Does your child attend childcare? Can you remember that very first day that they went? It was awful. You go through every single emotion possible. Guilt can often be one of these emotions. Am I a terrible parent for leaving them? Will they enjoy it? What are the benefits of childcare? These are just some of the questions that we ask ourselves as parents. Having worked in a nursery for the last 2 years, I feel I have an inside perspective on what it’s like to witness the dreaded drop-off, whilst also experiencing it myself as a parent.
In this post I am going to be giving an insight into how best to transition your child from home to nursery. Also, explaining some of the benefits to choosing childcare as the best option for your child.
Before I give you some advice about childcare, I am going to be sharing our story first. I’ve been working within childcare for 2 years now, and so the process of putting my own child into childcare was made very easy. I knew what the nursery was like, and I knew what the staff were like. Also, I was able to check on my child throughout the day, which most parents don’t have the luxury of doing.
Usually a child will go into childcare at the end of a mother’s maternity leave, at around the 9 month old stage. Austin however, started a little earlier. The reason for this was because of Amy’s mental health. She isn’t afraid to admit that she found things hard at this stage of Austin’s life. I was working long hours and so was out of the house a lot. Austin wasn’t sleeping well at all so the tiredness was starting to take over. He also had lots of issues with his health, as he suffered from a milk intolerance. This made parenting very difficult.
It was my suggestion to send him into nursery for one day a week, just to give Amy a break. It’s so important to take time for yourself when you are a parent. Otherwise you risk burning out. After some persuasion, Amy agreed to the idea. My argument was, that day care is there to help you, so why not use it? Especially considering I could use my discount, and could take him myself when I went to work.
Why Do Parents Hesitate?
There are many reasons why parents hesitate to put their children into childcare. They are completely reasonable reasons, but they shouldn’t be stopping anyone from proceeding.
- Guilt – many parents feel guilty about leaving their children in nursery. There is the mindset that it makes you a bad parent for passing your child onto someone else to look after. The hardest part about parenting is admitting when you need help. Too many parents struggle alone, rather than seeking assistance. No parent should feel guilty about using childcare services. They exist to help parents out!
- Fear – parents will often ask themselves “will my child be looked after properly?” and “will my child resent me for leaving them?” Nurseries are full of childcare professionals. People that have studied for years at college and university. They know what they are doing. Every member of staff that works with children has been DBS checked and have the relevant training. Your child will be in very safe hands.
How It Works
When you first sign up to a nursery, there is a settling in period that you will go through. You won’t be expected just to leave your child for their first day without some settling in first. The case in most nurseries is that there will be 3 sessions where you will come in. The first session is an hour visit where you and your child will be invited into the room. You get to stay with your child for this one, so that you can stay close to them whilst they explore.
The second visit usually comes a few days later, where you will bring your child into nursery and wait in the reception to see how they get on by themselves. In the nursery that I work at, we have the cameras set up so that you can watch them whilst your child plays.
The third visit is the big one! This is where you will leave them there and come back for them. It can be a scary process, walking out the door without them. After the third visit they are ready to start!
Tips To Make The Process Easier
I understand that leaving your child with the staff can be difficult. I’ve seen it many times when a parent just can’t let go of them. They always need just one more cuddle before they go. They linger, and you want nothing more than to (politely) push them out the door. Although this is heartwarming to see, it can have a negative impact on your child settling in. Here’s a few tips to ease the process of putting your child into nursery.
- Make goodbye’s short and sweet – Now I don’t mean throwing them through the door without even saying goodbye (yes this happens). The last thing you want is for your child to think that you don’t care about leaving them. However, some parents really take the biscuit with it. 10 minutes later they are still waving to their child from the door. The best thing you can do for your child is give them a hug and a kiss goodbye and then leave. Even if they cry, the staff will comfort them. The more you hang around, the harder it will be to leave.
- Make coming to nursery fun – Coming to nursery can be scary for a child. They are entering an environment that’s completely new to them. This can be hard even for adults to comprehend. Make the idea of coming to nursery fun and exciting. Tell your child all about the fun activities that they will be doing when they get there. Make them excited to come in and play.
- Have faith in the staff – As I mentioned before, the staff are very capable of looking after your child. They are qualified and know what they are doing. Don’t be afraid to pass over your screaming child to them and let them comfort them. After all, that’s what we are paid to do.
Benefits of Childcare
So what are the benefits of sending your child to nursery? Once you realise just how much they will be getting out of being in a childcare setting, it will be a lot easier to leave them there. It will also give you some peace of mind if you feel guilty. Here’s some of the reasons why childcare is the best option:
- It gives you a break – The most important reason! You might be using childcare because you need to go to work. However, if you want to use them just to give yourself a break, then do it! Your mental health is important, and you need to take a break sometimes. Even if it’s just for a couple of hours.
- Child interaction/social skills – Children learn so much from being around other children their own age. Austin moved into a bigger room when he turned one and since he has been with the older children, his walking has come on massively. He already has a best friend at nursery too who he plays with all the time. The social skills that children learn at nursery may not be achievable for a child who stays at home.
- Bonds with other adults – Austin has always been a sociable baby. He would smile at anyone and everyone. However, there are some children who are very attached to their parents. Nursery provides children with the opportunity to make new bonds with other adults, again developing their social skills. It teaches them that it’s okay to leave mum and dad for a while.
- Encourages independence – Children will learn that going off to play by themselves isn’t such a bad thing. There are friends to play with and activities to explore. It allows them to grow and develop and become an individual. Their personalities will start to shine through once they become confident enough to leave their parents.
- Experience new activities – It’s safe to say that at home, parents don’t have the time to be setting up activities that are going to enhance children’s learning. Also, we are often hesitant to put out anything messy for our kids to play with, in the fear of ruining that favourite sofa. At nursery, the messier the better. Your child will experience so many new activities, colours, textures and materials.
Hopefully I have given you enough reason to have more faith in the childcare industry. It’s a great place for your child to learn, develop and even make a few friends. Don’t ever feel guilty about sending your child into nursery, they will have the best time and will get so much out of it. If you still have concerns or have any more questions then feel free to get in contact.