Goodbye Day care, hello Pre-school

Yep, just when you thought all the ‘starting school / pre school’ posts were done for another year, here’s a latecomer.

Our eldest, TG started her new pre school Wednesday last week. We were surprised it was so late in September so we had been counting down the days, to be honest. It’s  not because I’m a heartless mum who can’t stand being around her kids, but for a number of legitimate reasons…

1. She’s been in childcare 3 days a week since age 1, when I returned to work part time.

2. She’s been in a day nursery 8-5 three days a week since 20 months.

3. She finished doing full days at nursery at the beginning of August, and we have never done ‘term time’ and more importantly, extended holidays before.

4. She’s bored.

5. She’s getting crazy frustrated with her newly mobile baby sister destroying everything she touches. (We all are).

6. She loves nursery, learning, and making friends.

7. Moving her to a school linked pre-school was one of the positives I could see initially about losing my job. I really wanted her to experience the routine and structure of a pre-school, which seemed so different from the crazy coming as and goings of day nursery; different kids on different days all being dropped in and out at every hour of the day. Pre schools and working mums are a tricky combo so it was something we couldn’t consider before I was made redundant.

8. It’s free. Ker-ching.

9. The old nursery felt as if it had been outgrown. More of a holding pen than a nurturing environment for her enquisitive little mind. It could have all changed when she moved up to the pre-school room, but that was a risk I wasn’t sure I wanted to take. There’s just one year until school which means no second chances.

So the day couldn’t come quick enough! We did do the whole tearing ourselves apart in tears thing, but it was just a very long time ago now. No tears this time around! (Although I did feel very emotional the last time I took her to a morning singing group we have been to since she was tiny).

The settling in included a home visit, a coffee morning, a stay-with-her short session, then a short left-on-own session. She coped brilliantly with the new environment and I think the independence probably comes from being used to lots of different care providers from a young age. Those days of feeling awful about leaving her have paid off as she’s such a sociable happy little girl.

I’ve loved seeing her buzz about her new friends, stories she’s been read, games they’ve played, and even soup she’s cooked! And she’s only been there 4 mornings so far.

It seems the bonding process is as much for the parents as the kids, and I feel like I’ve already made a few new friends too. It’s been a baptism of fire experiencing ‘school run’ rush hour. Mum-in-a-rush drivers are quite frankly SUICIDAL!

The clientele of the new pre-school is very different to the private day care nursery. I love the diversity of backgrounds our daughter will mix with now, not just in ethnicity and nationality but she’ll learn about different social backgrounds, language barriers and culture differences. I guess the price tag of the previous nursery meant only working parents with jobs decent enough to pay the monthly bill, would send their children there. Whilst this didn’t discriminate by race, there certainly weren’t any families pulling up in clapped out bangers amongst the Audis, VWs, Quashquais etc in the car park.

It wasn’t that I hated the old nursery, I would definitely consider sending our youngest there if our situation warranted it; it was just that I resented the lack of choice available as a working Mum. And, as TG became older, needing more than  3 square meals, some toys and a nap, I felt there had to be somewhere that better fitted her needs. The mix of agesin her room were so wide, it seemed she was held back by the younger ones somewhat.

We have already had a super cute selection of drawings home, (we never had any from the old nursery) with attempts at writing her own name, and of course her vegetable soup which she made herself for lunch. She’s learnt how to put her own coat on (I had never thought to ask her to?) and hasn’t once shown any hesitation in going every day. So, so far, so good.

It’s been a leveller for my frazzled brain having the mornings to focus on Dangermouse and let her play undisturbed. And Nap, yep a whole hour to myself every morning! (Not sure how much longer that’s going to last though).

It’s going to be a whole different ball game with her though, as I approach the end of my maternity leave with no job to return to. I can’t help but feel massive relief I’m not going through that settling in stage, but I wonder if she’ll end up a delicate little thing, nervous to be away from me?

I also wonder how our new set up will impact my inclination to find another job. I can’t adjust or top up nursery hours to cover a working day, so the only viable option would be a childminder. but, that’s a worry for another day.

To anyone finding it really hard being apart from their toddler as they start pre-school, maybe it’s the first time you’ve been separated, this thought really helped me:

‘In order for your child to grow into an independent, self assured individual, they need time to come away from under the safety of their mothers wing, so that they may become people in their own right; making their first steps into the big wide worx MMT

Best of Worst

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