Ever since I was a teenager I have known that I wanted to be a midwife, but I also knew I wanted to be a mother.  I thought that I would grow up, have two children, and then complete my training.  Somehow I ended up with five children and wouldn’t have it any other way, however, it did somewhat delay my plans to train and make childcare arrangements a big consideration when deciding whether I could actually complete the course.

As I fell pregnant with my first at 17 I did not have any A-Levels, and this meant that I needed to complete a diploma course before I could even apply to University.  There is no assistance for childcare with the diploma, so I decided that I would study from home and work around my baby’s naps.  After 9 months I completed my diploma with 45 distinction which is the most you can get and after applying and interviewing at 5 Universities I accepted my place.  This is when the panic began because finding childcare for five children is not very easy.

The Midwifery BSc Hons course is funded by the NHS so I am lucky that I don’t have to find the money to pay for my University fees, and they also pay a means tested bursary.  As far of this they will pay a maximum of £895 per month for childcare, but it is essential that the provider is Ofsted Registered.  I had hoped that I might be able to employ my Mum to take care of the children but as she is only 54 and was working at the time, I would have had to pay her because I couldn’t expect her to give up her salary for nothing.  Discovering that I couldn’t claim the childcare element and use it to pay family threw a spanner in the works for me.

I then looked into local nurseries for my 3 year old, as the other four would all be at full time school, and was shocked to discover that a full time place was around £1400 per month.  This was for Sophia alone, and I would then have to pay for breakfast clubs, after school clubs, and holiday care for the other four children.  Andrew has Aspergers syndrome, so although he is 14 I couldn’t leave him to fend for himself and local childminders were loathe to take a 14 year old boy.

When I added in the fact that the midwifery course requires shift work; i.e. early starts and night shifts, I realised these options would never be feasible anyway.  When working on an early shift or a night shift I would need someone willing to start at 6:30am and many childminders were not.  I would also need flexibility that they may not know their hours from one month to the next.  So after considering all of these factors, I realised that my only option would be a nanny.  Live-in Nannies are cheaper because they have free food and board, but we didn’t have the space so we had to look for a live out nanny.

This whole experience was a steep learning curve.  I never realised that nannies charged so much – on average £10 per hour Net.  I also didn’t realise that they were not self employed, and that in order to hire a nanny I would have to become registered as an employer with HMRC, and pay employers National Insurance on top of income tax and employees national insurance.  All in all we pay around £1800 per month for our nanny but she is worth every single penny.  She is like a second mother to the children, if a child is off sick from school then they can stay home and not worry about not having childcare, there is a home cooked meal for them each night, and someone to do their homework with them and bath them ready for bed.

For smaller families, or those working set hours, I am sure that childminders and school clubs work extremely well but for us our nanny is the only way forward.  The children love her and she has become part of the family.

By Vickie and her gorgeous family

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