London’s hidden gems of flexible childcare

Written by: Michaela Drake

London, undoubtedly one of the best cities in the world. A city that offers apps for 24-hour shopping, eating, exercise, partying- you name it, London can offer it to you round the clock at the touch of a button. Flexibility, accessibility and creativity seem to be at the heart of Londoners. Why is it then that this flexibility hasn’t transpired into the childcare industry? Countless parents have to deal with the struggle of fitting work around childcare and vice versa. If you have to be in work in Hackney by 9am sharp, there’s no way you’re getting to the school gates in Wimbledon for 8:30am without a transportation miracle.


Research by the Family and Childcare Trust found that London has been losing flexible forms of childcare at a higher rate than elsewhere in Britain, with childminder numbers falling by 13% between 2012 and 2014. But why is there this struggle and where are the facilities to bring London childcare up to scratch?


We did a bit of research to see what there is out there to help build personalised, flexible childcare around you.


There is obviously the classic full time/part time nanny option but we think that The Student Nannies have taken a slight twist on the classic to provide a more flexible option for parents. By using students, parents don’t have to have sky-rocketing prices and students have lots of free time so can accommodate busy or irregular schedules, the students all serve as good young role models. Similarly, many sectors and industries provide additional services to help their employees with childcare dilemmas. For example, the Bar Council provide nearby facilities for childcare to accommodate Lawyer parents working long hours. The same goes for many London universities, like LSE. So, it’s well worth a look to see if there is already the network set up in your sector.


This next one is great if you’re in South London, Streatham area to be precise. With the growing globalisation of the world, one skill most of us wish we had is to speak another language. And it’s a well-accepted fact that young minds are like sponges, so teaching another language at a young age is far easier that waiting till you get older. Daniella, the creator of Little Linguists Nursery, worked in a bilingual school and upon choosing a nursery for her little one, wanted somewhere that could utilise and nourish the heightened ability to learn a second or third language at a young age. Similarly, with over 300 languages being spoken throughout schools in London, it emphases the need for the younger generation to become empowered with these skills. Plus, they’re open from 7:30am until 6:30pm, so slightly more accommodating and practical for your morning commute!

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Finally, also south, there is ‘Third Door’ in Putney. This idea started back in 2008 when young Mum, Shazia, wanted a place where she could return to work but also know her child was safe and nearby. The Third door provides an excellent alternative for working parents as it has an office style work space with conference rooms, high speed Wi-Fi and all your typical office facilities. Meanwhile, there’s a great nursery on-site with trained professionals who provide round the clock care. Especially good for freelancers, remote-workers and entrepreneurs, Third Door lets you work the hours that suit you in a professional environment and your kids are on-site so you have that peace of mind that they’re safe and you have the luxury of being in close proximity.


These are just a few examples of innovative and insightful childcare options in London, unfortunately the flexible ones are far and few between. With the growing change in working-parents needs it calls for the government to step up and help accommodate this. Again, the Family and Childcare Trust investigated the childcare provisions of local London authorities and found that 17 out of 33 local authorities have not audited their childcare provisions since 2011. This goes against the 2006 Childcare Act to guarantee authorities make yearly audits to ensure their supply of childcare meets the demands of working parents.


It is the stark reality that more parents are now working ‘atypically’ due to the ease of remote working and the internet. Not just the 9-5 offered by many childcare solutions, but working from home, freelancing, working shifts or late for deadlines.  We need to up our game and ensure children are getting nurturing, high quality, vetted childcare that isn’t at the detriment of their parent’s working careers. There is an ever-growing need for a modern system to enable parents to hire fully-vetted, trusted childcarers at short-notice.


This is an issue we are addressing here at Poppins HQ with the release of our upcoming iOS App. We believe it is important parents are in control of choosing from local vetted childcarers on-demand, and building up a local network of sitters they can rely on for re-booking, whenever the need arises.


We believe there are ways to ensure complete flexibility to allow childcare and careers to coincide peacefully.



Tags: #flexiblechildcare #london #childcare,

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