The end of maternity leave can evoke such mixed emotions! Both times I have always had the DREAD (even though I love my job) combined with real EXCITEMENT (for both of us).
We are incredibly fortunate in that we have the most lovely nursery where the practitioners treat the babies and children as if they were their own and create the most wonderful activities, trips and events. However we are unfortunate in that we have no family nearby so if the kids or are ill we are stuffed!
I am keeping my fingers crossed that George won't be like the 'norm' picking up all the usual bugs during his first few weeks at nursery. The year Ivy started nursery within a few weeks she got norovirus and then, of course, so did I. This is a picture of her when it had snowed and we could only look out onto all the people having fun in the snow.
Another reason we love our nursery is because it is small, the babies and the toddlers all have breakfast together in the morning (they separate the rooms later in the day) so Ivy will be able to comfort George whenever he gets sad (I am sure that he will be top on her list of priorities !). Luckily the sight of a hoover or a banana usually cheers him right up, so he is easily pleased .
So here are my top tips for a smooth transition to nursery
1.Get in touch with the nursery a few months before your little one is due to start and make yourself familiar with the settling in process. Any good nursery will have planned in some stay and plays before you have to leave them.
Having a great time at nursery during settling in week. Getting photos sent like these when you have left them crying can make such a difference. 3.Everyone worries about how their little one will nap at nursery because we all have our own ways of doing things but children quickly adapt to new environments and routines. Provide the nursery with any comforts which will help settle your little one for naps e.g. familiar grow bag, comforter and/or teddy.
2. If you can, start back at work after they have done a couple of full days at nursery, see if you can work from home or work flexible hours while they are settling in. Most employees will be accommodating as the better they are settled the less likely you will be called away from work to go and collect them early.
checking out his new surroundings
3. Everyone worries about how their little one will nap at nursery because we all have our own ways of doing things but children quickly adapt to new environments and routines. Provide the nursery with any comforts which will help settle your little one for naps e.g. familiar grow bag, comforter and/or teddy.
First nap at nursery. He never sleeps on his back at home !
4. Preparation is key ! For me, every minute in the morning counts as getting to work on time is crucial to me when I am teaching, lecturing or providing group sleep workshops. The night before, make sure that you have everything prepared:
Nursery bag packed (your nursery should provide you with a list of things needed)
Clothes and shoes that they will be wearing laid out
Pram/car seat ready to go
All the things you need for work
I always get up half an hour before the kids wake up and get myself ready so that I can concentrate on the kids as soon as they wake up.
5. Leaving them! The worst bit! If you have time try to settle them in the room before you leave but don’t hang around too long or this can make the leaving harder. Once you are ready to leave, make the goodbye SHORT and SWEET! Quick kiss, cuddle, eye contact and say good bye (don’t be tempted to sneak out). Once you have done said goodbye, don’t go back in because you will only confuse them and they will spend the day waiting and expecting you to keep reappearing. If they are really distressed when you leave, call or message the nursery to find out how they are, the chances are they have already forgotten about you and are tucking into their breakfast. It is rare for Ivy to get upset when I drop her off these days but a few weeks ago she did and I messaged the nursery 2 minutes after I had left and they sent me a lovely photo of her happily eating her Weetabix.
If only all my goodbyes involved leaving them at home in their PJS with daddy to do the drop off!
6. Plan your pick-ups carefully. If you can, get there in plenty of time before the nursery closes so that you can talk to the practitioners about your little one's day (ours provide a really useful sheet about how much they slept, ate and pooped!). This also gives you time to have lots of cuddles before you have to strap them into their pram or car seat which never goes down well with either of mine! I always have a biscuit in my pocket for desperate times!
It can be really tempting to delay bedtime because you want to spend time with they them but I would advise against this (especially if your little one is struggling with napping) as they will be shattered from nursery and if anything they will need an earlier bedtime.. Delaying it will only mean that bedtime becomes a battle and they may wake up in the night or have more wake ups (if they still wake in the night) because they will be overtired. Instead, have a slightly earlier bedtime and you will probably find story time a more calm and enjoyable time than if they are overtired.
Ivy and George reunited after his first settling in morning
Good Luck, I would love to hear how your settling in period went or how it is going.