What childcare options are out there!?


Here’s a little low down on childcare options available, when thinking and looking for childcare.


An individual person who is responsible for your child’s well being, safety, and supervision. Levels of experience and education will vary. A nanny typically watches your child in your home. No degree, license or experience is required in order to become a Nanny. However some do have training and their own insurance. They would be employed to you so your responsible for paying them, pensions and other expenses related.

Au pair

An Au pair is very similar to a Nanny however Au Pairs come from a foreign country and typically reside in your home. These can be live in or live out and can do further jobs to help you e.g. House work etc. These be worked out between yourselves and angin like a nanny your responsible for paying wages etc.


Childminder are childcare run typically by one individual in their own home. They willoften offer care to several different families with children in different age groups. Follow EYFS and registered with Ofsted, some are trained in childcare some not. However guided now to have some for childcare training and sometimes does alongside running their childminding. These can cater for children birth to up to 12, each minder runs different hours and day and often based around their own family needs. Government help via childcare element of tax credits available to those eligible

Day nurseries

Nurseries usually provide full time care for children from birth to five years. Some may not include infant care and others may include after school programs. These again government by Osfted and work to the EYFS. Quiet often open most weeks of the years and often closed bank holidays. Government help via childcare element of tax credits available to those eligible.


preschools often take children from age 3 to 5years. They are registered with Ofsted and follow the EYFS too. Sometimes ran school times and terms some can be seperate or linked to school or day nursery. (Check out my nursery vers preschool blog too)


Family members can also be another great option for childcare. especially if you live close and are able to help. There not guidelines for these providing help and no fiancial support to parents, although you do not have childcare fees.


*When thinking and looking at childcare options do your research, ask around.

*Know your needs and wishes and your child’s individual personality and needs.

*If looking at registered providers looks at the ofsted reports but also follow your gut feelings and sometimes ofsted inspections only see and get feeling of what’s happening there and then and their judgement.

*See what fiancial help you can get from tax credits, funded places. More found here, https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk website can be temperamental.

*when visiting providers try go during the day often will allow this but have seen others who do not. This will give you a good feeling p, see how they run and other children within the setting.

*Ask questions, they only way you will find out the information you want, not just been told what they want you to know.

*when using paid for childcare know there fee payment plans and dates, so you prepared and works alongside you fiances.


Nursery vers preschool?!


As a childminder and previous working in day nurseries, I often get asked what’s difference between nursery and a preschool?! Should my child be in pre school now they are 3?! Here is my views.

Honestly there is no great difference… Childminders, nurseries and preschool and reception classes, all work from the same frame work the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) this is a statutory framework setting the “standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.”

More about that here http://www.foundationyears.org.uk/eyfs-statutory-framework/

Some nurseries have pre school within them some call the room or class where children ages 3-5yrs the “preschool”. These will often provide the 3year funding for families and additional childcare topped up around it. These can provide care on full day basis e.g. 7.30am til 6pm most weeks of the year.

Some school have “preschools” attached, some of these may only be open school term and school hours. Some like one attached to my children’s school. Use the other school facilities e.g. Dinning hall. Some do not. Some of these school based preschools often help provide further links into the school with he aim to the children attending that school. Some may have qualifies early years teachers and be able to provide a more “education” based learning.

Some preschools are not attached to nurseries or schools, maybe ran from a village hall, and like some attached to schools offer sessions based around school terms and hours.

Childminders are able to offer this 3 year old funding and like nurseries childcare are able to be there to what suits the families and the childminder. These are home based providers, smaller ratios and many will often link with local schools for school runs etc.

However there is no great difference, as mentioned at the start each setting follow the same framework, each settling as child approached 5 all work to “school readiness” Which is referred to under the EYFS as “School readiness is vaguely described in the foundation stage as “Children reaching a good level of development in the prime areas and literacy and mathematics”.

If your child is happy and thriving within the childcare choice you have made, why change?!

Ok yes you may need to change if your current provider does not offer the funding and you wish to acces it, or you can use funded place along side your current provides ion for childcare.

Each setting has it own qualities, pros and cons. How ever ulimitly there is not great difference, it is your choice and your child’s happiness.

There is no different a in frameworks the providers works to until after the child turns 5, (end of the EYFS) then it’s your choice to join them into mainstream educational system or even private or home school your child.

Go with your gut feelings over these issues, do not just follow what other families say and do. You have to find the right fit for you child and your own situation with work etc.

Award Nominations, personal and Business

award nominations


As many of my followers will know I am a member of Bizmums. Each year they hold annual conference and awards and this year I have been nominated within four awards categories, Exceptional service, health and Beauty award, Inspirational mum and Online mum of the year.
I own and run my Businesses in Stone, Staffordshire. With my main business Stephs Childminding services has had a great impact on families accessing her care. For this business she has been placed into two categories, Exceptional service and Online mum of the year.
i set up as a childminding in 2014 due to my own personal situation, where I was needing to find flexible childcare. Since then the demand has grown, due to the way I offer childcare for families who are able to follow their own career passions, knowing that they do not need to worry about shift patterns, needing weekend childcare or needing late finishing.
Here part of the nominations view from Exceptional service. “Her testimonials from parents describe her ethos, providing top quality childcare from very early mornings, school runs, late evenings, overnight and taking the children to ex curriculum activities. No job is too small for Stephanie, if parents call at the last minute she will help . All this whilst following Ofsed, EYFS standards. The way Stephanie has tailored her service, she has allowed parents to go to work in their dreamed profession, offering shift workers flexibility with no hidden costs. Families only pay for the childcare used, which is a great help to them working, enjoy life and securely financing their childcare bills. Stephanie has a strong community spirit and engages in groups and despairs when child facilities close. She came up with the initiative with a friend ‘Stone Parent & Child Group’. It lists all the toddler groups, classes etc around Stone, when they run and all the information needed.”
“I set up knowing I needed childcare to fit around me and not access part time on a full time childcare bill. The demand amazed me I thought only 1 or 2 families would need flexibility but how I was very wrong. I now have 4 regular families and more who access though out the School holidays. The need for flexible childcare is increasing as very few families work a traditional 9-5 job of even close to their work. The way I run my service is totally tailored to each from hours, days and even when and how they can pay, I have worked within childcare for over 10 years and knew it needed to change.” From Steph.
“I am astonished at the nominations, whom I have yet to discover to thank them. I do my business as a passion and never expect to be nominated again for one never mind to be placed within four categories. When I read the statements it brought me to tears as I see myself totally different and just helping out others.”

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Statement from Online mum of the Year nomination “” I love Steph’s posts, such an inspirational to look at on her Facebook page and Instagram. She inspires and helps me with my content, and she doesn’t do that directly! Steph shows me how to have a typical day, and even shows her ups and downs, and how to overcome things. With her childminding posts, are helpful, and she gives me ideas what to do with my own children. Her posts are always different content, and she helps me with a’pick me up’ when in need of one. ”

Winners will be announced on Sunday, October 8th, 2017, at the annual BizMums Conference & Awards at the Manor House in Alsager, Cheshire. The day will bring together 100’s of mums in business from across the region to network, learn and celebrate each other’s achievements of the past 12 months


Find The BizMums Awards Online:
Website: http://www.bizmums.biz/the-bizmums-awards-2017/
Facebook: Facebook.com/bizmums.biz


Bizfund :D


I am a member of Bizmums, which is a social enterprise set out to support females in business to network with their children.

I have been a member for around 4years, I attend to some local meet ups including Stone and Cannock. I have found these meetings and much membership a great way to build relationships, make friends and gain support from further like minded ladies.

You hpmay have seen past blogs about my finalised for awards via Bizmums so they are not just about networking groups.

Each year they allow members to apply for some funding, which can be used to develop, grow and improve your business.

Well earlier this year I applied and found out last week I have been granted part for my application. I am feeling so so grateful.

I applied for funding towards 5 course that I want to take to further help and support the children within my childcare. I was granted the funding for behaviour management within out of school children and Confidance in personal, social and emotional development.

I am so thrilled that I will soon be doing these courses, they are going to have a profound affect in children as 1: many access me around school times and the other I have strong believe that children can not learn and grow without confidence within themselves and their own abilities.

I will be booking myself on to the other courses as soon as possible as I strive to improve the chafe and education I am providing to the children within my care.

