So anyone following me on any social media will probably know that I’ve gone back to work and Lily has had to go to nursery. Originally we were going to phase her in, just on a Wednesday morning, until she got used to being away from me. But after 4 days at work I was told my part time days would have to change, which meant my mum couldn’t stay a whole week to look after her as she’d be coming from London, inevitably landing her in nursery sooner than we’d anticipated.
Thankfully we knew she’d have to be in nursery by October anyway, so we’d done the search several months ago, and had 3 visits to the chosen venue since we selected it – once by myself, once with Jon and once with mum. When they all confirmed they liked this one too, we thankfully settled on it, so at least the sudden “how soon can we start her?” call didn’t come as a surprise to them, or a sudden panic placement. Thankfully we had no waiting lists either and they were more than happy to accommodate her.
My initial search was done by proximity. Working in the city centre meant I had to find one nearby. I’d had my eye on a different one for a while but its lack of flexibility (really important for us!) and the proximity of its playground to the job centre entrance meant I changed my mind.
I immediately eliminated all nurseries that replaced the letter ‘s’ with a ‘z’ in any part of its name. ‘Kidz’, ‘angelz’… wtf? A guaranteed ofsted fail in my mind!
The one we settled on was the 2nd nearest to my work, before I took voluntary redundancy. But despite changing jobs at the other side of the city, I kept her at this nursery because it was small and friendly. There’s a maximum of 40 children there, only about 5 in the under 2’s room (though I’ve never seen more than about 20 there in total!), and they put the children on a direct development program for Early Years and preparing them for school.
Each child has their own development folder, and they are in touch with local specialists if any extra support is needed. They were also graded ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, and, most importantly, Lily seemed really comfortable with the staff and in the venue whenever we visited. Straight away she would go off and play. They also offered the flexibility we needed to change days with just a weeks notice without having to pay for the privilege! It also seemed really secure, with so many electronic doors to get through.
However when I found out we had to suddenly put her in so soon, I did nearly cry. I’d mentally prepared myself for this moment and knew how good it would be for her, but the shock really did hit me. I’d also not slept for the previous 4 nights since being back at work, thanks to the little one not wanting to be away from me at night.
She initially started on a morning trial, and as soon as I dropped her in, she was off, barely noticing I’d gone. I completed the necessary paperwork and they said she was doing really well, and I could peek through the little window. There she was, rocking on a plastic seesaw with one of the nursery staff, oblivious to my disappearance.
So with a near tear in my eye, I went to get the necessary caffeine fix… and possibly my first peaceful baby-less coffee and shopping trip since she was born!! All the while I was actually feeling sick at the lack of baby, wishing she was there causing chaos in the cafe beside me. So I turned up 15 minutes early to collect her, to be greeted by a wailing, hot, bundle of tears. She saw me and realised I’d left her. If the manager hadn’t been there telling me how normal this was and how well she’d done for a first time, and made me laugh telling me how she’d been desperate to play in the 2-4yr old room not the baby room, I’d have probably broken down in tears too. I felt so guilty, but knew I had no choice, and how good it will be for her when she does settle in.
I took her for a walk and she seemed to quickly return to her normal self, with a few extra cuddles, then spent my final day off with her today having as much time together as possible.
Tomorrow is her first full day in nursery, where they’re going to have to put up with a baby who refuses to nap so will get overtired, a baby who hates her nappy being changed… and one who struggles with her food. I’ve spent 14 months attempting to master how to get round these issues, but this whole new environment will throw everything for her. I know they will be used to this, because every baby is different, but it still doesn’t help the worry.
But I know it’s important for her to go (plus I need to work to pay the bills!!), so fingers crossed this sickness feeling will go away and our 8am start tomorrow back at the nursery doors won’t put us both back into tears again. I’ve got to start teaching at 8.30 so will have to drop her and run. But maybe that’s the best way. Aside from my mum, Jon and I, she’s never been with anyone else, so I’m dreading every minute. I know it will get easier, but it’s hard to imagine now… especially as I know there will be tears again at 4.30pm tomorrow!