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Reassurance re childminder!

Question:

I've just started my 13 month old DS with a local childminder (not registered but no-one is in this area) who lives v. close by and was recommended by a neighbour. She also minds a couple of other toddlers and sometimes an older kid in the summer. She seems fine and he seems reasonably happy there but I am a bit concerned that there might be a lack of stimulation for my DS, there aren't many toys around any time I call (I've left in a few of his own) and I think the TV is on a lot - probably for the other kids who are slightly older. I'm not fussed on DS watching a lot of TV to be honest. I don't think the childminder is the type to do games, stories etc although I have no doubt they are all well fed, changed etc.
I do realise that I'm just not happy leaving him, full stop, and feel guilty, so maybe I'm just looking for problems? THe handiness of it is a big factor as I'm expecting number two in October. I'm wondering whether a creche might be a better option longer term (I wouldn't move him now but maybe when I go back to work after no. 2?). I don't know many people using childminders as my friends' children tend to be in creches, so maybe I'm expecting too much? I'm just looking for some opinions / advice / reassurance really!
Thanks
A
Answers:
Aoife sometimes you just get a feeling about something and you have to trust your gut.
There may not be any real reason to feel unhappy but it is hard sending a child in to someone every day when you just don't feel good about it.
Sure if you are due in October your little one will only be with the childminder a few more weeks so maybe after your ML you can switch.
I have found it is easier to question stuff at creches as it is less personal.
Answers:
Thanks Amber. You are right about being able to question stuff at creches and it being less personal. At the end of the day she is my neighbour and it is her own home I just don't feel I can suggest that she isn't looking after him properly, plus in a creche there would be a few staff so they might not take it as personally...? I brought DS to her later one day and she had the other toddler strapped into the buggy in front of the TV while she washed the floor / waited on it to dry. I could kind of (kind of) understand why and thought it might have been a one-off but I just think that wouldn't happen in a creche...
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Aoife, I'm new to this so other more long established childminders may correct me. I started childminding 2 children in my own home (I have 2 sons myself) about 6 weeks ago. I allow 30 mins of tv in the morning and 30 mins in the afternoon (sometimes I might allow longer if the weather is particularly bad or they're being a bit fussy). There are literally tons of toys in this house and we get out and about as much as possible - even if it's only out in the back garden. I also play games with the older two when I can - memory, snakes and ladders etc and I spend time with the smallies doing peg boards, puzzles etc.
I try to do my cooking, tidy up (I still have my cleaner ) when the babies are napping and the older two are in montessori/school.
What Amber says rings true, no matter why you feel uncomfortable, the fact is you do and you will never be happy if you're not 100% sure about the care your little one is getting. I know it's easy to say now but with childminding you should establish what kind of things your child will be doing as part of getting to know eachother. The Mom of the two I mind was very honest about what she wanted and it was just fortunate that both of us had similar outlooks. Maybe just tackle one thing at a time? Maybe ask about how often the telly is on and say that you think DS is a bit young for watching much tv and could she regulate the amount he watches.
I myself used creches when I was working outside the home as I was terrified of making the wrong judgement call with a childminder so I do understand as I would have found it difficult to develop a relationship with someone and then question things afterwards even though I encourage the parents of the two I mind to be open with me if they're not happy about anything. It is a difficult situation but I honestly feel caring for a child is about more than feeding and changing them. Children need appropriate stimulation.
Trust your instincts on this and you won't go wrong.
Lami
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Have you spoken to her about their routine? What activties do they do? HOw often they are outside?
I wouldn't be happy with the setup you describe.
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Thanks Lami and ClaireC. I'm relieved people don't think I'm over-reacting as I'm a bit emotional these days (hormones / tired!!) so I do question myself a bit.
It is interesting to hear what another childminder thinks and does with the kids they mind, I appreciate that. I suppose I have been a bit reluctant to question / discuss things with her. My friend was approached by someone who wanted her to mind their DD and they asked so many questions, some a bit OTT, that my friend just backed out thinking the mother would be a nightmare to deal with, so I've been a bit reluctant to do the same thing, although I know I could be diplomatic.
She has just recently got a double-buggy, so weather permitting might go out for a walk and her own older kids are around in the summer / after school so there is probably some stimulation there but other than that I don't hear much about what they actually do all day. In my mind there would be loads of toys, maybe a little TV, stories, playing outside etc - a bit like being at home.....
I was thinking of leaving him there part-time for a number of weeks after I have no. 2 in case I end up with another section (had one the first time) but I think after that I'd have him at home and then possibly look into a creche if/when I go back to work after my ML.