This funding is going to release finances within the business which will go back into further developing the outdoor area and for more courses to be booked.

So excited to get new things going this year…

If you want to know more about bizmums please follow this link.






Single mum and split access Journey, part 2.

From that night life totally changed….

I was unable to drive after the verdict, so my dad took the wheel. We drove to collect the children from nursery and school club… My head was all over.

How would they cope? How do I tell them? Will they resent me? How can I still provide home for them?

That week I was leaving my full time secure job to start my own business with only 1 part time paying place taken. Was the jump all too soon….

How would I financially provide for them, keep the house going and food to eat… At that point I was relying only on my wages and tax credits, which would soon change as no longer employed…. I spent the 30mins drive crying…panicking but at same time trying to calm enought to collect them and look as nothing had happened..but how wrong was I….

I walked into the nursery and as employer there my colleagues ask and the water works were back out… They were all in shock and too could not understand.

The children were excited as we were having a grandparent weekend. If is was not for my mam and dads support that weekend I’m not sure how I would cope.

My anxiety was sky high, all I felt I wanted to do was escape with the children and return back to the North East with my family. That may never happen now.

My mam helped me to explain to them what was going to happen from the following week. Was was a bit too young to really understand, however Ava-May was 4 had a lot of questions… Why do we have to? Can we come back here to sleep? Where will be be? Will I still be here? Many I could not answer.

I still had things to sort with their dad but that had to wait as I needed that weekend with the family to focus on quality time with them.

The following week emails were back and forward with my ex to sort finer details, when handover will be, times, birthdays, Christmas etc. all this was not decided within the order and left for us to control… Which was great but still now 4years on some things can still be a real struggle.

The last thing in remember from court was “the children are resilient, I see no reason why this will not work or have adverse effects on them…” Oh how I now wish that they could actually see the impacts of this on the children especially oldest.

The first few months was vile… Especially now I was gaining increasing business and services the school my two attended.

My ex had taken the court order into the school and made sure that all teaching staff knew who they children were with….this made me feel sick as 1 the school denied they were meeting him even tho I knew about it, 2nd my ex also felt I was not needed to be at the meeting… I was horrified, there was for no reason that I was not allowed to see the children during their time with there Dad.

Joint parenting which out discussions jointly, was not joint parenting in my eyes.

I remember one night their Granddad wanted me to collect Avamay from her class door and bring her to me (she asked for this in the morning), we agreed as felt better for avamay to be able to have a little time with me before going… I mentioned this to teacher in morning, upon collection Ava was sent out to me and when ready we went to leave… Oh how simple it sounded until a teacher came after me and asked where I was taken her. I discussed plan with teacher who didn’t get the message in morning.

Oh how I was stopped…. I was told I was not allowed to take my own daughter from top gate to the car park less than 2minute walk along side of school. Avamay was taken off me, crying asking for me. She was taken back into the school. I left the playground (upset too) I saw the grandad who was then concerned where she was due to being planned between us I the morning, he was not happy either.all I remember then was my anxitety going into over drive I was shaking a friend supported me while the issues was sorted with the teachers… To my luck my son was given me cuddles too… Avamay was brough out and gave me cuddles.. I helped them both to car all still a bit upset…

This court order was stupid…there was no reasons as to why I could not see the children. All the order stipulated was who the children reside with upon which week. However due to school and ex had further things must been discussed without my knowledge. I felt like life was crash around me….was I really such a bad mum…that I couldn’t see them..t

Many a night I would collected minding children and have my two running to me too, only to have to say to them they need to go with dad or alternate collector. It was and still sometimes really hard. To have to tell your own child they can not come home with you.

I remember a few occasions Ava-May screaming to come home with me, clinging and refusing to go…. Having to get friends to help me out… Still makes me feel sick to this day having to tell them they can’t and have to go…what had I done so wrong that the courts felt this was right for them…

After a few months,  I was in a constant battle with myself. My childminding was really taken off… I was in demand. But was I doing the right thing daily by working this way, servicing the school and nursery where my children attended… Should I quiet working as a childminder, so I would not see the children when was their week with there dad. Should I stop servicing the school. Would I be better going back to employed work and not see them as much, not be able to take and collect the children from school when was my week. After talking with my parents going back into full time work was not a option, I have less time woth Ava-May and Ryin due to the court order never mind not being able to be there for them when I needed to be.

