The task of what to ‘do’ with your child when he/she gets to a certain age is a tricky one. We always thought I would go back to my job in events after 9 months and Rex would then have a nanny until we thought he was old enough to go to nursery, (you know, like 3 or something) but as it started to get closer to the time I started to feel less and less able to do it.
The thought of working nights and weekends (which is often what happens when you’re planning weddings and parties) became a big barrier and although I loved my job, I wanted to be around Rex as much as possible. I met up with my boss who was totally super about it and very understanding of the situation, he and his wife had recently welcomed another baby and so he knew the struggle only too well…take note bosses out there! So after some internal debate (though not that much) I decided I would stay home and keep him all to myself, we would do activities every day and some days we would just curl up and watch movies and everything would be hunky dory and easy peasy…sadly this was not quite reality.
Rex is one of those real boys boys, he storms around the place throwing toys, taking coal out of our fire place and putting it promptly in his mouth, pulling plugs out of their sockets and putting them in his mouth, opening cupboards and smashing glasses and all the while he is either manically laughing or just assuming that smashing things is an extremely important part of his day. On one such occasion, before our house turned into fort knox, I heard a cupboard door open and the tinkling of glassware knocking together, out strolled my one year old son holding two large white wine glasses, “no Rex!” I said locking eyes with him, willing him to gently put them down and step away, instead he stared harder at me as if to challenge me, he then without breaking his stare smashed one of them to the floor, he continued his unbroken stare for a couple of seconds longer just to let me know who was boss and then turned on his heal and promptly walked off with the other glass still in his hand.
What to do with a wilful one year old we asked ourselves, of course I could start packing our days full with classes and playdates and coffee shop meet ups but frankly that just doesn’t float my boat in any way, yes I love the odd class (Rex has a swimming class once a week which is quite literally the best thing ever) and yes I love a good playdate with friends, but all the time? 5 days a week? no thank you! I want some kind of non baby based normality in my life. So we decided we would pack his bags up and ship him off to nursery…its actually about a 4 minute walk away and he only goes 3 mornings a week, but still.
Now I naively thought that starting nursery would be a breeze for my independently spirited and strong willed little boy, but I suppose sometimes we forget how little, little people actually are. We started settling in week full of gusto, you go in everyday with your child for an hour and slowly leave them for more and more time alone until the last day when you leave them for 2.5 hours and for lunch. Day one couldn’t have gone any better, leaving me in an extremely false sense of security, as the week drew on, the tears came. The more I left him, the more he would cry, meaning that settling in week became settling in 2 weeks. Then when his actual first full day of nursery came he had picked up a vile stomach bug and given it to me also so that was week one out the window and spent firmly at home. Once the stomach bug had passed it was onto a big bout of flu.
Once we finally started it took a good two weeks until I dropped him off without an emotional breakdown ensuing, after trying various different things I had a light bulb moment, much like my husband, food is my sons weak spot, so as we got to the gates I started chanting (in my best Buddhist monk tone) “breakfast” the change was quite literally immediate the tears would stop and that confused smile/cry would start which would then turn into a fully fledged beaming smile, which would then turn to literally shaking with excitement, like I had just given him the winning lottery numbers.
Now he strolls in, pulls out one of the chairs belonging to the toddlers and sits down impatiently ready for breakfast to be served. He is waited on hand and foot, and I’m told doesn’t move from this spot for a good half hour until he has eaten them clean. Now whilst that is great, I’m not sure he has had one single day in the two months since he started where he has been completely well (I was convinced this would not happen to us, Rex wasn’t ill even once before nursery), there is the constant running nose the hacking smokers style cough, he’s had conjunctivitis, upset tummy, temperatures blah blah blah – I genuinely think a hazard suit for children would be a million dollar idea.
With that, a little tip if I may give one – anyone who has a baby and is thinking of going back to work and wants to put said child in nursery, get your child into nursery at least a month before you go back to work, otherwise you are going to be awkwardly telling your boss you’re going to have to go home early and pick up your sickly child every other day.
I know I’ve probably sounded a bit on the negative side, but once you’re past the sickness and the sadness, honestly its the best decision we ever made. Rex LOVES it, every day he comes home having learnt something new and the women that work there (or at any nursery) are quite simply incredible, anyone that can look after multiple tiny children all day and keep them safe and feeling loved, happy, clean(ish) and fed should be praised and acknowledged but sadly I think most of the time these amazing people fall into the category of ‘unsung heroes’.