So I thought I would help parents out there who are looking for solutions, by providing a list of the various options and what I see as the pros and cons of each.
1) Before and After School Clubs
If your school offers before and after school clubs, then great - jump in now and secure your place! Having a childcare solution on your own school site makes things much easier, but if it doesn't then contact your local council to get a list of other schools or childcare settings that provide this type of care.
You may struggle to persuade some of your older children to go to these - I know that I would struggle to persuade my son of 8 to go to a nursery after school, but perhaps if his friends were going he wouldn't mind so much.
They often provide before and after school care, which includes dropping your child at school and picking them up. This can be a relatively cheap form of childcare, and works well if there are children you know already with the childminder.
You can get a list of childminders from your local authority, however, I would recommend only going with a childminding who is known to you or who friends can recommend. Always check out the childminder's house, and ask to meet any other people that live there.
3) Au Pair
This is not an easy one, mainly because you need an extra bedroom to house someone, and we would not recommend au pairs for young children. They are however a cheap form of childcare, and often do household chores and babysitting thrown in as well. More information on au pairs.
This is the higher end of the market in terms of cost, but a nanny is probably the best solution.
A nanny will drop off and collect your child, take them home, do homework, cook their tea and generally take care of them until you get back from work. That is a huge relief for mums who do not work conventional hours. And coming home to find tea and homework done, uniform and book bags ready for tomorrow, and happy and clean kids in bed is a total bonus. I speak from experience.
The problem is trying to find a nanny who can do this, and also give you the care in the school holidays. You may therefore consider taking on a nanny with her own child, as there are a lot of nannies out there looking for work that fits with them having their own child, plus their salaries are lower than a nanny without her own child.
Or you may consider getting together with another family and sharing a nanny.
For more information on this, talk to your local Tinies nanny agency.
You may also be interested in last minute nannies, nurseries and childminders with Emergency Childcare.
We live in hope of more childcare choices for working parents, that are affordable or subsidised, but until we are out of recession, and the Government decides to do something about it, we are left to sort out the problem of before and after school ourselves.
Amanda Coxen, Working Mum and Tinies Director