Little one due to start nursery soon? Read on……..
I couldn’t believe how quickly the start of nursery came about…… just a few months before, I had felt as though my maternity leave was dragging a little, and then the last few months just flew by!!
We had picked our nursery when he was just 3 months old (which I thought was early), and thank god we did – as they had a waiting list of 12 months!! I was due back to work in 9 months at that point – so had no choice but to look for another nursery for him to go to for the first 3 months after I returned to work, before swapping him into the nursery of my choice. I knew that was going to be a logistical nightmare, as well as being a lot of stress and upheaval for him – but I had no choice!
A month before I was due to go back to work, I received a phone call to say that someone had dropped out of my 1st choice nursery, and hence he could start earlier than planned – I have never been so relieved from a phone call – a load of stress and anxiety was suddenly lifted!! The lesson for you to take away from this? It is never too early to put your child’s name down at nursery!!
We had 2 settling in sessions booked in which were a week before he started full time. The first settling in session was 2 hours long, and I stayed there with him for the duration. Thankfully, being a sociable baby, he loved it. He played with the nursery staff whilst I filled out some forms, but kept looking back at me, potentially just to check I was still there. The second settling in session was just him on his own for 3 hours – and my husband was more nervous than I was! He dropped him off, and left. There were apparently a few tears when he left, but he soon started playing and was fine when we went to pick him up. He did miss his nap though, as there was obviously too much going on, and absolutely KO’d the minute he got into the car.
As he was going full time, we decided to break him in gently. So we did half days for the first 2 days, then a longer day the next 2 days, and then a full day on the Friday.
From day 2 onwards, there were tears at the stage of handing him over. He had cottoned on to the fact that as soon as he went over, mummy or daddy would leave. It was heartbreaking, but friends had assured me that he would settle after a few weeks. I felt like the worst mum in the world!! Sleep also was a problem, as he was hardly napping during the day which would make him extra grumpy!
As the week went on, although the crying at drop off carried on (the drop & run technique was used daily!), he was starting to sleep a little (a third of what he was at home, but it was progress), and he seemed to be eating well.
Food – lets talk about that. Oh my god, how can a mum compete? They are literally fed every few hours – it’s amazing! 8am is breakfast, 10am is a snack, 11.30am is lunch, 1.30pm is a snack, 3.30pm is tea, and then 5pm is another snack. Talk about eating like little kings and queens!
However, one thing I wasn’t prepared for, was how filthy he was going to be! And through no fault of the nursery staff! But, the meals, the messy play, and outside play all contributed towards him looking like a bit of a ferrel child after a full day! On the first day he went dressed in clothes from M&S – never again! It’s now H&M and supermarket specials!!
One thing that was re-assuring for us was that on every pick up, we saw him happily playing with other children, and the staff. So for us, that was good to know, and help the guilt!! Plus, at the end of each day, we had a report which consisted of what he had eaten, his bowel movements, his sleep time, and what he had enjoyed doing that day. That really helped us, as it meant we were very well informed about his daily activities.
Week 2 was slightly better. We still had crying on drop off, and for this week, the crying started as soon as we entered the building – heartbreaking! But, the staff were used to this, and had a plan. When my husband would drop him off – they would distract him with a piece of toast – talk about easily pleased. So that’s the other thing – my husband did the drop offs for the first few weeks. I had heard from quite a few people that it’s much harder for the baby when it’s the mum doing the drop offs.
By the end of the week, we had our first day where there was no actual crying when he was handed over – RESULT!!!!! Well, not quite – because then we made a mistake. We went away for a long weekend, which meant four days of no nursery – and on the first day back, we had tears again……. ARGHHHHH!
Week 3 gave us some progress. His sleep had improved, and after a few days of crying on drop off, it settled again. My husband said he was still giving the puppy dog “why are you leaving me” eyes – but, there were no tears. And then, I was at work one Thursday afternoon, and I received a phone call. When the nursery name flashed up on my screen, I must admit, I went into total panic mode! But they were very good at telling me not to worry, and they had just called to let me know that he had a little bump to his head – but was ok – PHEW! And there it was – his first entry into the accident book.
One thing I wasn’t prepared for? The SNOT – yuk! He had a snotty nose from week 2 of nursery, and if my friends children are anything to go by – then it’s here to stay! Time to stock up on tissues and vapour rub!
Week 4 for me, was the game changer. He had his first sleep of 1.5 hours, AND on the Thursday of that week, on handover, he even waved!! RESULT! Now that is what we had been waiting for!
The nursery staff had told us from the beginning that he would settle in quicker than some of the other children as he was 5 days a week – and they were right, as within 4 weeks he was used to his little routine. And that made things much easier for us all, and the guilt disappeared as I knew that he was playing and eating all day, and happy to wave us off in the morning.
And on the Friday of week 4? He came home with his first painting – my heart actually melted! His first painting for me was amazing (how clever). It will be framed, and he can sign it for me in a few years time when he is a famous artist……. *proud mum alert*.
About to go through it all? Try not to worry too much, or put too much pressure on yourselves, they will settle into the new routine. And with all that eating, playing and sleeping – what’s not to love?????????
Mummy S x