Answers:
As a childminder myself I would not be happy with what you discribed
In my house we do paintings/storys/jigsaws & free play where they find something from the toy box to play with. I send home handprints/pictures etc every now & again & mammy always knows what we've been up to.
When the weather is ok (not often this summer) we go for adventures either in the garden/make a camp etc or out for the day
I would hate to think mammy is unhappy leaving LO here
Hope you get it sorted
Answers:
I don't think you are being fussy. I would not be satisfied with the arrangement you describe above. And, I wouldn't be afraid to ask questions.... when I was sourcing childcare 2 years ago, I asked the same list of questions of both creches and childminders. I didn't care if they thought I was fussy, I wanted to know this stuff before I agreed to put my child there.
A friend of mine is a registered childminder, and she is brilliant with everything that she does with the kids. She has loads of activities and playing and story time and outside-play with the kids - she has a secure back garden, and kids are out with their coats on even on the duller days.She also provides written reports to the parents every evening.
That is the standard that I would expect from a childminder. I would not be happy with excessive TV, or kids strapped in to car seats while the childminder carries on with her own daily chores... (why didn't she mop her floors in the evening when the kids are gone home? or why wasn't the child put in a different area with some stimulating toy to amuse them???)
Anyway, just letting you know that I don't think you are being too fussy.
Answers:
I don't think you are being too fussy at all.
Unless the child had just thrown up on the floor (maybe a possibility?), there was no reason for her to be doing her housework while she was being paid to mind your child. Also, if the child had to be strapped into a buggy for safety could she not have talked to him while cleaning the floor instead of plonking him in front of the telly.
I think the boundaries can become blurred with childminders esp when you already know them but at the end of the day, you are paying for a service which frankly does not sound up to scratch.
When I am being paid to do my job, I can't just carry on doing my housework as well-that gets done outside of my working hours-end of story.
If she is minding a couple of kids properly, she shouldn't really have the time to do housework during the day anyway......
it's hard leaving our los with anyone but when you are not happy it is even harder....
hope you find a solution soon.
H
Answers:
aoife75, i would agree with all the other posters. go with your instinct.
i changed DD from a childminder who was very similar to as you describe. nice enough woman, had teenage kids herself, seemed fine... but it just never sat right with me. and then a few events led me to say that this wasn't the best option and then a very good friend of mine at the time was looking for work and so she started minding DD and it worked out really well. The childminder was "handier" as she collected DD in the morning cause she used to drive past.. but in the end handiness just didn't win out.
like you i just had niggly doubts and then the more the niggled the doubts became reality. now i don't think it was me just looking to fault her... the truth just came out more and more. she was cleaning other people's houses with DD, DD was in her car a lot of the day and she wasn't putting the carseat in proper, i went to her house one day and she was cleaning in the back kitchen and DD was only over a year and was climbing out of the buggy (after napping there), brakes or belt weren't on... if i hadn't arrived i don't know what would have happened. she also made me feel really worthless which i hated, you know comments like "oh she eats for me", and she does this and that for me, and was a weird competitive streak to her about DD!
I 110% do not regret changing her. i made up 100 excuses to the minder cause i felt bad, but i am sure in the end she knows herself i wasn't happy with the arrangement. As soon as i made the decision the only regret i had was not doing it sooner. i think with childminders it is all about your gut instinct! TRUST IT
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You have no idea how much I appreciate these replies, it isn't just me then. I kept thinking that there are other kids who have been there longer and how come their parents are happy - I must just be a fusspot.
You're right taytay, it's niggly doubts but hard to shake off the feeling that it's not ideal. I'm sure you are glad you got your DD out of that situation. Ham, my thoughts exactly on the strapping into buggy / floor washing scene!
The standards some of you are describing are way above what my DS is getting, I'm definitely going to reconsider this. We managed having him at home for 13months and never once plonked him in front of the TV so why should I be happy with that now? I'm happy to pay for a good service, so I'm not quibbling about cost, but she isn't shy about charging the full whack and I send in all meals etc (although I'm happy to do that as I know he is getting a good diet with what I send). I think I'll reduce his days as soon as I can now before no.2 arrives and then have him at home all the time as soon as I'm feeling up to it after no.2. Unless I happen to come across the ideal childminder in the meantime, I'll be going for a creche if/when I'm back at work again.
Thanks again
A
Answers:
aoife, thank you, your post has just reaffirmed my concerns about using a local childminder. They're usually cheaper, and as you say, usually a bit more handy but at the end of the day, you're at the mercy of what another Mother deems to be right and it's harder to have a professional conversation with them about the requirements you have for your child.
