Why Now’s The Time To Consider A Childminder

Isabel Mohan of tiney, says more and more people are training to be childminders - and turning to them for their childcare.


by Isabel Mohan |
Updated on

Figuring out thebest childcare option for the most important, special and edibly cute person in your universe is fraught at the best of times. It’s got to be affordable, it’s got to be conveniently located and, above all, the thought of handing over your precious firstborn has got to not fill you with horror (because let’s face it, this is largely an issue for firstborns; second-and-beyond-borns just tend to get dragged along for the ride…).

Since every mother in law and her gobby friend Pat has an opinion on who takes care of your child, you might find yourself doubting your instincts and feeling seriously confused and overwhelmed.

Now, with the small matter of a pandemic to contend with too, there are a whole bunch of new issues to worry about: of course, hygiene and safety have always been important when it comes to childcare, and a few snotty noses are inevitable whatever setting you go for, but Covid has really brought to the forefront the fact that exposing our little ones to dozens of equally snotty noses from different families isn’t always ideal.

At tiney, the startup I work at where we’re reimagining early years education, we’re seeing a big shift in the way people think about childcare. After so many months at home, with more quality family time than we ever could have contemplated (and not-so-quality family time as anyone who’s had to deal with their kid screaming 'IT’S NO FUN WITHOUT MUMMY' during an important strategy meeting can testify), many parents are feeling differently about who they hand their little ones over to.

We’re all hearing a lot about the childcare sector being in huge crisis and it’s true that there are nurseries closing, staff losing jobs and major uncertainty over if and when things will really return to normal. But it’s not all doom and gloom; as ever with childcare, demand far outweighs supply, which means there are opportunities too - this is why we’ve seen an enormous spike in applications to train as tiney home leaders (our modern take on childminders) since lockdown began.

We’re seeing professionals from a variety of industries - teachers, florists, legal secretaries, retail workers, nurses, creatives, to name a few recent examples, as well as hundreds of people already working in childcare - deciding to retrain as childminders, realising that changing children’s lives from the comfort of their own living room, with a professional salary attached, sounds rather nice actually.

And that’s got to be music to the ears of any parent, desperate to find an appealing, affordable solution to their childcare woes after enduring the most challenging parenting period possible. By the end of the year, we’ll have hundreds of new home nurseries popping up, run by the many people currently acing our training programme and who we know have what it takes to become brilliant early years educators.

I’ve tried every childcare option: nursery, nanny share, childminder, snazzy babysitting app, text saying 'Aaargh, Mum, please can you drive down here IMMEDIATELY!'

So, what are the advantages of a small nursery run by a childminder in their home, versus a bigger setting? Well, the obvious one is the fact that your kid gets to form a close bond with one adult (or sometimes two - many childminders work in pairs or have qualified assistants) and mix with the same small group of children every day. Close friendships are formed and much fun is had - it’s much easier logistically for a childminder looking after three or four children to take them out on day trips to the park or the zoo, for instance, than it is for bigger institutions. The blend of ages can be nice too - rather than being sorted into age groups, babies will be learning all the time from toddlers and pre-schoolers, while older kids become more nurturing and less grabby as they help care for their younger peers. It’s like a little family away from home.

And home is the other big draw - after so many months of your little one staring at and/or smearing spaghetti over the same four walls, settling them into a cosy homely setting is likely to feel like much less like a wrench for you and them than taking them somewhere bigger and less familiar.

With many of our jobs changing shape too, there’s often a bit of much-needed flexibility when it comes to days and hours, something that it’s more logistically challenging for bigger businesses to provide.

Then, of course, there’s the Covid factor - while every childcare setting, big or small, is adhering to the same strict government guidelines around health and hygiene, a smaller venue simply exposes them to fewer different germs; it’s basically a natural bubble.

But what about nannies, surely that’s the dream for any frazzled parent? Well, it’s true that there’s nothing more convenient than a perky individual rocking up at your house at the most frantic time of day, quite happy to clean Weetabix out of various orifices before orchestrating a puppet show in four languages while you dash off to work, it’s also not an affordable option for most families. Plus there’s the fact that most nannies are unregulated and don’t have to follow the early years curriculum, whereas childminders and nurseries do.

With a five year old son and a two year old daughter, and having gone from freelance to part-time to full-time since becoming a parent, I’ve tried every childcare option in the book over the past few years (nursery, nanny share, childminder, snazzy babysitting app, text saying 'Aaargh, Mum, please can you drive down here IMMEDIATELY, the kids are sick and I have a really important meeting!'...). I’ve been really lucky with the amazing people I’ve entrusted my kids with in a variety of set-ups and have a huge respect for anyone who gets paid to care for small children all day when lockdown has taught me that I definitely can’t hack it.

Ultimately, when you’ve done your research and seen a few different settings, as well as shoved your fingers in your ears to block out Pat and her opinions, you’ll know which option is right for your child too. And if it happens to be a childminder, be sure to check out tiney

READ MORE: It’s Time To Give People Who Care For Our Children The Respect They Deserve - Because I Know I Couldn’t Do It

READ MORE: The Internet Is Obsessed With A 1,000-Word Job Advertisement For A Nanny That 'Likes River Swimming' And 'Can Do Calisthenics With Kids'


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