I have been running a baby & toddler music class for nearly 5 months now, and the time has come for me to find somewhere else for the Baby Bears to be while I am running it. Neither of them are the sitting-still-and-joining-in type, more like the let’s-be-as-disruptive-as-possible type (in a wonderful way, of course). The last time Teddy Bear was at Jumping Beans (the name of my music class – it’s run in a play café called Beans & Barley), he actually managed to crawl as fast as his little limbs would go, all the way through the café, out the doors, down the ramp and onto the pavement before I’d even noticed he’d gone. People were actually running outside after him. How embarrassing. And terrifying. It still makes me shudder. The little Bear nearly crawling straight out into the road. A big, busy road. If that’s not a moment for me to hang my head in shame I don’t know what is!

So, the time has come. Friends have very kindly looked after him and Archie Bear for some weeks, but I can’t expect them to be free every week just so I can go off and work. I asked around for recommendations, you know, on local Facebook sites, other local mums, Google, and had a few options incredibly quickly. A couple of childminders were recommended, and as Teddy Bear is cuddly and clingy at the moment I decided that going to a childminder would be best for him. He would always see the same small group of kids and adults, and that would suit him better than a bigger nursery where I fear he would get lost. He has actually been going to a nursery up the road but not regularly. They work on an ad hoc, flexible childcare basis, which has been incredible. Why don’t more nurseries work like this???? It would solve a lot of self-employed parents’ problems. I can ring up and book him in for any day and any time, so long as they have the space. But, even though I love it there and the staff are great, he needs a smaller, calmer environment.

So, childminder shopping. A couple messaged me directly from Facebook, but I quickly realised that I wouldn’t be happy to leave him with someone who hadn’t been personally recommended, so I politely let those ladies down. One childminder and one nanny I spoke to were already full, so I tried the next one on my list. We’ll call her Nanny C. She came highly recommended, and she has space on the right day at the right time.

We went to meet her and to see her house, and I have to admit, I was pretty apprehensive. It scares me to think of leaving my children with strangers who aren’t attached to a big corporate name, and I didn’t really know what to expect. But you know what? It was great. There were about 5 other kids there, all having a great time, and Nanny C explained they have 3 adults there with the kids too. They were having a morning snack when we arrived and then they scurried off to play outside. Archie Bear and Teddy Bear were completely at ease and before long, both were playing with the toy kitchen while Nanny C showed me the ropes. I actually left the room for a few minutes while we looked around the house and neither of them made a peep! Anyone who knows us well will have raised their eyebrows at that. Teddy Bear is known to get upset if I walk too far away from him in a room at the moment, the little cuddly Bear. Anyway, there was lots of space to play, books, a train table, toys, a huge collection of art supplies, and a sandpit. I could go on and on.

To be perfectly honest, I did have misgivings about the house itself. It’s a council house, and is probably the same as every other council house, low ceilings, tired decor etc. But as I pondered this on our way to a play-date, I wondered whether I was just being a big snob. The house had been clean. There had been everything they needed, everything I would expect, and the kids were happy, safe and having fun.

This evening, Daddy Bear and I googled Nanny C and found she has been a childminder for 22 years, is fully Ofsted registered, and is an incredibly experienced lady. She is just understated and doesn’t brag about it. She doesn’t feel the need to go blabbing about how many portions of fruit and veg they eat each day, or how many qualifications she and her helpers have. She is confident in her ability and experience. She lives in a bit of a dated house, which I should never hold against anyone. In fact, reading that makes me feel a bit sick. How COULD I let something like that affect how I view someone. I am ashamed.

We are booked in with Nanny C, and Jumping Beans will be a calmer, more professional affair than ever once both boys are settled into their new childcare.

Archie Bear starts nursery in a week – but that’s a topic for another time…