The luxury of raising a family in Luxembourg does not stop once your baby becomes a toddler. Far from it, in fact it continues for a fair amount of time.
Hence why, the ‘Raising A Family Index’ found that in 2020 Luxembourg came 5th place as an ideal place to have and raise children. We were only outshone by Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland. One of the contributors to this title will no doubt include the benefit of 20 hours of free childcare for children between the ages of 0 and 4, ‘in an approved childhood structure’ for every parent.
While the state has a lot to offer, the decision must still be made by you and your partner. What is commonly found difficult in Luxembourg is that due to high demand of nursery spaces and the paperwork process we find ourselves having to make decisions much earlier than we would feel prepared to do so. This can be frustrating at times and many new parents have found that this adds to the stress of organising new family life. While it helps to speak to other parents and carers, don’t forget to go and visit nurseries and childcare services, to ask questions in person. Don’t underestimate how much that will help you make a decision and how much more comfortable you will feel when you see everything in practice and are able to ask questions face to face.
Stay at home parent vs. childcare
This is the age old discussion but at the end of the day parents have to do what is right for the family and each family will no doubt be different. If, however, you are interested in what research suggests then there are (amongst many others) two great books which address this topic and both sides are well argued. Cribsheet is the perfect book for those who have thus far not enjoyed any parenting books, it is factual, based on data and perfect for any stats fans. It compares different methods and gives you the numbers on the outcomes of different approaches. It’s really a brilliant book to pick up if you haven’t enjoyed or tried anything parenting related.
What Every Parent Needs to Know was actually recommended to me by my extremely experienced midwife. It was at a time when I was asking a lot of questions about when to let the baby sleep alone and why sleep training was so controversial. She suggested this book to me and it gave me answers to all the tough questions I was looking for. It reads more like a textbook and goes through every stage briefly including teenage years and the “terrible twos” so it’s good to have a copy on your bookshelf, you never know when the advice will come in handy!
Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster
What Every Parent Needs to Know: The Remarkable Effects of Love, Nurture and Play on Your Child’s Development by Margot Sunderland
You might already have been warned as soon as you announced to friends that you were pregnant, that if you wish to send your baby to creche before the age of 18 months you need to register as soon as possible. While this modern myth is partly true, there is definitely a longer waiting list for public crèches than private ones. It is worth noting that the two types of crèches that exist in Luxembourg are the state-supported day nurseries and private nurseries that are not supported or monitored by the state. There are big differences between the two, for example one opens during school holidays and the other doesn’t, the prices aren’t the same for both and their procedures and hours will differ too, so do your research and see what works best for your family. You can find a list of approved institutions here.
This is someone who takes care of children at home and they need a permit from the Department of Family and Integration to do so. They also need a basic training of 120 hours if they do not already have any qualifications or experience in the area of social or healthcare for children. It is a good compromise for those who may not yet feel ready for nursery and if you feel your child would benefit more from care or attention in a smaller group and a more “homely” environment. Their hours will also be more flexible too which could be helpful if you have varied working hours. You can get more information here.
A nanny or nounou is someone who takes care of your child in the day at your home. This can be very practical when your child is young and you have to go back to work but you want your child to be comfortable at home and for them be there when you get home from work. Perks of having a nanny will also include one to one attention for your child, organising specific activities that they may enjoy such as visiting the park or arts and crafts. You may also be lucky enough to find a nanny who will also help out with basic household chores too. The difficulty, however, is that they can be hard to find in Luxembourg as there are no nanny agencies and infrastructures in place to support this choice at the moment.
An au pair is someone who is between the ages of 18 and 30 looking for a cultural exchange who would like the opportunity to learn languages and culture in exchange for working and helping out around the house. As a host family you must take responsibility for the au pair and be aware that the daily participation to family duties cannot be the main purpose of the stay. They cannot participate in household tasks for more than 5 hours per day on average over a period of one week. Weekly hours cannot exceed 30 hours over a period of four weeks. There are some strict legal requirements that you should look up before inviting an aupair to join you in your home and all documentation and insurance should be handled correctly before proceeding to avoid fines and illegal action. There is up to date information on how to host an au pair here.
As of 2017, the standard tax rebate for having a child is €5,400 per year and cannot exceed the costs actually incurred or €450 per month. The allowance is divided into three categories: allowances for domestic services, allowances for care services and allowances for child care. You will need to fill out an application and provide the correct documents along with your annual tax return. You can calculate your costs and rebate here CCSS website.
This voucher is provided by the state to all children between the ages of 0 and 12. Depending on your income and circumstance you will receive a reduced rate or free childcare hours. The voucher can be used in nurseries, childcare institutes and parental assistants.
Classes for toddlers
If you have the luxury to take your child to a parent child class or activity, it might be a good way to use your parental leave time to bond with your child but also to learn and grow with them. Most classes start from the ages of 6 months and welcome either parent and sometimes both to join them.
There are plenty of public pools for example that offer swimming classes to babies and toddlers to attend with their parents. The two more well known ones are at Les Thermes and The Coque but you will no doubt be able to find one local to where you live.
For other weekly activities, Waldorfschoul in Limpertsberg offers a playgroup using the Waldorf method. Children are invited in a child-led manner to make food, crafts and participate in storytime and singing time.
I chose to keep my toddler at home for quite a while due to Covid circumstances and found that there were many ways to get her socialising and adapting to a teacher/student dynamic. There is often a lot of talk on what your kids will miss out on, depending on whichever direction you go in, but at the end of the day kids are very tenacious and adaptable. No matter what you organise for them, they are happiest when they get to enjoy themselves and discover new things, and that can happen no matter which route you go down!
The full series
You can find Marina's recommendations and steps that you should remember to take before, during, and after delivery in the five parts of this series: