Putting your child into childcare

8 January 2020

Leaving your baby at nursery or with a childminder whilst you try and focus on and do eight hours of work is no mean feat. Most mums return to work after nine months of maternity leave and every mum will tell you that it feels too soon, most mums won't admit that it also comes with a sense of excitement for the opportunity to talk to adults, do something that isn't singing nursery rhymes on repeat, cleaning endless babygrows and having an actual reason to get dressed but this feeling is soon overshadowed by thoughts of ''am I a bad mum for leaving him/her" and "will I still be able to do my job".

Forever a sucker for a challenge, I thought it'd be a good idea to not only return to work but to move half way up the country and start and entirely new job, with new people and have to pretend that I'm a mature and responsible adult (didn't last long). Fortunately, moving back to my hometown meant that choosing a childcare setting was a no-brainer - a family friend owns a setting, the staff are also family friends, their kids as well as Fred's cousins attend and knowing that he would be spending 30 odd hours a week with people I know eased the expected concerns about leaving my baby for the first time. By nine months Fred should've been well into weaning but my fears of him choking meant that he was still eating properly blended food, giving him toast in the morning set me on edge and it wasn't a nice experience for either us, no one wants to eat their breakfast with their Mum and inch from their face, staring at them. The setting asked what he liked to eat, my response was "I don't know", they asked if he had any allergies...I didn't know. They asked what his routine was at home - I told them to fit him into their routine as he's spending most of his time there. The reality soon hit that these people would grow to essentially know my child better than me and they're not just his childminders, they're his people. 

Four months into starting nursery we attended Fred's big cousin's birthday, lots of kids from nursery were there including the staff. When it came to eating, I shoved Fred in the highchair like a good Mum who knows what she's doing and then started at the food - I didn't have a clue what he could and couldn't eat, I'd never given him a sandwich or proper crisps and I'd never let him just sit and eat without feeling nervous. Instinctively, I looked over at his childminder and asked her what my child liked, what he could eat and how to give it to him without hesitation, she came over with a plate of food for Fred and my mind was blown not only by the fact that he could chomp on a fairy cake without issues but at how calm and collected the childminder was when feeding him - weaning babies is second nature to her, she's trained in baby first aid, she knows what he likes and how he eats and where people may think I should've felt shame or guilt for being so inept at feeding my kid, I felt relief and pride that the areas where I was struggling at mum-stuff were compensated by the care and professionalism he was receiving at nursery (and seemingly outside of nursery).

As with all kids who attend nursery Fred has clocked up a record breaking number of stomach bugs, his nose permanently runs from October - March; last year we had one hospital admission for tonsilitis and decent bout of chickenpox. The relevant policies were enforced and Fred probably spent more of October 2019 at home than he did at nursery but during instances where he was randomly unwell, developing odd rashes after eating and getting a fever for no obvious reason nursery would call me and ask what I they wanted me to do - again I didn't have a clue, I asked them what they thought I should do and Fred was given Calpol or anti-histamine and the staff soon learnt when he was out of sorts and needed sending home or, if he could be comforted by them. Putting my whole trust in the team at his setting has made the whole experience of leaving him an actual pleasure. 

Fred has a whole different life at nursery, he has mates, activities that he likes and dislikes and experiences that I can't give to him at home. More often than not, he comes home completely filthy, covered in mud, food down his top and one time he had purple hair. The bigger the state he comes home in, the more fun I know he's had. I don't care about him getting messy, clothes getting ruined or the bumps and bruises he acquires along the way - I know he's had an absolute blast (and he's usually so knackered from his escapades that bedtime is a dream...literally). The best thing about leaving Fred at nursery is knowing without a doubt that he's loved, he talks about the staff when he's home, his face lights up on Monday mornings when he sees the staff for the first time after the weekend and sometimes at night he's cried out for them and not me - some would assume that this would give me some 'mum guilt' but it doesn't, knowing that he finds comfort in the people that he spends around 32 hours of his week with gives me reassurance more than anything.

The best advice that I can give anyone leaving their children in the care of professionals is to remember that they are professionals, accept that in many ways they will know your child better than you and learn from them. Build a relationship where they're comfortable telling you that your child has been a nightmare and might need an exorcism, keep them up to date with things at home that might affect life at nursery and more importantly never send them in clothes you want to see again or in good condition. 


  1. agree 100%! To me the cost was worthwhile for doing all the crap I HATED about being a "good mum" like painting, baking... you know, all the messy stuff that nuseries do with them. Much rather he make me a macaroni picture to bring home than have to do it myself lol

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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