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Least worst split childcare option

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#1 panda eyes

Posted 05 January 2018 - 07:44 AM

I am pregnant with #3 and so next year will have two in daycare and one in ooshc. I live in Sydney's inner west and so need to be putting the baby down on lists now.

While there's clearly still time to nut out the details, I'm not sure of what our best combination of care options will be. Full time daycare will be a hit to the budget we can't afford. We only work 35 hour weeks, so I'm hoping we'll both be allowed to work 4 X 8 hour days in the office and a 3 hour day from home so that we only need 3 days of care, but still have time on the home day to legitimately put in the 3 hours of work. If that's not allowed, we may be able to drop to 32 hours each over 4 days which financially is still a hit, but at least we have would be minimising daycare costs and have a day each at home!

Realistically though, DH has been denied flexible working conditions twice in the last 2 years, including a request to work his hours over a 9 day fortnight. His HR said that it was a "fatigue risk" to be working 7.75 hour days plus a 30 minute lunch break. After we picked ourselves up off the floor laughing we tried to take it up with FWA but they weren't interested as he was a NSW gov employee and so apparently the national standards didn't apply. Now we've been burned I'm not game to count on any of the above, perfectly reasonable, situations working out!

Other possible options are:

Having to both work full time with a 3 day daycare/2 day au pair split

Managing to have one parent home one day per week, whether it's the same person or we get approved for 9 day fortnights etc. However, our daycare does not allow 4 days a week. You have to choose 2,3 or 5, so realistically we would need to do 3 days at current daycare and 1 day at a different daycare. I know that's not ideal, but getting 4 days at a new daycare for two kids isn't guaranteed, and even if we did there's no way to know if we'll be as happy with it as our current centre.

My daughter will be 3.5 and is a confident child so would cope with either a day at a second centre or time with an au pair. I'm not sure what would be best for the baby though, who will be 8 months when this starts. One day at a second centre could be disruptive, but it would be followed by 3 days with parents. 3 days at a centre followed by 2 with an au pair might not be ideal either, as she will be young and inexperienced and change every 6 months. At the same time though, she would be seen around the house at other times during the week so maybe it wouldn't be so bad?

Ideally I don't really want someone living with us and DH wont be thrilled, but we do have the space for an au pair and can't afford a nanny so it's an option with considering.

So, TLDR, what's the least worse split care option do you think? 3 days at a centre we know and like, one day at a second centre and then parent care, or 3 days at a centre followed by 2 with an au pair?

#2 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 05 January 2018 - 07:53 AM

I thought au pairs only did full time care? Don't they live with you full time? Or do you mean a nanny?

If you have an au pair living with you obviously that's the cheapest option for full time care 5 days a week.

#3 miriams

Posted 05 January 2018 - 07:56 AM

Au pairs are not supposed to do full time sole care, that's a nanny. Obviously people do end up doing it but they are not supposed to and usually have a high burnout rate. However OP, I think two days with an aupair sounds reasonable for both you and her.

#4 Hands Up

Posted 05 January 2018 - 07:59 AM

I’d avoid the second centre if at all possible. I think it’s very confusing, especially for the baby. Too many different career relationships.

Au Pairs can also be unreliable. A friend of mine has had a bad run this year (four!) including one who decided a week in that she’d made a terrible mistake and was dreadfully homesick, and another whose father was diagnosed with cancer two months in (obviously terrible and unavoidable) and another who was like having another child in the house. Most people I know who use au pairs have them as another pair of hands with some regular babysitting, as opposed to having the children for 8-10 hours. I also know friends who have had brilliant au Pairs but a skype interview won’t tell you everything!

Au Pairs are also not THAT cheap once you add in the extra food and bills. Could one of you go part time? It might not be that big a difference in bills? Unfortunately most organisations are against compressed work weeks as they want you to do the longer days for free! Sucks but it is what it is.

#5 *BellBird*

Posted 05 January 2018 - 08:00 AM

Oh - the seemingly never-ending work/daycare juggle! I’d ask for 3 days for both kids at daycare,& then get a nanny/aupair for the 1 or 2 days that you or DH can’t cover depending on the flexibility your work permits. Even if your DH ended up having to those 3 hrs  in the office rather than at home, you might only need a nanny for a half day which would be better financially. Good luck.

#6 JBH

Posted 05 January 2018 - 08:01 AM

OP, have you run the numbers looking at the changes to childcare rebates coming into effect from 1 July?

