This morning when I dropped my son at nursery I bumped into another mum I know, she was dropping her son off for his first settling in session. I could see the nerves in her face, the desire to just grab her baby boy and leave and the desperate hope that he’ll settle well and have a lovely time. I was that mum only a couple of months ago, so I was able to say a few words of quick reassurance and I know her son had a lovely time. When my baby boy started nursery it was the first time I’d put a child under 3 into childcare, so I thought I’d share a few reflections about the past few weeks:
They don’t forget you or love the nursery staff more. I genuinely worried about this, and worked out the ratios of time he’d be with me versus the time he was with them. The glee and love you see on their face when you pick them up is the best!
It really can be best to drop them, say goodbye and run, especially if they get upset. I think this one varies from child to child, my son sometimes cries when I leave, but by the time I’m down the corridor he’s stopped.
They have a wonderful time! My son’s nursery send pictures during the day which is lovely, it also means if we’ve had a difficult drop off I don’t always ring up because I’ve seen a picture and know he’s ok.
They will come home filthy! Maybe this is just mine, but he’s always covered in all sorts, we’ve split a section of his wardrobe for nursery clothes that I don’t mind getting wrecked.
He’s a bit more ‘clingy’ when I pick him up. This was a shock and tricky to begin with, but I’ve learnt to accept that for the couple of hours following his nursery sessions I will just have to surrender to sofa based cuddles.
They have amazing meals. My boy eats so so well at nursery, with snacks, cooked lunches and puddings. Whilst I’d like to be the super mum that had an amazing nutritionally balanced dinner on the table for us all every night, sometimes it’s really handy knowing he’s had proper lunch and I can just make him some toast or a sandwich for dinner.
They probably won’t sleep as well as they do for you. My son will have a longer afternoon sleep at home now, sometimes with a short nap in the morning too, but typically at nursery he only has just one sleep, that is much shorter.
And on the subject of sleep, they will find a way to get your child to sleep. I worried about this a lot and kept picturing him crying, but he’s adapted really well. The nursery staff are experienced, have dealt with lots of different sleeping habits and want you to give them as much information as possible to ensure your child feels comfortable to rest.
If you want them to keep a secret they will. My baby started nursery before he could walk and I was terrified he’d take his first steps there so I told them if he did I didn’t want to know. I’m 95% certain those steps didn’t happen there and his first steps were the ones I almost cried watching at home, because that’s where he’s most confident and comfortable.
A large majority of us are now in households where both parents have to work, so using childcare is inevitable, whilst my son goes to a nursery, I think the experience is similar whatever option you go for. It’s really important that you feel comfortable with where you pick for your child and you see can that your child is special and important to them. While it initially can be really tough, as with much of parenting, this too soon shall pass, and you’ll be the mum giving the reassuring nod to the other worried looking parents.
Felixstowe and Stowmarket Teacher