Day by day I hear of another Childminder leaving and it really, really saddens me. Why is it always the best ones? I’ve seen this before when I worked in a law firm. The job did get less and less enjoyable but for me, it was because I wanted to be home with my own baby. And the older he got the more I knew I was missing out on. Don’t get me wrong, my boss was great and I was blazing the trail I guess with working from home as much as my work could allow but I found I became more and more stressed when my son started school. This meant I began spending more time at the office and I’d worry about picking him up on time. How would he feel being the only kid left in the yard at home time, like those other poor kids I saw? To have to be taken to the office so admin could call to find out where I was. Worry about whether he’d have an asthma attack at school and staff wouldn’t know what to do. Remember that poor little boy who was “disrupting” his class by coughing all day? He was sent into the corridor and remained unsupervised. He was having an asthma attack. Nobody treated him and nobody called an ambulance. He died.
Then my son broke his fingers one day at school. It was an extremely windy day and the heavy entrance door wasn’t secured back. Nor was there a member of staff on the door. The kids were free to open and close the door themselves. My son held the door open to let his friend through and a gust blew the door shut onto his hand. This was as he was going into school on the morning, about 2 minutes after I dropped him off. Nobody called me till lunch time. I dropped what I was doing and went to collect him. His fingers were swollen and black and all he had on was a wet paper towel around his hand. I was heartbroken.
Then I put my son in a council run summer play group. Paid for the full 4 weeks upfront, thinking he’d love it and he hated it. Turns out that his little friend was being bullied by much older kids and when they asked for help from the playworkers, nobody intervened. My son was challenging older bullies without any adult support whatsoever. This was corroborated with other parents. What to do then in school holidays while I’m at work?
Not long after this, my law firm was asking for people to volunteer for redundancy and I jumped at the chance. I did used to love my job but I loved my son more and childminding would solve all my problems. Of course the partners thought I was crazy and perhaps it was a bit. And yes our family finances took a hit and it meant no more flashy holidays or fancy cars but it was still worth it. All the ones who grumbled all day long about how rubbish it was working there are still there now, 15 years on, still grumbling. In the meantime, I’ve done okay for myself and we’ve all survived the lean times. Childminding might not be everyone’s first career choice but when it enables us to be the parents we want to be to our own children, and to be a significant part of other children’s lives, then it’s an absolute no-brainer.
So please guys, think about why you took this job. How it fits around your kids. How you’re no longer sitting in queues of traffic on the motorway or hunting for car parking spaces. How you’re always available to take your kids to the dentist and optician. How you can paint and play footie after school. How there’s no more pricey lunches or posh corporate suits to buy. Let that sink in for a few minutes. There. Panic over. Be one of the good ones who stays.