After a few more discussion with their Dad, it was agreed that if the children wanted to, they could meet me at school and go in and out with me…. This was a good send as just a simple fast that Ava-May wanted, which then impacted her to be more settled with the transactions. This also meant that I could carry out my work a lot easier and not feel so guilty as to why other children could spend time with me but my own children couldn’t.

Three year on and we still sometimes do struggle, my ex and I sometimes don’t agree on things (behaviour management etc) or resolving changes, weekend swaps etc seem to be long winded…

However, we are slowly getting there. There will still be a lot of hurdles I expect to overcome… when these things happen.

The main thing I try to keep open is methods of communication, due to a week here and week there access. This is key to making things easier.

I will say it’s not easy at all. But little changes have helped e.g. Listening to what the children want, even at young age.

Lessons I have learnt and still learning.

We may never be one the same page regarding the children. However trying to be on the makes easier.

Keet communication open within the best method. For us emails and verbal chats when needed.

Behaviour will/may become challenging from the children. But stay consistent. Try talk and do same positive reinforcements with both houses, same methods. Setting same expectations within two houses. Also keep similar routines, as this can have impact on behaviour.

Reinforce that children are still loved by each parent, just the parents needed to live apart. Be as truthful and age appropriate over the situation.

I have found as I’m along getting the children help out around house helps me a lot. Little chores for them e.g. Putting their clothes away, tidying their room etc.

Split parenting is hard…I will not lie it’s really hard, I think harder as was court decision. It takes work and persistence…

Single mum and split access journey part 1.

I have had a few messages over social media saying I’m an inspiration, the strength I have is amazing and more… I am greatly touched by these messages but I have not always been this way… Here’s my story.

Four years ago this April, I found out my Husband was not happy within the relationship. I was numb,sick feeling and lifeless… I live 300miles away from my family and friends and no real good friends around this area to gain support. My life was crumbling around me… What had I done wrong, was I a bad wife or mother. Had my decision to stay at home to bring up the children added extra strain on us as a couple… Two years earlier, I opted to leave my career as a deputy manager at a nursery and stay home to help work out my anxiety issues and bring up our daughter, within a year of that I was expecting our 2nd child and working part time around his shifts. Had all these changes affected us as a couple… Suppose I will never know the real answer apart from “I have fallen out of love with you”

Within a few months after trying to “fix” the relationship my husband moved out and I was financially forced back into full time work. Although at the point ex was helping financially, I knew things had to change. I had option to move back home too, back to Northumberland, where I actually would been able to go back to work, have family help with childcare and able to afford my own home on a wage. However I felt that this was not a option, the children living so far away from their dad, seeing him everyother weekend with a four hour commute just did  not seem fair on them esp as Ava-May was loving and settling into school life really well.

I opted to stay in the family home and a friend managed to get me a job in a nursery she worked in, this was a godsend back into my career within childcare was great. However I was starting to struggling for childcare as worked in different town to daughters school, so a neighbour helped me out depending on my shifts. My ex wanted to see the children on his days off  and weekend all worked around his line of work. This was great although a fiancial strain as I was having to pay full time childcare for youngest but only accessing part time place. I soon changed work to nursery my daughter sometimes attended after school, this eased a lot as was able to acces sn pay childcare around his shifts, saw both children more and sometimes able to take daughter to school.

The divorce was sorted and went though fast, although changes had happened and finances and children’s access was no longer sorted within the divorce all seperate. This when the challanges came.

The relationship with my ex and myself was becoming stressful.  Plans were not see through, different family members were collecting the children when should been him. And demands were coming thick and fast over finances,and the children’s time with him. He wanted 50/50 access. And stopped all direct debits we agreed on at point of divorce.

Within a few month back and forth between us, I was faces with a letter from the family court (he really was taken me to court). I have a break down, my anxiety went sky high, my mind went to they will have the children off me. I was working full time as well as trying to set up my childminding business. I had been a stay home mum for 2years with him.  Bringing up the children now, I was frighten to keep stability for them.