I'm returning to work next month after my second child and had my first in a creche. We have recently decided that although the creche is more expensive (we can only barely afford it), it is better peace of mind to ensure that our children get the standard of care we want. They get to play with more children, get a good variety of developmental games and toys, and you can be sure their food well balanced also.
One thing I'd mention that you may not be aware of, but if your child is ill, you may not be able to bring them to the creche where a childminder may take them. Also, our last creche had a rule that on the first day of an antibiotic they had to be kept out of the creche in case of an allergic reaction. When our dd joined the creche she picked up all the bugs and had a run of antibiotics which meant I had to take a lot of days off myself - something I don't think I'd have had to do if she was with a childminder. It's just one point you need to consider when you're making the decision.
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Can we NOT tar all childminders withe same brush please... some of us are great & really appreciated by our mindee's mammy's
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Roma it is hard to put on price on their happiness. My childminder actually works out more expensive than the creche! Good point on the sickness etc, probably good to start him before I go back to work to get some bugs out of the way. Pinkbabe, I'd say there are some great childminders out there - my friend does part-time childminding and if she lived closer to me I'd be leaving DS with her without a shadow of a doubt and I know her well enough to know what she does with her own kids during the day etc. You sound like you do a great job, wish I had been so lucky!
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p.s. my boss has agreed I can take a few days annual leave before I start maternity leave so I'll only have to use the childminder 2 days a week for now. I feel much happier . Hope you haven't been offended pinkbabe!
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NOt @ all... I know leaving your LO with anyone is hard
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You see this is where the trust thing comes in. I went into childminding the same way I handled my job as a PA, determined to provide only the best service. I make all their food from scratch, including home made scones, muffins, etc which the older kids help me bake. We use the toys I use for my own kids so loads of jigsaws, shape sorters, and tons and tons of books. But I understand that it can be so hard to know whether this is happening for real when you meet someone for the first (or even second time).
Roma is right, one benefit of a childminder is that they'll usually take the kids if they're sick but what if the childminder is sick/has an emergency, etc? These were all the things I weighed up when choosing childcare for my own kids and, as I said, I went with a creche!
Going by my conversations with my mindees Mum, I know she just had a good gut feeling about me and 6 weeks in I know I haven't done done anything to cause her to doubt her choice (possibly the opposite - both kids are in NO hurry at all to leave my house in the evenings ). I know for her what she wanted was a family oriented environment where she could be sure her kids would get cuddles/attention if they were sad or tired or sick or whatever and not be left sitting in a corner lost in a room of other kids. I think the creche v childminder choice is hugely personal and there are pros and cons to both. But with a childminder a huge amount comes down to your gut feeling and, as you said, you don't feel good about it at the moment. It's great you can cut down DS's days now before ML. Good luck whatever your choice when the time comes and good luck with the rest of your pregnancy.
Lami
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Sorry, I wasn't intending to offend anyone!! I know there are lots of great childminders out there. I think my view was coloured by someone I know who took kids in to mind with her own, but I felt she didn't really want to, she was constantly moaning about what I thought were reasonable things their parents said or did and the way she talked you'd swear she was doing them a favour rather than being paid to look after them. I know (or at least hope) that this type of childminder is rare, but I would be worried about getting into that situation.
As you all say, it's gut instinct and if you're not happy, then go with that instinct and change childminder if possible, or at least decide on a different option for when you return to work after the oncoming maternity leave.
This may seem like a stupid question, but where exactly do you find a good childminder? I have linked up with our local mother and toddler group while on maternity leave but as they are all SAHMs, they don't have any need to know any childminders.
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contact your local County Childcare Committee, they have lists of all childminders who are notified to them/registered with HSE.
HTH
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www.childminding.ie - they're the National Childminding Association and have childminders registered with them and offer a 'matching service' for parents and childminders.
Lami
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just be aware in this case, not all childminders who are members of childminding ireland will be on the "matching service".
are you enjoying the childminding Lami, I remember you posting about starting. hope its going well
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That's brilliant. Thanks girls.
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Sorry Snug, you're right - you let them know if you want to be 'matched'. Should have said that! All is going great, thanks a mill. I have a lovely brother and sister (3.5 yrs and 14 months) and they're all getting on great. I'm enjoying it too and although I'm tired in the evening it's a really nice tired not a stressful one! Last night DS2 was up from 1am til 4am and I still was much more able for my work today than I would have been in the office.
Lami
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pooh bear is definitely not awake between 1-4!!! what is the story??????? DD is finally starting to get the hang of the pooh bear thing and gets really excited, but still the odd waking! thanks for the tip, you would be a great childminder to have!!!

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