Nursery – Head vs Heart

September 20, 2020Alex Davison

So, Nursery, we have avoided talking about this for the past few week as it hasn’t turned out as we originally planned and we have felt a little down about it and a bit like we have failed. The Girly turned two in May and just like our Boy we wanted her to start nursery in the September after her second birthday, as our only experience of this was extremely positive with him. Our boy was also starting year one at the same time so we were really preparing for the next stage in both their little lives. We had been very careful when we were selecting which nursery, we felt the she would enjoy the most, and of course going with our gut feelings. For myself, I knew months before I was going to struggle with the process and have admitted this on an Instagram post recently that although we completely understand that we shouldn’t treat them differently but I did feel more anxious as she is my baby girl.

Despite how we felt about it all, we knew how much our son came on and loved being at nursery so this was always going to be the plan. When we did decide on one and signed her up it was a couple of months before the dreaded coronavirus and at the time there were no restrictions at all, she attended a taster session early on and loved it so we put it to the back of our minds as she wasn’t starting until September which was seven months away.

I don’t want to go into the details of our own lockdown experience but we did try our best to keep things as normal as possible, but realistically their little social lives had been taken away and we were all they had. We know our children are very lucky to be able to attend the all the classes they did before the lockdown, but it was out way of ensuring they have social interaction with other kids. A normal week for the girly was Baby Ballet, Sing and Sign, Soft Play and Toddler sensory, as well as the two days she was looked after by both sets of grandparents and doted on for the whole day. Weekends we always try our best to be as active as possible and let them experience all that they can and this was all stripped away from them. We are extremely proud of how they both dealt with isolation, social distancing and the genuine no routine but little did we know how affected they were and especially the Girly. It’s only recently that me and Rich have said how hard it must have been and still is, even though it’s now a lot less strict on some things.

Fast forwarding to these last couple of weeks and if you watch our Instagram stories you will already know how hard it was for me letting go after having them both home 24/7, but the Girly had four two-hour sessions booked before she started her normal routine which was a full day on Thursdays and a half day on Fridays. Due to social distancing only one of us could take her to the first settling in session, wear a mask and stay in the outside area which we totally understand and didn’t have a problem with. The nursery staff were all so professional and working to the book and we couldn’t fault them. I always say “go with your gut feeling” and on this first session I didn’t do this, as I didn’t think she or I was ready but deep down knew in my head this was the right thing to do. We were in an outside area and the girly went off to play with all the toys and climbing equipment and was loving it, I was filling out last minute paperwork which was all about what she likes and doesn’t like, so they could refer to this if she was ever upset. I finished filling out the information and the girly was playing really well and wasn’t upset in the slightest, in fact she was loving and I cannot fault the staff as they are the experts but as she was doing really well they suggested I leave and come back as she was doing so well. This was unexpected for me, but I felt it made sense so went along with it. Although, I made a huge error, I didn’t say goodbye and instead did as I was advised to just slip out as she was happily playing. I agreed and as I walked to the nearby town, I knew that wasn’t the right way to leave her and that I should have said goodbye to her like I always do when I drop her at her grandparents on the way to work.

After about twenty anxious minutes I returned to pick her up, again I waiting in reception with my mask on and I could hear her crying so I knew it hadn’t gone well. The staff explained that she was fine playing but when it was lunchtime and they all had to come inside from the garden, she started to get upset and was clearly looking for me. The one thing I cannot stand is not being able to explain why something is happening to them, I was the same with the boy and I am the same with her, maybe even worse. If I could have explained the concept of nursery and that I would never in a million years leave her then I would, but she doesn’t understand and that is what upsets me the most, as I just left her there. She did calm down once she was in familiar surroundings of the car and after a cuddle and reassurance, so I put it down to first day nerves and we headed home, knowing that it should improve with time.