I got advice and support from the solicitor who helped me though the divorce. We put our case forward as to why i did not feel a 50/50 access with a 1yr old and 5 year old was suitable. We tried to reason outside of court via mediation but no help. He was strong on wanting 50/50. My solicitor supported us at the 1st hearing where’s believed it would be sorted but no CAFCASS services and the the judge forwarded the case higher.

I felt sick at the thought of our relationship  was so strained that we could not be sorted outside of courts. That someone else would be deciding how the children should live. Someone else who did not know our lives, our children, our challanges etc. There was go getting out of it now. As my solicitor said he had nothing to loose if worse case for him things stay as they are.

I was struggling emotional with all this going on, and handed my notice into work with the aim of hoping my childminding would take off and with view of still being able to see and spend more time with the children. Work was very supportive of this and understood as theowners had expert es of single mum lifestyle…

The 2nd court day came, my solicitor instructed me a baraster as needed further help and support. My parents had traveled from the North East to support me. I was fed up and had several panic attacks in the morning. The children were dropped off at nursery and got load word of support from my colleagues. We all had great belief.

After a morning of my baraster trying to get to reason with my ex, offering alternate options he was still admit he wanted 50/50 only. The decision was with the judge….

I was shaking, tearful, stressed. I could not understand why he wanted the children off my after supporting my for 2years to be a stay at home mam. He works shifts, when we were together  he could go days without seeing the children, so why all this now….

I had been a single mum, working full time for 18months with children and myself happy with the arrangement for access… Now 2young children lives were in the hands of a judge.

My parents, family, friends and barrister were a lot more positive than me. I had hope but not great hope… Want was I on paper but a single mum, low income no family close for physical support. He was financially better stable than me, living with his girlfriend and had family on hand to help… No brainier to me but was told never really happen esp not in courts, and defiantly not unless there was cause for concern, why they children should be taken from there mother….

We were called in, my heart sunk as it was not one judge but a panel of three… Three people total strangers were decisioning on two children’s lives they have never meet.

My barrister but forward my case, my ex represented himself with a makenzie friend… We were dismissed… For them to discuss…

Four hours dragged….I knew from a gut feeling was look looking hopeful for my side as I did not feel would take so long… My barrister discussed seperate with the judges and my ex to try resolve with out the need for this… Still no luck….

We were called back in…the decision had been made… I crumbled…

The panel felt children living between two homes would not have a negative impact on them.

It was decided from the following week the children would live between my home and their dads for 10 weeks then 11the week would be a split week due to their dad having to work a week of nights. That was printed black and white… All worked around his shifts…

I crumbled… We were dismissed… Within a couple of week I had to prepare for the children lives to change dramatically.

My parents waited outside… I saw them and that was it…I crumbled further… I was heart broken….I never stopped him seeing the children… I worked with him from day 1 of the breakdown and life was to totally change for us all…my babies would have to learnt olive between two homes.

My barrister was great, he was in shock too as to why it was decided, why the panel felt it was good for the children. I was told we could try to appeal but due it already been discussed via a panel would not be any success. But still a option to look at.

From that night life changed….


(to be continued..)






Pumpkin and chocolate muffins

I first saw a recipe for this on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pickyourownpumpkinsbednall

So was worth a try but I altered the recipe a little due to first time trying it. These are so yummy, personally can not taste the pumpkin, so next time add more but really holds t moisture in them. My two normally only eat fruit cake but loved these.

So here how we baked ours.


375g caster sugar,

300ml pumpkin purée,

300ml vegetable oil,

4 eggs

375g plain flour,

2teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and 2 teaspoons baking powder

1teaspoon cinnamon.

100g chocolate chips

50g coco powder.


Beat the eggs, adding sugar, pumpkin, and vegetable oil.

In seperate bowl sieve the flour, coco powder,  bi card, baking powder, cinnamon.

Slowly fold into egg mixture. Add in the chocolate chips.

seperate over the muffin tins, we manages to get 24, however amount will depend on if muffin or cupcake cases.

Bake for 15-20 minutes on 200C oven, until slit spring when touched.

We iced with orange butter icing and Halloween themed sprinkles.

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