#7 Kafkaesque

Posted 05 January 2018 - 08:01 AM

I would look for a centre that will provide the care you need. Being as it’s a long way out there is a chance you would get it. I did two different care options with my at the time 7 month old. It was a disaster she didn’t cope. Frankly I would be p*ssed with a centre that doesn’t actually accommodate the needs of family’s. How ridiculous is not being able to do 4 days!

#8 FuzzyChocolateToes

Posted 05 January 2018 - 08:03 AM

It sounds pretty complicated. Is taking extra leave an option? Either extending your parental leave or long service leave? Then using full time care for part of the year?

Otherwise I think I'd be looking for one centre that could accommodate you or a family day care for the extra day.

#9 ~LemonMyrtle~

Posted 05 January 2018 - 08:04 AM

View Postmiriams, on 05 January 2018 - 07:56 AM, said:

Au pairs are not supposed to do full time sole care, that's a nanny. Obviously people do end up doing it but they are not supposed to and usually have a high burnout rate. However OP, I think two days with an aupair sounds reasonable for both you and her.

Ah, ok.

I wouldn't want someone living with me just to cover 2 days of child care. Plus leaving a baby with an au pair all day is a big ask. Also, I hear au pairs change frequently which can be disruptive. My neighbour went through three in 6 months before giving up on the idea. She just couldn't get the right fit.

I'd do 3 days at one centre and then a nanny for an additional day. A nanny can be about the cost of 2 kids in child care, plus one in after school care (nanny can pick them up instead) especially if you're high income earners due to the new childcare rebates.

#10 jdl

Posted 05 January 2018 - 08:09 AM

Compressed work week would have been the perfect answer to our problems. I feel your pain. As a Govt legal employee I already work 7.75 hours a day with a half hour lunch break  - five days a week! No one cares if I am tired!

Oddly enough it is my husband, who is a software engineer, whose workplaces have been completely flexible and workable - work from home, compressed hours, flexible you name it - no quibbling.  It was bewildering looking at it from my fixed perspective as a government employee - because of course, he still got the work done (as we all know anyone would).

That doesn't really help you and I wish you luck. I had not much luck with aupair/ nanny arrangements in my daughter's first two years (I could not get a child care spot despite being on list since 3 months pg). I had an au pair from France who woke up one day and saw a large huntsman on the wall and went into a complete panic such that she had to leave, and I had a nanny who stole things from me and the local shops.  This may have influenced my decision to have only one child.  Good luck OP.

#11 Mollyksy

Posted 05 January 2018 - 08:24 AM

No additional ideas OP but as a now ex govt employee I'm so cranky on your DHs behalf. I've worked 12 hour days to get tasks done, nobody was concerned I was tired! Isn't the flex system of max 6 flex days in a 12 week period basically a 9 week fn? I've had many a run in with HR as employee and manager.

I worked where my immediate management was fine with ad hoc work at home (meet a plumber etc). Then the director announced they didnt like work from home as a concept. So no work from home. Except of course on your day off when "could you please check your email and do x".

I too have noticed despite the talk, private sector can sometimes really lead the way with flexibility.

All the best OP. If you do need to mix centres, maybe for the older children, leave thr baby fulltime? But my solution was to go part time myself which perpetuates all the stereotypes but I couldn't fight for feminism and eat at the same time those few years so we do what we need to do.

#12 Zippypeaks

Posted 05 January 2018 - 08:39 AM

Could you have a quiet word to Daycare and ask for 4 days as an exception? Two children (maybe a 3rd if your oldestest attended too?) brings in good business for them. Otherwise, maybe see if they know of any casuals/students that might be able to help you out one day a week at home?

#13 lizzzard

Posted 05 January 2018 - 09:13 AM

We opted for a nanny one day a week versus a second Centre, and found that day (a Friday) really handy as a 'rest' for us all - the kids to just stay at home, and us because there was no morning rush.

#14 sarahec

Posted 05 January 2018 - 09:22 AM

Two days at one centre two days at another? Or just put both in full time and both you and husband work full time?

#15 No Drama Please

Posted 05 January 2018 - 09:45 AM

View PostKafkaesque, on 05 January 2018 - 08:01 AM, said:

I would look for a centre that will provide the care you need. Being as it’s a long way out there is a chance you would get it. I did two different care options with my at the time 7 month old. It was a disaster she didn’t cope. Frankly I would be p*ssed with a centre that doesn’t actually accommodate the needs of family’s. How ridiculous is not being able to do 4 days!
Yeah, like no way would I be looking at centre's that don't let you book the days you need.  It's hard enough juggling things around without extra special requirements like they don't let you do four days.  What's their reasoning about that?  

