How to survive the first nursery drop off

It wasn’t the greatest start to our first day at nursery. My son smelled a rat as soon as we reached the wrought iron gates.

“Up with mummy!” he cries as we walk in. A little friend, also a first-timer, who lives down our road, rushes up for a bear hug and they both crash to the ground. Tears and snotty noses ensue all round, myself included.

Blame sleep deprivation, the hormones, whatever, I am wracked with maternal guilt.

Yes, he’s been to playgroups, read the ‘right’ books (The Kissing Hand, and Pirate Pete Goes to Nursery), but this is the first time I have left him in the care of strangers for an extended period. Blame sleep deprivation, the hormones, whatever, I am wracked with maternal guilt.

He senses this immediately of course and does not want me to leave, so I stay a while, feeling like the nightmare hovering mother. But luckily I am not the only one.

But day two is a different story. Instead of clinging to my leg, he rushes straight to the train set. I leave him for an hour on the nursery teacher’s suggestion and come back to a slightly grumpy, but not miserable, boy. Of course it’s not plain sailing over the next few weeks – a few tears, some stalking me to the gate, but soon he is just asking for one more kiss before waving me goodbye. A month in and he does not want to leave.

Here’s what I learned from the brilliant staff at my son’s nursery:

Keep your game face on

Stay positive and breezy. If you make them feel insecure, they will immediately pick up this up. They can read your body language, even at this young age, so keep your shoulders back, a confident pose, relax your face muscles. Chilled out, confident mum = chilled out, confident child.

Keep it short and sweet

When you leave them for the first time, keep it short and sweet. And don’t, whatever you do, say: “Is it ok if I go now?” Just tell them you are off and wave goodbye. If they are being really clingy, say you are just popping to the shop/café/bank and will come back at get them straight afterwards. This worked wonders for me; my son now orders me to go the shop and he will see me later.

Safety in numbers

If you are lucky enough to have a friend’s child attending the same nursery, travel together on the first day. Treat it as a jolly jaunt or a glorified playgroup, which at the end of the day, is all it really is.

Don’t rise to any tantrums

Keep calm, and try your usual bribe (hopefully whispered loud enough for them to hear, but not the teachers or perfectly groomed mother rising her eyebrow in the next room). Whatever anyone says, bribery always works wonders.

Ignore all the above

Instead, channel your inner Home Counties mum from the 1950s. The little blighters have never had it so easy. Drop them off and head for the hills. Or just let dad deal with it next time.

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