(unrelated pictures but thought this amount of text needed some pretty images)

I've been meaning to write for a while about our nursery journey and with one thing or another I sort of forgot. Now nursery is so part of ours lives it didn't seem much like news anymore but if anything I'd like to record for my own memory. I'm so often finding people ask me about things that we experienced only last year and they are already a bit of a haze. You always think you will remember everything and you know, I can't even remember what Wilf's first word was!

My return to work was quite sudden, although I had been doing bits and bobs of freelance work since Wilf was about four months old. I was approached with a job offer of a 20 hour a week freelance role when Wilf was around 17 months old. It was an immediate start so for the first two weeks I balanced my work with Wilf at home still, working in his naps, evening's and weekends. I was still trying to manage Skype meetings with Dora The Explorer in the background, replying to emails whilst trying to distract Wilf and it felt awful. I wasn't giving him the attention he needed, I didn't want Netflix to be his babysitter and I felt stressed all the time.

I knew then that I needed to look into childcare. Initially I disregarded the idea of Nursery at all, thinking a childminder would be the better option. We even looked in a nanny (who was fantastic but too expensive an option with just one child). Although I think childminders are brilliant, for some reason after visiting I still felt very unsure. I booked a visit at the nursery with no expectation of liking it and in-fact wondering if I should just give up my new job instead.

It's funny how things happen, as soon as I saw Wilf's room I felt completely sure that that was the best place for him. I felt totally at ease with his key worker and although she unfortunately did leave a short while a go (one downside of Nursery) I will be eternally grateful for how she helped us settle in and for caring for Wilf so well.

We are lucky that he is in a very small class (around 6-8 children) with three key-workers. It took him only a week to settle (although I did cry every day). It was harder for me I think than him but they were so kind and very understanding when I called four times to check in on the first day! He really thrives there and it has been such a great move for us.

Whilst I originally thought I would stay home with Wilf until school I have found that as a family we are so much happier having a little time apart. I have found that I have felt more refreshed being able to work on projects that don't involving 'mummy-ing'. I have conversation to chat to Tom about that isn't just about what I did with Wilf that day (which is of course interesting but one coffee shop, park or friends house quickly becomes another ;). Wilf has his own little life away from us a few days a week and he tells me the things he did (painting leaves! Circle time! played with Alfie and trucks mummy!').

After a few months my job took a short break and I used this time to launch my online shop. If it wasn't for my initial freelance work I would never have made the jump into childcare and have had time I needed to launch my shop. Instead of returning to that line of work Tom and I spoke about how this could be the opportunity I needed to really make a go of being a shop owner and business lady, (ha!) and if I didn't try now then when would I?

We are lucky/unlucky enough to have a lot of help towards our childcare with working tax credits, so although we are not quite making two peoples incomes (far from it) we have enough to cover childcare and put a little back into the shop each month. I'm hoping that the 'slow and steady' route will mean that this time next year we will have built up the business well enough to be really succeeding.

It's been a great move for us, I feel beyond lucky with the situation we are in.

How did you find childcare? I'd love to hear your experiences!


Mummy Glitzer said...

Harry went into pre-school at Easter and it was horrible and stressful for us all at first. We did as due to our circumstances at the time and my health, we all (myself, husband and all the numerous professionals involved in our lives) felt it would be in his best interests. It took a good six weeks of adjusting hours, changing sessions, staying with him, being in another room just in case and all sorts. I was so close to pulling him out altogether. That said, I am so glad I did not as once that six weeks was over he loved it. When we moved he had to wait four weeks before starting at the pre-school that is attached to the local primary academy and that definitely had a negative impact. Although there were tears on his first day at his new pre-school, on the second (and every day since!) he has happily run off as soon as he hangs up his coat!

mummydaddyme said...

This is a really interesting post thanks Fritha. I went back to work after Mads was born for three days a week but we were incredibly lucky that family and friends looked after her so we didn't have to put her into any sort of childcare.
Now after the birth of LL, we are now in a position that come January Mads will go as she turns three and will get the government three hours, but also LL will go 2 mornings a week as well. I am trying to concentrate on freelance work and it is just impossible as they are both being little pickle's when it comes to nap times. I would rather have two long mornings away from them to get things done so that i can give them my full attention when we are together.
I have to admit I am incredibly nervous which I know is silly because some children a lot younger than LL will go 5 days a week, but as neither of my girls have been in childcare, I am nervous for them both.
I am sure that they will end up loving it though. x

Katherine said...

We currently share childcare, my husband condensed his hours down to 3 days, and uses bits of annual leave, so he can look after our boy on the two days I work. Next year he will go back up to 4 days and we will use a childminder one day a week, I'm a little nervous about this, not because of the childminder, she is lovely, but because he may find it harder to settle just being in one day a week. Who knows though, it's a few months off and he may take to it well. We can't really afford to send him for another day though. We are both lucky that our employers (civil and public sector) are very flexible and family-friendly.

Josie said...

Aw, so pleased things are working out well for you. Always important for mamas to have a little head space time to do their own thing I think. Amelie's going to a montessori nursery round the corner from us for 2 mornings a week when she's 2 (as that was the only time they had space) so we'll have to see how that goes!

Globalmouse said...

Such a great post. Childcare is so often filled with guilt so it's great it's working out so well for you. I think a bit of time out for everyone is such a good thing...well, it has always worked for me. There's still guilt but i think there always is no matter what! And I LOVE your shop!! x

fritha strickland said...

thanks Nichola! And yes I totally agree it is so often filled with guilt! I've even found myself justifying the age Wilf was when he started (almost 18 months) to people which is so silly! It's been a great move for all of us, we've even said if I wasn't working we would try and keep him in for one day as he really thrives there and would be upset not to go. Ahh thank you so much and thanks for your support! xx

fritha strickland said...

I love Montessori teachings, my mum is a trained Montessori teacher :) There are a couple in Bristol I think but are on the complete other side of town to us. It's unfortunate that they tend to be a bit pricey too! I'm sure Amelie will absolutely love it! I totally agree, I think it is important to have that breathing space. I always start to get really excited to see Wilf again a couple of hours before I pick him up and he runs into my arms and then takes my hand to show me all the things he did that day! xx

fritha strickland said...

that sounds like such a great system! I know Tom was really eager to see if he could drop down to 4 days but unfortunately it wasn't an option in the end. I'm sure he will love the childminder and I'm sure one day will be fine, I think it's tricky when it's maybe like one morning a week but a full day sounds like a great amount of time. It's so great to hear both your employers are flexible, makes all the difference! x

fritha strickland said...

that exactly how I felt (about giving full attention) I just felt like trying to freelance with Wilf at home meant I was never giving him that which wasn't fair on anyone. I think your plan for childcare sounds perfect! I must admit I do sometimes feel envious of people with family close by but then that's our choice for moving away ha! I'm sure they will both do brilliantly and like you say some start much younger. I remember saying to a group of friends that maybe Wilf was too young at 18m and one laughed at me as she was about to put her 6 month into childcare and thought I was being a bit silly. ! think it's hard for everyone at first and everyone is different but you all adjust so quickly (in our experience) good luck! xx

fritha strickland said...

that's so good to hear, I can imagine it being so hard if they take a while to settle. I know we were really lucky with how quickly Wilf did (they did say it had taken one child three months, but that was because he was only doing a morning a week). So glad he loves it now! x

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