Until recently I was completely naive to a particular angle in the childcare debate, and that is that putting your kids into nursery is neglectful and pretty much the worst thing you could do.  Ever. If you have a spare half hour and don’t offend easily then there is a world out there to explore – most recently a post went viral on Facebook with a mother receiving a letter through her door from a woman telling her she regularly saw her dropping her baby at nursery in distress (the baby) and closed the letter – that included references to research about the length of time children spend at nursery and their stress levels – there was no point having kids for someone else to bring them up. So back in the real world….

From the very beginning of our childcare journey we knew that child-minders weren’t going to be a viable route for us largely because of the holiday logistics, and in all honesty I was pretty closed to the idea of our daughter being in a smaller environment with fewer kids. Again – personal preference, I know there are lots of benefits to a more bijou approach! I loved the idea of her being with a bigger group along with 51 weeks of the year being covered. We waited until Polly (our eldest) was six months old to really start the nursery hunt – partly denial and partly because I wasn’t going back to work until she was almost 10 months old so that felt like plenty of time.  What came next were endless readings of reviews, texts to friends with older kids, texts to friends who were teachers asking their advice and the reality of walking round experiencing first hand the nursery’s that could end up being where our most precious cargo would be spending four pretty long days a week.  I was always going back to work so there was no grey area about IF we would need childcare, it was WHEN. We don’t live particularly close to family but even if we did it wouldn’t have been right for us to factor them into looking after her long-term, although I know lots that do and it works incredibly well.

It wasn’t a decision we took lightly.  It was a heady mix of closely looking at the setting, the outdoor space, routine, food set up and price that all needed to be made sense of.  Looking back I went pretty much on the gut feel of the locations, the staff and how many kids were in-need-of-a-nose-wipe-and-not-getting-one numbers. I have issues with snot and I make no apologies.

Sending Lilly (our youngest) was again the inevitable – we’ve been really happy with the nursery and I need to work, this time around there was a lot less thinking to be done.  The emotions though….oh so many flying at me in one big go! We won’t have any more babies so this is it – the last time I’ll have a maternity leave, the last time I’ll be weaning a baby, the last time I’ll….you name it I have thought of it.  There are also plenty of first times though that pave the way for a lifetime of memories and those are the ones I’m giving my attention to over the coming weeks as we all settle into our new routines.

Nursery has been one of the best things for Polly.  She amazes us every day with the things she comes out with, the way she’s developing, making friendships, balancing independence with wanting the guidance from us and other adults around her. If it had been financially viable for me to stay at home I still wouldn’t.  Maybe I’d have thought about it a bit longer but ultimately not being with my kids 24/7 makes me a better Mum and I make no excuses for that.  I can’t sugar coat that when all my time is focused on them I’m exhausted, I forget who I am as a person, I fixate on routine and have very little time for me or anybody else other than them.  Having time to myself, with my husband, working, exercising – those things give me balance, perspective and a break.  I know not every Mum would say the same and that’s obviously absolutely fine – for as long as it is me bringing up my kids, my way is what matters for me.  Sure we can all have opinions, the world would be pretty boring without them, but our opinions don’t make us right for everybody – it’s what works for us.

I wouldn’t want someone else to raise my kids and I don’t see nursery as that in the slightest.  You’d only need to spend about three minutes in the company of my girls to realise that they’re a little bit of me, a little bit of their Dad and a lot of their own person and for that I feel very grateful and VERY lucky.  Whatever the childcare setting you pick – staying with you, child-minder, nursery, family, the next door neighbour – make the choice for you and what’s right for your family. Parent like no one’s judging.

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