I HAVE two small children under three years of age. I've recently returned to work after maternity leave.
My eldest has been with a childminder since he was one and has been well looked after. I didn't want to send him to a creche and opted for a childminder as I wanted a more homely environment.
However, it has not been without compromise; for example, he watches far more television than I am comfortable with.
While this is a real issue for us, I find it hard to discuss it with the childminder.
I now have my baby with the same childminder and my eldest is in playschool part-time (and loves it) and at the childminder the rest of the time.
I am still conflicted on which is best and am now considering putting both kids into the creche.
Do you have any advice on which might be best for the kids?
WHEN we have to rely on other people to mind our children it is a constant, nagging worry for most parents. We think about the quality of the care they are receiving and hope they are happy and looked after properly.
You sound like you have a small touch of 'the grass is always greener' creeping into your thinking about the kind of care your children are getting.
While there are very many positives about the care children can receive in a creche, it is almost always in a larger group environment. It is rare the "homely environment" you hope for, for your children, can be provided in a crèche.
As the recent scandals about the care provided in some creches and childcare facilities have shown, the legislation and standards do not guarantee quality of care in creches either. However, the same potential for poorer quality exists with childminders too.
So, to make your decision, I think you need to consider several key factors:
* How happy are you with the physical environment of your childminder's home?
* How happy are you with the numbers and mix of children she minds in addition to your two?
* How happy are you with the quality of the food your children are served by the childminder?
* Do the children get out and about in the fresh air regularly?
* Has your baby settled well into the childminder's home too?
* Does your childminder seem warm and nurturing towards your children?
* Do they appear to be safe and secure in their care?
* Do the children seem happy and comfortable when you pick them up?
* Is the amount of TV watching the only significant issue you have with the childminder?
If the answer to most of these questions is that yes they are generally happy, loved, well cared for and settled then I don't think you should consider moving them.
Your return to work has already been a significant transition for your baby and there seems little point in creating further change and disruption for him or her.
It sounds to me like the only thing you need to address is the amount of TV that the childminder allows in her home. I am not sure why you are so reluctant to raise the issue.
Don't forget that, essentially, you are a consumer of a service and so you can legitimately ask for the kind of service that you desire. If you don't want your children to be watching TV at all then I think it is okay to explain that.
Bring up the issue by talking about your beliefs regarding TV viewing for children, rather than by criticising what the childminder currently does.
Be clear about your rationale for why you don't want your children to be exposed to too much, or any, television.
Then listen to what the childminder thinks. It may be that she doesn't see any potential danger or difficulty for the children. It may be that having the TV on is just habit for her. It may be her only way of getting a little bit of down time in the day.
You may find it is easy to come to a compromise, that you are actually satisfied with, as long as you don't approach things aggressively or in a blaming way.
If you can't reach that compromise then you need to decide if the TV issue is a "deal-breaker" for you. If it isn't a critical issue, or if there was some resolution to it, that suited you, then it seems to me that your children are best off staying put.