One of the unexpected difficulties for me of becoming a mum was grappling with childcare. Finding a babysitter sounds easy before you’ve got kids – but once I had William, I wanted to find not just any babysitter, but the perfect one for him. After all, we’re handing over our children to people who at first, will be strangers, so it’s absolutely critical that you trust them. If I didn’t trust the person looking after him, I wouldn’t be able to relax at all! Finding the right fit is where www.childcare.co.uk comes in.
Childcare has over 2 million users across the UK, so they must be doing something right – but I wanted to get hands on, explore the site and find out just how easy it would be for me to find childcare that I’m happy with for William, my 29 month old son. William has a speech delay and can be difficult to communicate with, so I need to trust he’s being left with someone experienced and patient.
Finding Childcare with www.childcare.co.uk
The website loads very quickly and has an easy to use layout. On the very front page you can simply select what you’re looking for (babysitter, childminder, nanny, au pair, private midwife, private tutor, doula, after school services – just to name a few options) and input your postcode so they can offer you local results.
It’s my mum’s birthday next month and I’m planning on taking her out to Miller and Carter, a steakhouse that we have taken William to before, but not with great success. For a relaxing evening, I want an experienced babysitter who can come to my own home, letting us take our time with our meal and not having to rush to eat at 5pm whilst a two year old yells about peppa pig, so I search for babysitter and input my postcode.
I’m offered some popular searches that can help narrow the list down, like evening babysitters, weekend babysitters, those with childcare qualifications, newborn experience, special needs experience, overnight babysitters etc. and a list of babysitters that meet my basic search so far. The listings are comprehensive and there are a lot of options with a total of 573 results, so I can see how narrowing the search down will help in cities like mine. I narrow it down to evening babysitters and have a browse.
Choosing your childcarer
At the top of the search results are those which are featured and it clearly shows how many reviews and what star rating someone has received. This is quite important to me as it verifies that other parents have been happy with their service.
I pick a profile and am immediately impressed. She has a whole host of childcare qualifications including first aid qualifications, is CIW registered, DBS checked and is a full time professional childminder in her own home, who also offers additional evening babysitting in your home. She’s a non smoker, married, has a driving license and has four children of her own. Her profile is so in depth I really feel like I know her already! An easily readable table lists her availability – yes, she’s available for friday night babysitting! – and her prices are very reasonable too.
She has 11 reviews and they are all detailed reviews with lots of information and rated five star across the board, which gives me a real confidence that her listing is accurate.
I’m also told that the listing was last updated in January, and that she last logged in today and has a response time of 4 hours, which lets you know that the childminder you’re looking at is still active so you don’t waste your time on a very old profile.
I’m really impressed by how in depth the profile system is and after browsing through several different listings, I easily find several options that I feel happy contacting for babysitting availability.
Contacting your childcarer
I’m given plenty of options for ways of contacting my chosen babysitter, including direct email, home telephone, mobile telephone and messaging through the childcare.co.uk system. This allows me to pick what’s most convenient for me.
You do need to register at this point if you want to contact someone. I like that you can search through and read all the profiles without registering. If you’re just browsing or aren’t sure if you’ll find anyone, you haven’t had to give any personal details or login. Now that you do want to continue, you need to either log in by connecting facebook, or register with an email address. The registration form is very simple, taking just a few minutes and you’re set up.
Free membership – completely free.
Gold membership – £24.99/year
You can read more about gold membership here, but the crux of it is someone needs to be a gold member to exchange details. If you are a gold member, then you can contact anyone on the site or be contacted by anyone. If the childcarer you are contacting is a gold member, you can contact them with a free membership. The profile I’ve shown in these screenshots was a gold member, which means I did not have to pay anything to access her email and phone numbers. I imagine that a lot of professional childminders will upgrade their membership so new clients can contact them free of charge, but I think £24.99 is a relatively low cost for a years access to such an extensive database, even if your chosen childminder is not a gold member.
Gold childcare providers are listed at the top of the search results and clearly identifiable by being featured, so you can very easily see who is free to contact.
Extra benefits of gold membership
If you do go gold you also get
- access to over 200 online training courses and webinars including food hygiene, first aid, child protection, online safety and many more
- 12 month digital tastecard offering 50% off or 2 for 1 at over 6000 restaurants
- 12 months tastecard+ membership giving 40% off nationwide cinema as well as discounts up to 70% at some attractions, theatre and hotels
- 12 months Kids Pass which offers discounts at attractions, restaurants, cinema, bowling and more
- Creative Steps Magazine worth £16 / year
- 500 downloadable guides and activity resources
- free legal advice on childcare and employment law (30 minutes)
- and more, all listed here!
Whilst I do think that the most benefit is to those offering childcare services so that new clients can contact them, the whole package really is excellent value for money. I’m a real advocate of self-study and furthering yourself so I’d definitely use the online training courses even as a parent.
But as it happens, there are several babysitting options within 5 miles, including the profile I’d already picked out who are gold members, meaning it ended up completely free for me to contact my chosen babysitter.
Providing Childcare Services
If you want to provide services, whether it’s just occasional babysitting, tutoring sessions or as a full time childminder, then you can add a profile bursting with detail to attract new clients. This isn’t something I’ve personally explored as I often feel barely equipped to manage my two year old let alone anyone else’s children, but the system looks very comprehensive whilst also being intuitive and easy to use.
Would I recommend www.childcare.co.uk?
Yes, definitely. I would still recommend verifying any credentials that are important to you direct with your childcare provider just as due diligence, but this is a really well built website that loads fast, is easy to use and has a comprehensive database of active childcare providers that are easy to contact. There’s absolutely nothing more that I could want when searching for childcare than is offered here, so having used the website extensively today, I can see why 2 million other people are using it too.
I’ve found a babysitter for my mums birthday meal, taking a weight off my mind, but I also feel confident that I’ll find a wide range of other service providers here in the future.
This is a collaborative post.