Dickie and I had always agreed that when Bells turned 9 months old, we’d send her to nursery for a couple of mornings per week. We thought that it would be good for her to socialise, to learn new skills, to share…. and of course it meant a few precious hours to get done all of the jobs that we’d been putting off. We could do this, we were ready.
After what felt like a never-ending search (more about searching for nurseries in another post), we finally found a nursery that we loved and so the time came after many settling in sessions for Bells to take the big step into the world of nursery land.
After many tears (all mine) and having resigned myself to the fact that she was growing up far quicker than I’d like, the big day came. Of course, I was expecting the first day to be tough, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. However, nobody warned me that this was the start of a tough few couple of months. I’d thought that I’d share with you some of the challenges that we faced so that if you’re going through it, you know you’re not alone and if your little one is about to start, you know how to prepare….
THE NURSERY BUG
No, I’m not talking about an obsession with going to nursery sadly… I’m talking every illness under the sun for 4 months solid. Everybody will tell you that it’s good for their immune systems, but there comes a time where you think enough already. Not to mention that they often can’t go to nursery if they’re sick and so it takes longer for them to settle as a result. Fun. However, after month 4, you’re generally all good and things get much better, so hang on in there.
SHARING IS CARING
Whilst you might have thought one benefit of your little Munchkin going to nursery was them learning to share, you didn’t expect the first thing that they’d go and share was their illnesses! Whilst our immune systems have definitely developed, having noses wiped on you and surviving on very little sleep means you stand no chance of warding off the nasty bugs.
This certainly doesn’t go for everyone, but sadly we were blessed with a fussy eater who isn’t great at the best of times. Of course, they’re in a strange environment and so their usual eating habits will be thrown out of sync for a while. However for us, aside from Rice Krispies in the morning (there’s no keeping the girl away from them), she refused all meals and alternatives for 5 months straight. I’d have to collect her from nursery at lunchtime and take her straight for something to eat before we could get on with our day. However, with persistence, an increasing desire to copy her nursery buddies and with me withdrawing alternatives upon pick up, she caved and now eats better there than at home. Have faith that it will come good and don’t be afraid to talk to the nursery to come up with some different solutions.
Nobody can prepare you for the physical heartbreak that you feel when you leave your Mini Human sobbing in the hands of a stranger for the first time. However, before long, I soon realised that the tears soon stopped when I left the room (I’m pretty sure they were for my benefit). Trying to squeeze in as many settling in sessions as possible before they start (which are usually free, BONUS!) will definitely prepare them and make them feel more familiar when the time comes. It’s also important to build their trust that you’re coming back, so I always give Bells a kiss, tell her I’ll be back at lunchtime and leave the room as quickly as possible to prevent causing a fuss. Bells now squeals with delight when she gets to nursery, which I can’t say I’m overly impressed about…. #jealousy
SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK
As any parent will know, sleep is often the first thing affected when there’s a change in the baby’s life (or the day ends in Y). Nursery is a massive change for them, a new environment and probably the greatest period of time that they’ve spent away from you and so often when they come home they’re super clingy and not keen on sleeping in case you aren’t there when they wake up. With mum guilt at it’s peak, it’s easy to feel like the best thing that you can do is to allow them to sleep with you, but this will only prolong the problem. The sleep situation will rectify itself and by sticking to your usual routine, you are providing them with some familiarity, which is so important in such a period of change.
Speaking of sleep, it’s not unusual for your dearly beloved routine to go out of the window when your Mini Me starts nursery and there’s far too much going on for them to nap. Fear not, your hard work hasn’t been wasted. Within a couple of weeks, the novelty will have worn off and they’ll be begging for naps having had sensory overload from everything going on around them. Once again, communication is key and so speaking to the nursery to help educate them about your usual routine will really help. Bells has a muslin and a toy horse that she takes with her for naps from home, which helps her nod off too.
Before you know it, your little one will be settled and you’ll be wondering what all of the fuss was about… how many times up until now have you found yourself sleep deprived or worried, wondering if it will ever end? Plus, there’s the best bit… the pick up… spying them before they spy you, watching them play and then seeing their faces light up when they spot you… That is of course, unless you’re Bells and your mum walks in to find you giving your Key Worker a cuddle that you’ve never given your parents EVER. We’re not bitter about it at all, honest.
I hope that helps. If you have any other tips or advice, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.