It was now the weekend and life for her was normal again she was back to her sassy little self. Come Monday morning, I was dropping her off at nursery with the boy and then taking him to get his feet measured for his new school shoes. I tried to put the situation to the back of my mind all weekend but deep down I knew it wasn’t going to go well. The boy held her hand as we walked to the main door which we opened and went through all fine, a staff member came to greet us and she started crying, so I agreed for her keyworker to pick her up and take her in, thinking I was going the right thing. Lots of people have advised us that this is normal but it doesn’t stop you feeling completely devastated and so guilty. Me and the boy left and I was holding back tears so he didn’t pick up it, so I just started to get excited about going for a hot chocolate with him and getting everything done. I drove about fifteen minutes down the road and my phone rang, “Hi Lewis, your daughter has been sick three times and is very upset, I think you need to come back”, my heart sank and we both headed back straight away. She is never sick from being upset, she does have her tantrums but not like this and I’ve never seen her so upset when I got there. She clung to me and was gripping my t shirt and not letting go for anything. The nursery staff explained that she was upset the whole time and wasn’t calming down so they felt best to call me back, again I have to say that the staff were really nice and professional, especially based on the current new covid guidelines they are all trying to get used too.

Again, she calmed down on the way home and once back indoors she was her normal self like nothing had ever happened. I explained what happened to Rich and said I cannot take her in tomorrow as its really upsetting so much, I just cannot take seeing her that way. Rich agreed, called the nursery and told them he would be coming in everyday but staying with her so she can start enjoying the activities with him there, until she got used to it. Perfect, I thought to myself and like always if one of us isn’t happy the other one takes over, its just the way we work. I would take the boy shopping for his back to school stuff while Rich went with the girly for her next settling in session.

The next day Rich left with the Girly who was fine and happy, I was dreading it but keeping cool as I didn’t want her to pick up on anything I was feeling, hence why Rich was now taking her. The two hours dragged and as Rich couldn’t use his phone in the building, I had no way on knowing what was happening. Eventually Rich called me on the way home to say it was awful and that he really struggled seeing the girly so upset, even with Rich there she was still inconsolable which is not like her at all. She was still calming down when Rich got back but when she saw me, she burst into tears again for a good ten minutes. I held her tight and just comforted her until the tears had stopped and my heart was breaking, in fact it was broken. All due to that little mistake of not saying bye on the first day. We were posting Instagram stories during these days and lots of lovely followers were giving us great advice on how this is normal and she will get there which was reassuring as we have never dealt with this with our boy, as he was literally the opposite.

The next day the exact same thing happened, Rich stayed with her and she was even worse to the point that Rich left after thirty minutes of being there. Once she had calmed down, we took them out for the day only going for a walk in the woods just us five to take her mind of it which it did and we decided that we would talk about it later that evening once they were both a sleep. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world, however no one knows your child better than you do and you should always remember that. We know what works for some children won’t work for others and we would never let what other parents think about our decisions affect us at all and we would also never try to do the same, as we are living proof that no two children are the same as ours have had a completely different experience.

After a long chat we both agreed that this year has been tough, probably more so for the children than we had realised. For the past six months all she has known is us and we cannot expect her to just be able to deal with it now lock down restrictions have been lifted slightly. Our gut feeling is to remove her from the situation and work on building up to nursery again next year, which is when she is officially due to start and not us pushing things too early when we don’t actually need her to go. This may seem like a parent fail in some people’s eyes and that we are not sticking with it, but we know her best and this is the right decision for her and us. I have instead signed her up to three classes in the week to help rebuild her confidence with others outside the family and we know she will need to be put in situations where me and Rich are not there, but really there is no rush.

We made this decision last week but haven’t spoken about it until now and it really does feel like a dark cloud has gone and we can now concentrate on what she needs, which is her family. Hopefully being honest about this situation may help any other parents who are going through the same unexpected experience, we all have a vision of what being a parent is like and it is really hard work, but as long as you are doing the best you can truly for them, then you cannot go wrong. There isn’t a rule book or a manual, most of the time it will be a toss between head and heart and this time the heart has won.

Girly, we love you more than words could describe so don’t you worry, you take all the time you need, we will all be right behind you xx

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