Have you checked out Careforkids website?  They show you the days they have space available and let you pick them.  We live inner west as well at a time where there was absolutely no care in the inner west for the first few years and we ended up putting them in care in the CBD.  

It worked out pretty well actually, open from 7am to 7pm and could all go in together and home together.  We actually used to drive and park in Chinatown ($9 a day earlybird parking) and then would get dinner in Chinatown after work then drive home, so was bit easier.

Otherwise I can PM you our zero drama inner west daycare where you could just put in as many or as few days as you want :)

#16 panda eyes

Posted 05 January 2018 - 10:37 AM

Thank you all for your feedback so far. To answer a couple of questions:

There's no way either of us can afford to drop to below 32 hours a week (or one full time and the other slightly reduced). While we're relatively high income earners, we bought a house recently and the market for the property we sold to fund it dropped significantly in the two weeks between us signing the contract on the new place and putting ours on the market. No-one could believe it as prices had been great for years, but it is what it is. As a result we've got a much larger mortgage than we anticipated and fell pregnant at the exact same time that this all went down so financially we're not as comfortable as we'd expected. However we do have a big house with plenty of room for 3 kids so we're very lucky, and just need to hold it together for a few years until everyone is in school!

I will ask daycare about the 4 days, but I know people have tried to organise a share with another family in the past and had it declined. The centre is good, but they're not particularly working parent friendly. Their rationale is that it's better for the kids to have the same children with them every day, so all the 3 day kids go Mon-Wed and the 2 day go Thurs-Fri etc. The waiting list for general places is 2-3 years long, so they can basically make whatever demands they like! However it's walking distance from the new house which is amazing, and DD has been there since 5 months old and is happy. The idea of moving is a bit nerve wracking.

There is a new Montessori near us, but we would have to drive there and they have 90 kids so while I imagine we'd probably get a 4 day place for both, not being able to walk to drop off and then on to the station isn't ideal. It's also pricier, so that would max out the rebate and possibly complicate things.

This is taking into account the new child care subsidy as we'll be slightly better off with the new 10k limit.

I'll talk to our current centre when it goes back next week, but don't feel particularly hopeful which is such a shame, because I'd be happy to really fight for compressed hours over 9 days, even if it meant maxing out our flex and taking the odd annual leave day where necessary.

I'm lucky that my mat leave policy is fairly decent, so they'd be hard pressed to deny me a 32 hour week for the first year back in my current role/ full hours over a 9 day fortnight. DHs work is so annoying though because his immediate manager was really supportive last time, but HR wouldn't budge. With both of us working 32 hours with 3 days of care we're $250 better off than working standard days with full-time daycare. 9 day fortnights with 4 days of centre care would give us $350 more a fortnight than working standard days with full-time daycare. That's enough money to make a difference to the budget!

#17 bondgal

Posted 05 January 2018 - 11:56 AM

Hi OP, have you explored the nanny one day per week option. Yes it is expensive but as a PP mentions it can reduce your stress! If you can use one mid week, it gives the kids a little break in a busy week (I say this from the place if experience as I work FT). On nanny day my DH and I can work longer hours. We leave as soon as the nanny arrives and she dresses them and f Ed’s then breakfast. Makes school lunch for my oldest and walks her to school, then drives my son to gymnastics and picks up a few things from the supermarket. In the afternoon she does the school pickup and also takes the kids to swimming lessons. When I arrive home the kids are bathed and in PJ’s. She has also repeatedly offered to make dinner. If having a nanny allows you to work longer hours on one day and avoid after school and daycare fees, it’s certainly worth considering! Hope this might help.

#18 Crazyhouseholdof6

Posted 05 January 2018 - 04:06 PM

Are your calculations taking into account the new childcare changes starting 1 July 2018? The gvt says it should be more affordable for most families... a new childcare subsidy is replacing the CCB and CCR.. if you haven’t already use the calculator to see if it will be as bad as you think financially.

Edited by Crazyhouseholdof6, 05 January 2018 - 04:07 PM.

#19 nup

Posted 05 January 2018 - 05:29 PM

Have you discussed a nanny share with any of your social circle? Try Mum's the word Australia Facebook page. There are semi regular calls for similar. Find someone who can share the cost of the extra day

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