Whatever your reasons for going back to work, it’s likely you’ll be feeling guilty at the prospect of putting your baby into nursery for most of the week.
My eldest was in nursery four days a week and with my parents one day a week – which saved us bags of cash at the time.
I remember frantically Googling “sending baby to nursery full-time, feeling so guilty” and find loads of mums feeling similarly upset at the thought.
For me it was a combined worry of missing out on huge bits of her life and having someone else spending more time with her than me.
It was hard those first few weeks. But it did get easier. So much so that even when I went back in maternity leave with my second baby, I still kept my eldest in nursery two days a week.
Now they will both be heading to nursery three days a week in the new year. This is not because I have anything against full-time nursery. It’s purely a matter of costs!
So having now discovered all of the wonderful benefits of nursery, here are 10 reasons why you shouldn’t feel guilty about sending your baby there full-time:
1. They will be super sociable
Mixing with other kids will be so great for your children in the long and short term.
Taking your child to baby groups is great and definitely valuable, but it’s not the same as having to spend an entire day fighting it out over toys, figuring out how to play with each other and watching how their pals eat food.
It gives them a brilliant head start for beginning school. Plus they can make so many friends at nursery, who they may even end up at school with in a few years’ time if you intend to stay in your area.
2. They get more toys to play with
You probably have a mountain of toys at home, but nurseries have so much more. Our nursery is constantly rotating the toy collections between rooms so that the kids have lots of different things to play with every day.
The room where my youngest is going has a big play kitchen. Plus the outdoor space is brilliant for the kids.
3. The messy play won’t be in your home
Do you fancy sitting your baby down with a big tray of shaving foam, rice, pasta or jelly and just letting them go crazy in the middle of your living room? Nope? Didn’t think so!
Nurseries are all about the messy play. They have the facilities for it, they don’t care about the floor getting messy and they are paid to clean it up afterwards.
I don’t mind a bit of messy play at home, but they go way more all out at nursery.
4. The crying stops five minutes after you’ve left them
The crying, clinging and screaming at drop-off time is absolutely heartbreaking and does make the guilt worse.
However every time this has happened, I’ve tried to just leave as quickly as possible. This is because within five minutes of me going she will have forgotten she was upset and start playing.
I always call to check everything is ok if it has been an emotional drop-off and the nursery is happy to tell me if she’s recovered.
Sometimes this can happen in phases where it seems to be every single drop-off is bad for weeks and weeks. Then suddenly it’s ok again. Remember that once they’re distracted, they just get on with playing and then before they know it you’re back again to pick them up.
5. Your child won’t remember spending time at nursery
The fact is we don’t retain much memory at this age. Yes how we are treated as babies and toddlers does set us up for our later years, but if you pick a good and supportive nursery then this shouldn’t be a worry.
Some people say nursery is damaging. It has not damaged my eldest at all. She is a bright, loving and confident little girl who knows her mum and dad love her very much.
6. You still do all of the major parenting stuff
When your child is ill, you will be the one to cuddle them and sing to them. When it’s time for bed, you will be the one the tuck them in. It’s you who will help them cut their birthday cake.
It’s you who will take them on their first holiday. It’s you who will watch them open their Christmas presents.
You are still their parent. Not being with them for part of the day five days a week does not change that at all.
7. They will learn loads
Nursery is not like school. But when your child is mixing with other kids every day you will see them progress way faster.
Watching other kids walk and hearing them talk will just move them along. It encourages them to try things out and practice.
If you pick a good nursery, the staff will be clued up on milestones your child should be hitting and gently encourage them to develop at a comfortable rate for your child.
8. Your family needs a roof over their heads
A single salary just doesn’t cut it these days. With the soaring cost of living, housing and travel, it’s bloody hard to cope on just one wage, even if it is a relatively good one.
If you’re going back to work because you’re the main breadwinner or because you need your salary to keep up with the mortgage, you’re being a good and responsible parent.
9. You will appreciate your family time
When you are with your child the moments you share will be that bit more special.
I love asking my daughter all about her day in the car on the ride home from nursery. These little chats are so adorable and we both laugh a lot.
At weekends you’ll enjoy the children that bit more because you get to spend the entire day with them.
10. More time to work on your career
If you have a job you love, that’s nothing to feel guilty about. You are still a person too and deserve to reach for whatever dream you have.
If anything, you’re giving your child a very positive role model to look up to by being ambitious and driven.
Above all things remember that all new chapters in your life take time to adjust to. Give it a few months and it will become easier. The guilt will ease and you will fall into a work/home life that works for you.
And if after a few months you’re still not happy, you can always revisit your working hours. Get creative and think of alternatives, new jobs or ways to cut back on you budget so you can cut back on hours at work.
Whatever happens, your child will be absolutely fine.
Read tips about settling your child in at nursery to find out how to make the transition easier.
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