West Country sees rise in virtual childcare since coronavirus lockdown

  • Report by Nick Smith

Parents in the South West spend an average of £234 per week on full-time childcare for children under four-years-old.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of parents have resorted to virtual nannies in order to grab a few hours of peace to concentrate on work.

Krishnaa Shyam Sundar from Bath is having to balance running her busy textile business with looking after her children.

Krishnaa owns her own textiles business, Krishnaa Shyam designs. Credit: ITV News

"It's been hard, a difficult experience and something that I did not foresee because you constantly feel like they require attention and your work requires attention at the same time.

"So there's the guilt attached to it saying I'm not spending enough time with my children and then I'm not spending enough time with my work."

Toni Weir, from Newquay, has had a similar experience. She says: "Lennon's an only child and I was working from home and she wanted my attention all the time.

"So there was a lot of relying on the telly to distract her so I could do some calls and you could see after a period of time she was really missing playing with other children."

Eve Squires from Dorset, has hired a 'Zoom Nanny', something that is becoming more popular as working from home becomes a part of everyday life.

She says it helps to retain the work and family life balance.

Eve said: "I quite like the fact that he was still in the home, I could keep an eye on him, if he needed me he was there but actually I could get on and have chunks of time where I could be continuous in my work.

Virtual childcare is becoming more and more popular across the West Country. Credit: ITV News

Danielle Manton-Kelly has converted her childcare service business online to become a virtual nanny, with a focus on education as well as entertainment.

A former primary school teacher, Danielle began running free online reading groups for children.

She then had a number of parents asking her if she could look after their kids one-on-one.

"The wonderful thing about being able to do this via Zoom is that I can tutor or run a Zoom nanny session with either one child, or one family or with a group which is really lovely because you're keeping cohorts together or actually creating new ones with children all around the world which is really quite magical so it's given opportunities that we may not otherwise have had."

Danielle has moved her childcare business online since the pandemic began. Credit: ITV News

Child therapist, Joanne Hipplewith from the UK Council for Psychotherapy, says we should be wary of substituting more screen time in place of physical interaction with children.

"I know they might be very familiar with it, with the iPads and other apps that they use but is that how we really want our generation to engage, how we want them to feel connected with people.

"There is something really important and human about having contact with people."