The four pillars of childcare

Published: 21/07/2020

It’s almost time to go back to work and you’ve decided you need an extra pair of hands to help you with your little ones. The question is: what childcare options are out there? 

Too often parents find that they’ll go down a certain childcare path recommended by a friend or an online forum, only to find it doesn’t work for them and their family. There's also the popular debates, such as nanny or nursery (you can read our blog 'Nanny vs Nursery: Weighing Up The Options'), along with the modern day challenges of finding childcare in the coronavirus pandemic.

There are typically four categories of childcare available: childcare companies, childminders, nannies and family or friends. In this article, we’ll be breaking down each type of childcare along with their pros and cons to help you find the best solution for you and your family.

Option 1: Childcare companies

Childcare companies include kindergartens, creches and nurseries. Children are typically dropped off by a parent and cared for all day by the nursery staff, and take part in activities with a focus on learning and development, such as drawing, playing and interacting with other children of similar ages and singing songs. Most nurseries have a “key worker policy”, meaning your children will be looked after by a particular member of the nursery staff who will report back to you at the end of each day. 

The benefits of nurseries, kindergartens and creches

Nurseries are Ofsted regulated and regularly inspected by official bodies to ensure they meet a certain standard of safety and staffing. All staff working in a nursery have been inspected by Ofsted and will have been DBS checked and trained in paediatric first aid. 

Many parents opt for a nursery because of their potential for social interaction. Your child is taught to share and play with others (which is especially important if they don't have any siblings) and become familiar with the nursery staff, giving them a sense of structure and familiarity outside of the home. It also allows you as a parent to connect with other adults, which can be helpful if you cannot pick up or drop off your child one day. 

The drawbacks of nurseries, kindergartens and creches

However, nurseries have set opening and closing times, and often charge extra if you are late picking up your child. This can be a problem if you work shifts or have long hours, or even if you have a commute where getting stuck in traffic is a possibility. 

Another issue that comes with nurseries is that one-on-one interaction is not always a possibility, leaving some children without the extra support they may need. They may not always get on with the other children either, which may make them dread going each day. 

While many see nurseries as an economical option, this is only the case if you are enrolling one child. Costs can very quickly add up if you have two or more children in the nursery at the same time.

Finally, as nurseries mean your child will be interacting with other children, they are more likely to get sick and bring infection into your home. This is especially so in the current coronavirus pandemic, which has seen nurseries across the country close. Nurseries will also not admit sick children, which may leave you needing back-up care at the last minute.

Option 2: Childminders

Similar to nurseries, childminders work with children from different families, but this time from the comfort of their own homes. They are all Ofsted inspected, DBS checked and have checked in with social services. They can be found on social media groups and through the local council and government websites.

The benefits of using a childminder

As childminders look after different children, it means that your child will be with children of different age groups, which much like nursery sees that they will be able to develop their social and interpersonal skills. Childminders are also likely to have their own children, which means that they will be able to empathise with you as a parent and better meet your child’s needs. 

Childminders also look after far fewer children than nurseries, meaning that your child is more likely to get more attention and will be able to develop a relationship with their childminder. 

The drawbacks of using a childminder

However, childminders cannot always guarantee back-up care if they are unwell or on holiday, which may leave you without back-up care at the last minute. As childminders are normally part of a network they may recommend another childminder for this time, but this is not always the case. 

With childminders being based in their own homes, there is no guarantee that they will be flexible when it comes to picking up or dropping off at after school clubs. There is also no guarantee that you will be able to come across a good childminder in your local area. Reputable childminders are likely to be booked up for months and that’s providing there are childminders in the area, both close enough to your child’s school and to your place of work, so that drop-off and pick-up won't interfere with your commute time too much.

Option 3: Family Members

Family members are a popular option for those who are in the enviable position of having them close by, whether it's a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or even a (much older) sibling. Family members are usually happy to look after your children for free, and provide a familiar face when you are away. If an aunt or uncle has their own children of a similar age, it can be a great opportunity for the children to develop the social skills they would in other childcare settings.

However, many working parents are likely to have moved away from their families for work, meaning that this option is not always available. Even if they do have family members close by, there is no guarantee that they will be available to help out, especially if they are working too. There is also the risk of spreading illnesses to elderly relatives and factors such as shielding may mean they are unavailable.

Option 4: Nannies

Nannies provide one-on-one care for your child in their familiar home surroundings and are entirely focused on tending to their needs, from feeding and cleaning, to educational activities and play time. As this is in the child’s home, the nanny can cater towards the child’s schedule, ensuring they are as comfortable as possible.

The benefits of hiring a nanny

A nanny is also a familiar face and can very quickly come to feel like a part of the family. This is especially the case with our nannies at myTamarin. As we focus on matching parents and nannies by both objective and subjective criteria, we’ve seen placements last 2.5x longer than the rest of the market.

There are also logistical and scheduling benefits associated with hiring a nanny, especially if your nanny is live-in. By having a nanny around constantly it means there is less worry if there is a traffic jam or you need to work late, and nannies can be especially helpful in putting your child to bed if need be. You also won’t have to worry about taking time off work for trips to the dentist or doctor, and nannies will generally be flexible when it comes to picking up from after school clubs and events.

Nannies can also help out with light housework, such as laundry and cooking (or more general household duties in the case of a nanny-housekeeper) meaning that you have more time in the evenings to spend quality time with your family.

The drawbacks of hiring a nanny

The main reason many parents hesitate to hire a nanny is because of the cost. This is a valid concern, but only if you have one child; with two or more children, nannies can be cost-effective, and far cheaper than nurseries or other forms of childcare. Recognising this, myTamarin have introduced pay-as-you-go monthly payments to make managing agency fees fairer to parents.

If your nanny falls sick or goes on holiday, it may leave you without help at short notice. However, myTamarin are happy to step in here and provide back-up childcare. 

Many parents also worry that their child may not be well socialised and may only have limited opportunities to interact with other children. If this is a concern of yours, speak to your nanny - most are happy to take your little ones to play centres and parks, or arrange play dates so that they get the interaction and develop the social skills they need.  If you are concerned about socialising your children due to coronavirus, check out our top tips on ways to develop your child's social skills in lockdown.

Choosing childcare can involve making tough decisions, so it’s important to research each childcare provider thoroughly and to do what works best for you and your family. If you’re still on the fence as to whether or not you should hire a private nanny, get in touch with us at

If you’ve decided hiring a nanny is right for you, we’d love to hear from you! Sign up today to discuss your requirements with a member of the myTamarin team.

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