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Securing a Nursery Place for your Child

Date: August 20, 2013 Author: Bumpkins Team Categories: #TheBumpkinsDifference, paperwork and official stuff

The Bumpkins Difference can be seen every time you visit Bumpkins, it's part of who we are...

Congratulations! You have just found out you’re pregnant and now you are being bombarded with information. I remember being desperate for information, wanting to know everything I could about pregnancy, parenting, child development, labour, maternity clothes, and NCT classes! But the one thing I didn’t want to think about was securing a nursery place and returning to work. Why would you want to research that? It seems a lifetime away…that’s for after the baby is born and perhaps at this moment if you are only just pregnant it could be 18 months away!

But you do need to put thought into childcare solutions for when you return to work. It is important and needs to be high on your ‘to do’ list. For most of us it is a “when” you return to work and not an “if”.  I wanted to go back to work with both of my children but I do appreciate that not everyone is happy to go back and the thought of leaving your baby with someone else is potentially heart breaking. And this is even more reason why you might want to take the time to research childcare options and find a nursery, nanny or childminder that works for you and your family. To be sure that the decision you make is the right one and that you get your first choice to look after you baby not whoever is left a month beforehand.

It is worth looking at each option, taking time to ask lots of questions and think about costings.

  • What are you paying for?
  • Why would you choose this person over and above anyone else?
  • It is a person you are choosing whether you are looking at a nursery or an individual.
  • You have to take time to meet any staff ideally at least twice if not more.

Believe me when I tell you once you hit around 8 months of pregnancy the last thing you want to do is trail around childcare options at that point you need to be packing your bag, filling your freezer and enjoying the last few child-free weeks by going to the cinema every night (its true you won’t go out again for the next 5 years – but you won’t mind either, would you have ever thought that possible?!)

Good nurseries are popular and in demand. Ofsted (the Government Regulatory Body) visits and reports on every nursery. You can look at the Ofsted website to read those reports. But do remember that they only visit once every few years so the report is often out of date, they also measure on very specific criteria and whilst it is a good thorough review you have to consider what is important to you, what do you want to see in a good nursery.

For me, before I had a nursery I assumed everyone would have a set standard and that Ofsted would be the gold standard. Now, I know more and I have learnt based on experience that not all nurseries are created equal and more importantly not all nursery owners are a) involved b) want to spend money on their business. You need to be able to read behind the reports from Ofsted and understand why the report is phrased in a certain way. Does it mean the same thing to you it does to the reviewer.

So visit early into your pregnancy, as soon as you can and consider the following:

  • Take time to visit at least twice to see the nursery in action.
  • Understand that the nursery is not a zoo and the children that are being cared for are the priority. See how the children respond to visitors, are they confident, do they come up and ask you questions – are the children interested in a new person? If they are, it’s a strong sign that they are settled, happy and belong. Having said this, you are the visitor and it’s their space so please do remember that as you walk around….
  • Key days in the week are always more popular and so get booked early. At Bumpkins it is normal for us to be booking baby spaces up to 12 – 18 months in advance. Given we can only have 15 babies in our baby room each day and they don’t move up into the next room until they can walk at around a year, it means there aren’t that many places.

As a nursery owner I wish I could have two Wednesdays in every week, because everyone seems to want them! So if you have very specific requirements about what days you think you might want then even more reason to visit early. We are booking up to a year in advance. We will hold a full-time place for your baby if you would like us to as at this stage – because how do you know now what days you definitely want to work? Or what your employer will agree to? Having said that, it might be that you will be lucky and get a space in our baby room at short notice but you may not get the days you want – it is always worth asking if you haven’t got anything sorted.

The sooner you visit the sooner you can make a choice of the best solution for you and your baby. Parents-to-be often think they will leave it until the baby is born and then with the whirlwind of a newborn it can be 6 months before they consider that the end of maternity leave is looming. We’ve had instances where they chose Bumpkins all those months ago but never confirmed their request for a place. And of course, by this time we just don’t have the spaces available as we have naturally taken bookings from those who have had the foresight to book ahead, or have friends who have told them to make sure they get booked in early.

It is heartbreaking for us to have a Mum sobbing down the phone that they so want a place at Bumpkins but we have no capacity and all I can do is put them on a last minute space list. We do get some last minute nursery places once our pre-booked Mums confirm days they are returning to work but we can’t guarantee what will be available and when.

So with all that in mind, if you are pregnant or know someone who is, please urge them to get their visits to nurseries booked in, to go at least twice to visit and to put the actual requests in, for their needs – even if they aren’t fully sure what they will be. We hate for anyone to be disappointed and want as many people as possible to be able to experience #TheBumpkinsDifference!

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