As the world adapts following the impact of COVID-19 childcare for children under five will also need to change. I don’t mean all the practical things like social distancing, infection control and better control of traffic in and out of nurseries – that goes without saying. I mean meeting the needs of families as the world of work takes on a new dimension.
Millions of parents have been working from home in recent months. Their employers have made a rapid change to make it possible for more people to work remotely, and it’s likely that many of them will want to see this continue after the pandemic.
Could this be the end of the 9-5? There is much talk of ‘the new normal’ which will see more parents working flexibly. And this will inevitably have an impact on childcare.
As the owner of a nursery that has remained open for key workers during the crisis, I have witnessed the changing needs of families, and in the process of reopening I have also received many requests for more flexible childcare.
Therefore, The Wendy House Day Nursery has put in place a range of services and flexible childcare options that we hope will suit all families, no matter how their working patterns evolve in the months ahead.
As employers work out how much they can save on property costs by encouraging people to work from home and people become excited about better work/life balance they will want to know that their child care provider can support them as they make the change.
Of course, it’s not just about families who choose home working, we have learned during the pandemic just how important it is to support those parents who work shifts or are on call, because they support critical services.
My heart was warmed by a comment from a parent who is a doctor, who has relied upon The Wendy House throughout the crisis. She said, “As a doctor in a busy practice I needed to go to work during lockdown feeling my child was in safe hands. I needed peace of mind and The Wendy House gave me that when it mattered most. Children need consistency and routine and I am very grateful to the lovely staff who continued to come to work every day to support key workers.”
As well as core hours we also offer 7am opening until 7pm (even later if needed), term-time only places, holiday clubs and with the option to add hours on as needed. We are offering these services to existing and new families, to ease some of the worry and frustration of families who feel they don’t know where to turn and need some certainty in what is already a challenging time. I believe the childcare industry must step up and support families as they adapt.
As children return to nursery or school in the months ahead, we will all be adapting to a new rhythm of life. I am confident that I have put in place all the right measures to protect families to the best of our ability. My staff are excited to welcome the children back and to start once again on their learning journeys – we have missed them so much!
Although this has been a challenging time and will continue to be so for many months, I feel proud of what we have done during the peak of the crisis and I feel more ready than ever to support the ‘new normal’ for families, whatever it brings.