Leaving your child at nursery for the first time can be incredibly daunting for many parents. You have built a special relationship over the length of your maternity leave that actually started long before they were even born. How another person or persons could ever be able to care for your child in the way that you would like can seem impossible. And yet, over 65% of mothers in the UK are currently in work, and a large proportion of those mothers will have entrusted the care of their children to a nursery. So, how do you make it as easy and as painless as possible? Here are our tips.
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Don’t pick the first nursery you come across and leave it at that. Research a few options so that you are able to visit and get a real feel for them. Try to take someone with you when you visit, and don’t call to pre-arrange either. Most nurseries welcome parents when they drop in unexpectedly because it enables them to show you a true picture of everyday life in their setting. Take notes if you need to, and prepare a list of questions before you go. Read Ofsted reports and try to gauge other’s opinions on the nursery before you make a decision. At the end of the day, you need to be happy with your nursery choice, so make sure you start this process well before you are due to return to work.
Prepare your child- and yourself
Before your child is due to start nursery, spend some time talking about it and preparing them- and you- for the big day. Whatever their age, most children respond well to lots of communication about changes, and it will help you too. Older children may like to go out and choose a new bag for spare clothes, or a new coat. You can use your Babymule to pack both your things in and your child’s if they are smaller. The wet bag and pouch are great if you only need to take nappies and spare clothes!
If you can, take your child to see their new nursery before they start. Make sure that you have a few settling in sessions before your child starts. Make the most of these sessions and use them to iron out any issues that may arise.
On the big day…
The best and easiest way to make the ‘drop off’ is a little like taking off a plaster. Do it quickly and make it less painful. Your child may not cry. You are more likely to, but if your child doesn’t take this as a good sign! If your child does cry, don’t panic. This is very normal and most children settle a few minutes after parents have left. This can be very distressing but it really is best not to return to your baby and scoop them into your arms. This will only make the inevitable separation a lot worse, as you will need to then make your exit a second time. Trust in your nursery staff and allow them to take over the care of your child. It is not easy. Hang around, out of sight, if you must. Call later to check they are settled. But don’t go back to them as the end result will simply be that leaving them never gets easier.
Talk to the nursery staff about your child each time you pick them up and make sure you keep communications open so that any problems can be tackled immediately. And, most importantly, relish that moment when your child spots you at the doorway after a busy day and runs to you for a cuddle. Those moments are special, and that smile is just for you!