By Aphrill Verly Espinosa
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what if your village is 6,670 miles away? Your parents, relatives and closest friends whom you can rely on for childcare are all in the Philippines? How will you find a way to make it work?
I say, build your own village.
Raising a family in the UK is not as easy as it is in the Philippines. Finding someone or a place to look after your child/ren so that you can still earn reasonably well can be quite overwhelming and expensive. However, there are various options to choose from so you can still continue working and keep a positive relationship with your kid/s.
1. Flexible working.
It is a type of working pattern that allows an employee to choose the working hours that suit the family's needs. It is your right to request for flexible working patterns after maternity leave.
You and your manager can arrange the working pattern that you want whilst ensuring that departmental needs are met. Most households have fixed working patterns so the parents or partners can share childcare. Some do fixed nights or long days regularly or other just work over the weekends.
2. A little bit of help from friends.
You can share childcare within a group of friends. School runs can be shared between mums and dads and can be more convenient if the children go to the same school.
You can also benefit from friends offering to look after your children for a few hours if you need to do some work related activities such as attending a
3. Lolo and Lola/ Auntie and uncle.
I know for a fact that our parents and siblings can provide tremendous help to take the pressure from our busy schedules. You are very lucky if you have relatives here in the UK living nearby.
Otherwise, you can invite them on a visitor visa which is valid for six months. Aside from their chance to tour the beautiful UK and spend quality time together, lolo, lola, tito or tita can help look after the kids while you work. However, be mindful of how often parents/siblings come including their length of stay as they may be denied re-entry or another visa to the UK.
4. Funded childcare.
The UK government provides help with childcare costs to some extent. Depending on your eligibility, you can claim Funded early education (FEET) for 2 years old. Most families here in the UK can avail 15-30 hours free childcare for 3-4 years old.
Your eligibility to claim will all depend on your employment and family circumstances. You need to use an approved childcare provider whether you choose a nursery, registered childminder, a club, a nursery class in a school, play scheme or a home care worker working for a certified agency. It is also important to apply on time for a placement so you won't miss a slot on your preferred nursery or pre-school. For further information go to https://www.gov.uk/get-childcare
5. Other Means of child care.
If you or your partner is not eligible or merely needing extra hours of childcare, some parents shell out money for this service.
There are plenty of options from day nurseries, nannies, childminders, and children's centres. There are also playgroups, holiday clubs, au pair, breakfast and after school clubs.
Although you need to pay for the childcare service you choose, the government offers Tax Free Childcare to help with the costs. This means you do not have to pay tax on your childcare fees. For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/browse/childcare-parenting/childcare.
Indeed, one of the many challenges of being a parent is looking for the right childcare provider. Finding people whom you can entrust your children can be tough. You must ensure the provider you've chosen is registered with OFSTED in England or Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) in Wales. Check for reviews, references and ask for recommendations from fellow mums and dads.
Childcare might be daunting in the beginning but believe me, you will be amazed at the wonderful and helpful village you have created.
About the Writer:
Aphrill is a wife and a mother of two. A glass-half full kind of person. She is very organised and results-driven. She is an Oncology nurse who is passionate is exceeding patients' expectations.