Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nursery nightmares

Tell me something. Why is it that life just seems to get harder? No sooner have I (sort of) got used to abandoning Louis with his erstwhile lovely nanny while I go out to work then wham, she hits me with the news that she can’t look after him anymore because it clashes with the English class she wants to take. I couldn’t face the emotional investment necessary to find another nanny, so I had no choice but to become one of those nursery mums. You know, the ones who spend so much time insisting their kids actually love it once they are there that I can’t help but not believe them.

I have to confess Fate played a small part in my decision. Two weeks before Anna dropped her bombshell, a local nursery I’d put Louis’s name down for BEFORE we left for DC (i.e. when he was three months old) had got in touch to say they had space on the two days I needed. Which at the very least was prescient timing. And he is 20 months now. So a lot older than he might have been starting out at nursery. And yet. He’s still so small. So attached to his Mummy and Daddy. And he was so happy with Anna. Sigh.

After jumping through the requisite hoops to nail the place, we’re now busy settling him in. Or, unsettling him in, I should say. I’m being characteristically wimpish about it, staying with him for twice as long as most parents. But last Thursday I actually had to leave him. Not for long. Just an hour or so. But as soon as he clocked what was going on he became frantic. “Louis coat. Louis coat,” he bleated, as he grabbed my hand and marched me to where his coat was indeed hanging up, tears falling all the time. I nearly bottled it yet again, but figured I should probably go through with it. And so I abandoned him, crying, to the embrace of the lady charged with his care while I can’t be bothered. At least that’s what it feels like. And yes, I was crying too.

I’m told he settled quickly – after about five minutes – and that he spent the rest of the time doing “individual play”, which seems to be the nursery gold standard. But it didn’t make me feel any better about leaving him. Especially as I can’t stop the words of a child psychologist we saw on a recent TV programme about childcare echoing round my head. He called nursery, ‘the biggest social experiment ever carried out,’ referring to the fact that we are the first generation to have handed care of our children over to complete strangers. Then there are those studies that show boys aged around two fare the worst in nurseries, becoming either withdrawn and sad or aggressive. It' s because they are under stress; in tests their brains appear marinated in cortisol, the stress hormone. Worse, they are consequently at a higher risk of emotional and social problems in later life.

Each time I express doubts, I’m told that ‘it’s good for him’. And that he needs to snap that cord eventually. But I’m still far from convinced, albeit totally willing to eat my words if need be. That said, I fear doing so will just turn me into one of those mums (see above). And so the cycle of angst begins again.


Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

I had my two in nursery 3 afternoons a week. It was difficult, but once they got used to their surroundings, I really think that they did enjoy it. It is tough though. I hope that you and Louis find that you both like it after all. xx

Babies who brunch said...

Thanks Brit. Was thinking again this morning that if only he could just do two mornings a week with me picking him up at lunchtime then I think it might be great. It's the whole day thing that bothers me. Mainly because of the dreaded sleep .......... X

Josie said...

Aw mate that's so tough :( Don't envy you that at all.

As with everything else it's a horrible balancing act - your needs (work) vs. Louis'. I'm beginning to realise that there may never be perfect solutions to these things, sometimes we just have to work out the best scenario we can.

I really hope that once Louis settles and you both get used to the new routine you can feel happier and more at peace with it all.

Much love xxx

Heather said...

it's a toughie isn't it? I feel for you.It sounds like he's settling in though if he was busy playing after 5 mins...

Fingers crossed for you that he comes to really enjoy it soon

Babies who brunch said...

The thing is, Josie, I'm not even sure that going out to work is what I DO need. Sure, some work is good, and I like writing.... but I think I'd rather just do a little bit from home than go into an office... But I know the grass is always greener. Thanks. x

Yeah, Heather, it could have been a lot worse. But I worry that it will be next Thursday when he has to stay all day!

Iota said...

You could try it for a while, and if you really don't feel it's right for you and Louis, then think again (though of course that's a recipe for not being committed enough to make it work, and could become a self-fulfilling prophecy).

Just a thought - could you do two mornings or two afternoons, instead of one whole day? My younger son went to nursery one morning a week, and in retrospect (glorious retrospect), a week was long enough for him to keep forgetting that it was ok.

Muddling Along Mummy said...

Oh lovely it is so tough (not least because you rarely get to see them enjoying being there because you're either picking them up or dropping them off)

Does your nursery do an open door policy where you can sneak in and check up on how he's doing - I found that turning up out of the blue meant I found out that mine was happy and not the distraught little thing I was leaving in the mornings

Modern Dilemma said...

Honestly my lovely, he will be fine. As hard as it seems it really is best to drop off, do a nice goodbye and get going. He'll cry for a little while for sure but soon realise there is lots of fun to be had. Welcome to the world of nursery mummy guilt but don't make it too hard on yourself, he really will be fine.

MD xx

Babies who brunch said...

Iota - that's a really good plan. But I know that the nursery won't have the space the other days. Plus I do kinda love my four days straight off... basically I'm greedy!

MAM - if only they did an open door policy. They're so strict you're practically not even allowed back to pick them up. Dread to think what's going on while I'm not there... thanks tho.

MD: "nursery mummy guilt. Yup, got it in one. (ALthough I'm cunningly using an illness of his this week - incubated at the wretched nursery last week of course - to avoid making him go back there. And all because I can't face it.)