Out of the whole starting a nursery series this is by far the hardest post I’ve had to write. Annabel has been at nursery for four months now and walking out of the door and handing her to someone else is still hard.
We’ve been through the tears (both of us), the clinging on for dear life and the looks of desperation and it’s been heartbreaking. So now I’m meant to pass on my pearls of wisdom and make your journey easier and stress-free . . . . The honest answer? I can’t.
Starting nursery is going to be a journey for both of you, a learning experience and a day by day transition that will be painless one day and heart-breaking the next. But there is no easy way to go through it.
All I can offer is some advice on things to expect, and some tips to try and make those nursery days a tiny bit less stressful. Things I’ve learnt, noticed and tactics I’ve developed along the way to try and make things run a little smoother.
- Expect the first few settling in days to be relatively painless. Maybe not for you, but for your little one. I was told to expect this and my they were right! Annabel had a great time exploring in those first few sessions and days – I was on cloud9 and thought the whole process was going to be simple. No chance! The intrigue at being somewhere new very quickly gave way to panic once she realised that I wasn’t coming back until the end of the day. I’m not saying this to burst any bubbles – but it’s best to be aware.
- Be firm – When you drop your little one off try not to have extended goodbyes. You’ll find that the longer you’re there waiting for them to settle the longer they’ll take, and staying to soothe them before you leave can make things worse rather than better. I find it’s easier to hand Annabel to her key worker, quickly say goodbye and let her key worker distract her with new toys or talking about the day ahead.
- Expect phases – some days Annabel will run in happily and others she will hold onto me and cry. I try to treat everyday the same with the same routine, big cuddles and a quick goodbye. If she’s really breaking her heart I’ll stick around for a little while out of sight and make sure she’s calming down. I can guarantee within a few minutes she’s happily playing- they certainly know how to pull on your heart strings!
- Don’t make them go without their comfort – whether that’s their dummy, blanket or snuggle toy make sure that they have their little something from home on hand that their key workers can use to help settle them if they get upset. Now isn’t the time to go tough on removing comfort blankets.
- Get everything ready for nursery the day before. Bag packed and clothes ready – the smoother and calmer you are getting ready in the morning the calmer your little one will be. Running around desperately trying to get ready and find the nursery bag when you’re rushing out of the door will only raise everyone’s stress levels before you even get there. The same goes for making sure everything is labelled and named, losing shoes and other pieces that you’ve inevitably just bought doesn’t make things easy! Take a look at www.labels4kids.com for every kind of label you’ll ever need!
- This leads on to a tip that I have learnt the hard way – always carry spares. Even when I get everything ready the night before I can guarantee I’ll get to nursery to something unexpected; like it will be brilliant sunshine when I’ve dressed Annabel for the forecasted rain. This is where the “just in case” bag in the boot of the car comes in handy – spare suncream, sunhat, hair brush and bobbles, change of clothes and spare nappies and wipes etc. You never know when you’re going to need something and it’s so much easier having it to hand in the car than having to dash back or go without. (And this works for every other scenario too – I also have a spare towel in the boot for impromptu seaside, friends paddling pool, or other water based situations!)
- If your little one really isn’t settling have a look at the days/times/hours that they’re doing – are they going to nursery enough to really understand, remember and get used to it? Doing one morning or day a week maybe isn’t regular enough for your little one to get used to being apart from you.
There are some other great tips for getting out of the house on time and surviving the day in my infographic which you can see here Time Saving Tips.
So sorry that there isn’t a magic solution for getting your little one to settle, but hopefully these tips will help reduce the stress a little. I have to admit that I cry dropping Annabel off on the days she’s runs in happily just as much as the days she cries!
Have you got any helpful tips or advice to add? Let us know in the comments below.