Childcare is always something that creates stressful decisions for parents. Parents beat themselves up about the work/life balance constantly and despair at the cost of childcare in general.
Over the years we’ve used a combination of nursery and playgroup for all the children. At some point all of them have been to nursery and two of them have been to playgroup.
When we were using a nursery it always felt like a massive expense every month, but there was no alternative. In order to work, we had to use a nursery. It was always an odd feeling for me because I was quite close to lots of the nursery staff and I always felt they were grossly underpaid for what they did and deserved more, but then it seemed like such a huge expense at the end of the month. There’s no easy answer it seems.
For the last three years at least one of the children has been attending a local playgroup for a few hours a week. It’s not much time to work, by the time I’ve done all the running around, helped out at the playgroup, and so on – but it’s better than nothing.
It’s a lovely playgroup which both the little boys have thoroughly enjoyed attending. It’s has contributed to their development, social skills and they’ve made some wonderful friendships.
The last few months however has seen tons of other local playgroups closing, so we have all been working hard at our playgroup to ensure that doesn’t happen. Playgroups seem to be closing left, right and centre and it’s upsetting for staff, children and their parents. The reason for this closure is a lack of funds, one playgroup had their rent increased and simply couldn’t afford to continue, and others just couldn’t keep going any longer on fresh air.
It feels as though playgroups are disappearing in our area anyway, and yet the need for them is high. What’s your experience? Are the playgroups in your area struggling too? Playgroups are charities, they don’t receive any official funding and they try to keep prices as low as they can so as many families can send their children as possible.
As parents we are all trying our best with regular fundraising events, but people get tired of you asking for things at some point. Whilst we have had amazing support from the community, local businesses and many parents along the way, there will always be some people who want to drop the children off, pick them up and nothing more. The bottom line seems to be though – get involved and help if you don’t want another closure!
For now, we’ll keep going, keep trying new things and coming up with new ideas because early education matters.
We’d love to know what your experience is in a comment below.
I manage a local playgroup myself, it is really hard, and the parent support is ever decreasing, however as a parent I am conscious I have very little time to help and support the primary school my children attend so I do it see from both sides. In most houses both parents are working more hours to survive and things like playgroups that relied upon stay at home mum’s to help keep going are one area that is affected by this.
We have moved to offer more childcare alongside the education hours we offer to supplement and boost our income and sustain the playgroup as childcare attracts more custom than education based learning alone.
Thanks for your comment. it is very difficult as you clearly appreciate from first hand experience.
There are actually very few ‘stay at home’ mums within our playgroup. Generally the playgroup is used by parents/mums who work part time and playgroup fits around their needs OR, increasingly mums with their own businesses who need a few hours a week designated work time.