"I think nursery would be good for her...and you"
It's something that's been said to me on more than one occasion over the past few months and it's something that's been on mind ever since I was pregnant with Elsie. But how do you decide what childcare is the best thing for your child and for you?
We've been very fortunate in that we haven't had any pressure to send Elsie to nursery or to a childminder as my mum takes care of Elsie when I'm at work, but I've long pondered what the affects might be on being a stay-at-home-baby as opposed to being a nursery-baby? She's totally nurtured for in every kind of way being at home with us, with regular trips to various places from the park to the garden centre and our home is supplied with enough toys to keep a small toy shop afloat. But with a new baby on the way and it becoming harder to keep her overactive mind stimulated each and every day, I'm beginning to seriously worry that she might be missing out on something from being at home full-time?
Do stay-at-home-babies miss out?
There are the obvious aspects that I'm concerned she might be lacking, such as socialising with other children her age, having access to a range of simulating activities, being in a learning environment from an early age, being taught and disciplined from other adults outside of the family unit and most importantly, realising that she's not the only tiny human in the universe. But making the decision to send your child to nursery- where you don't know the childcare assistants or how well your child will be cared for in your absence is a really hard thing to shake off.
How would she cope without me there?
Now I know that kids are robust and adapt quickly, but what if Jacob the hard nut kid who has been ruling the nursery rooms from 6 months old keeps pushing her over and making her cry? What if Stacey the nursery key worker doesn't clock onto this fact because she's busy dealing with Sophie the winging kid who won't join in and just sits in the corner crying for her mummy? What if my child is the one who struggles to play with other kids or is the one sitting in the corner crying? What if she hurts herself and no one sees her? What if she chokes on something and no one is watching her? What if she thinks I've abandoned her? What if she hates it? What if she hates me for sending her there? My reservations are endless and these are just a snippet of the scenarios and excuses that run through my head as to why I shouldn't send her to nursery.
I won't be there to protect her.
You can't protect them forever.
But that's my job.
I'm fully aware that at some point she'll have to go to school. Crikey, I still can't manage to carry out simple household tasks without her toddling behind me causing enough havoc to make it look as if we're trying to stage a burglary in our home. I keep telling myself that 'creating mess' is just one of her many talents rather than her being on a mission to send me over the edge. Failing that thought, I think she might just be a little bored. But by the time she goes to school she'll be able to tell me if she's not happy, or if Jacob's being an annoying twit, or if the teacher is ignoring her or if she fell over and hurt herself? Am I just being a little too overprotective perhaps?
You might be holding her back.
Every parent worries about their child's development. We get huge kicks out of little milestones like following instructions, learning words, remembering simple tasks and showing signs that they are blossoming into little independent people that we created. These are the things that reward us and make us feel as if we're doing something right in the midst of all the shite and pure knackeredness. So I can't help but on occasion compare her to other friend's children who have been attending nursery for some time already. They generally do seem more confident in play, communication and independence and none of those parents regret sending them off to nursery, they all in fact rave about it. Not the fees of course, but that's another debate altogether.
It will do you both good.
But it's not just about me is it?
On my quest to gaining back just a little control over my life, nursery would be the perfect solution for me too. There's no denying that when I do have a little free time to crack on with housework or take some time for myself I'm then more relaxed and excited to give her my full attention, we both win. But there's still that looming sense of guilt that comes with 'palming' your child off, especially when you're not at work.
You won't know unless you try.
That 'overwhelming sense of love' that everyone talks about when you become a parent also comes hand in hand with an 'overwhelming sense of guilt'. We feel guilt and doubt in practically every decision we make where our babies are concerned and I'm pretty sure that guilt is the overall factor in my reservations about sending her to nursery. Guilt if I send her and guilt if I don't. But I can only keep her wrapped up in cotton wool for so long. There's a big wide world out there and like all parents I want her to get the most from it but in a safe and nurtured environment.
The only way I'll find out if nursery is right for us is to give it a try.
Were you torn between keeping your baby at home or sending them to nursery? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below...