughter did take to the nursery really well without any real issues yet as a Dad I didn’t feel comfortable for some time at leaving our Daughter with strangers for three days a week (as lovely as they were).  As time progressed and we got to know the staff that got easier and easier, equally it helped as our daughter grew-up her demands for entertainment and the need to diffuse the abundant energy.  She has grown massively from being in Nursery yet the odd thing I find is our Daughter remains incredibly shy, which is something she didn’t shed.

The next decision that would come was the dreaded half-day nursery place.  This caused all kids of trouble as our Daughter’s nursery didn’t offer a “wrap-around” service (i.e. pick-up after half-a-day nursery).  This alongside not being in a good catchment area made us as parents frantic and stumped.  Firstly do we take on a house move and subsequent massive mortgage for the catchment we want and the double whammy what do we do with child-care after the half-day (assuming we bagged a place).  We viewed house after house and couldn’t find anything that worked, the very first house we saw was ideal but as it was the first assumed better would come around.  Resigned to not being able to move following tax changes and Brexit, we waited for fate to determine the school place.  In-between this I threw in the option of starting Nia full-time in a Public School as the increase in mortgage would be more than this option and it would have been full-time, it didn’t go down well as my partner was dead against that elitism. Thankfully we managed to get into our first choice buying us time on a house move but the second issue at hand was what to do with Child Care.

In the end it just so happened that my Mum started to work part-time having Thurs/Fri off and my partner altered her day’s off work to Mon/Tues.  This meant our daughter would only need one maybe two days of childcare as we’ve never liked burdening the grandparents.  My partner furiously looked for Child-Minders preferring that over a day-care nursery move, I was still pushing the public school option (death wish) or a nursery move so our daughter has that social interaction, being as shy as she was.  In the end we moved our Daughter to Darling Buds Nursery for two half-days, again another fantastic nursery just further down the road but it was one that we didn’t pick from day-one for our parental reasons.  In the end this was a compromise.

Now in the last year the round-about has swung again, we have a baby Son and in the middle of that Brexit has played havoc with opportunities to move and job security.  In the middle of this coming back to haunt us are the same decisions such us move or not move, which school to apply for and what will we do with childcare in holidays.  Again we’ve opted to not move having more financial freedom, as much as we would love a nicer family home.  As my partner is on Maternity leave we’ll tackle holidays and after school care when it comes.  We applied for school places with Albert Road as our preferred school, knowing it was impossible to get into from where we live, and as it happens fate handed us that school.  (I say fate as it really does depend a lot on outside factors such as babies born in that particular year). I’m.being honest with you these were agonising choices and we disagreed and thought very differently as parents. The only thing we could agree on is the magnitude of the desicions we were making and how unfair it is that the wealth, status or position of parents can define a child’s life.

We will begin the cycle all again four more times combined for our Daughter and Son.

Why am I rabbiting on about this?  Honestly whilst so far touch-wood it’s worked out for us we won’t know for sure until our daughter strikes out on her own.  The choices we’ve made are for a variety of reasons and I wouldn’t base yours on ours.  We haven’t been totally happy with all the choices but as close to happy as we can be with the compromises.  Our Daughter is spectacular as will your children be.

Throughout my life as a parent the only thing I can advocate is to be happy with your decisions, if you are not happy with them it will reflect in your parenting having real consequences.  If you’re run ragged managing childcare then you will not have the energy or time to spend with your children, as is the same if you’re not happy with arrangements.  People’s choices are determined by a great many things, we’ve had it easier than a lot of people whose choices are based on far more complicated.  Equally the school system is rigged, people who can afford to live in great catchment areas prevail.  Do the best you can and remember all children have a capacity to learn wherever they are, it’s what we do at home that aids that.

Our Daughter is in a great school yet simply will not engage in any kind of homework with us, why because we’re useless teachers who are following in our parents footsteps to educate.  That is another fear, how our attempts at setting her to phonic and number master has impacted her willingness to learn.  We’ll find out this year…

It would be lovely to share experiences people have over these choices, whether like me you had to be hand’s off or you’re Dad’s who have let work take a back seat or made the compromises.  Share in the comments and perhaps we can see a different viewpoint to help us shape our Dadding…

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