When you leave work for your maternity leave the prospect of returning to work and finding childcare seems like an issue that you wont have to address for a long while but before you realise it the time is fast approaching where you are having to make decisions about the care of your child for your return to work.

There are several options to chose from now all of which have their various pros and cons. The options include: nurseries, childminders and nannies.

The positives of nurseries include the fact that there are several members of staff looking after your child. This then means if one is sick you don’t have to worry, the nursery (usually) has enough staff to cover sickness and so you don’t have to then take time off work- something which you would have to take as annual leave in most businesses. Also, the extra members of staff mean that your child has a variety of adults in their day to day life which can all have positive effects upon them with their varying skills rubbing off. Also in nurseries, staff are trained well- usually courses which last up to two years or more. This then provides you with a good level of reassurance that staff are knowledgeable and well educated within the field of childcare. Other pros of chosing a nursery include the environment is rather like school, your child will get used to being in this environment surrounded by lots of other children and so the step from nursery to school will be less daunting. Nurseries also have to Offsted reports which you are able to see so you can see how well the nursery has faired for cleanliness, education and healthy eating.

Negatives of nurseries tend to be the fact that you may not be happy with the fact that there are so many other children around whilst your child is of nursery age and not school age you may prefer your child to have smaller groups whilst being looked after. Also, nurseries have so many different achievements they have to work towards that maybe their focus may not be what you would expect- they may be so careful to follow the government guidelines that some common sense parenting issues may be overlooked.

The positives of having a childminder may outweigh that of a nursery in some senses but then they do bring up their own negatives too. Positives of a childminder include the fact that usually they are flexible, the childminder has less children to care for and so can mould their days around your working day- usually. They will get to know your child well as they have less tables and guidelines to aim for and can really focus on your child. You may also prefer to have your baby be looked after in a more of a home from home environment whilst at this young age.

However, as well as positives there are negatives to consider. Childminders are usually minimally qualified. All child minders have to be registered and have passed an exam but this exam is a very short course lasting usually about 8 weeks which is not very long at all for them to then be having care of children. They are also a one-man band so if your childminder is sick then you have to arrange childcare cover yourself unlike with a nursery.

Costs are also issues, some nurseries can charge extensive amounts compared to childminders, however, nursery staff are better qualified so it’s a case of trading one off for the other.

As for aupairs, or nannies, these are individual carers who care for your child on a one-on-one basis. They do not have to be qualified or even registered and so you have to be careful when appointing one. This can be a great way to gain a family friend and a close tie to your child ensuring that they have this one on one attention which is really the best you can get but then you do take away the socialising element and the variety with childminders and nurseries can offer. As well as this au pairs are usually a lot more expensive too.

There are so many different positives and negatives that come with both but the most important thing to remember is that your child does need to learn to be independent from you so when that day comes and you do have to leave your child in the care of someone else you have to say goodbye to your child and remember that you’re doing the best you can.