Why I “Broke Up” With My Son’s Nursery In Week One

Jessica with her son Rufus
Jessica with her son Rufus
"It really was a break up and it involved a lot of 'it's not you it's me' all of which were absolutely true." Jessica Fordham explains why she pulled her son out of nursery in week one.

I could (I think) deal with tears at drop off but there are none. What I can’t deal with are the tears that come when I pick him up at the end of the day. Big fat proper tears.

As though he’s bravely been holding them in all day, not sure if I’m coming back for him or not. I’m sure he’s fine really, but I’m not and that’s why I’ve quit nursery after one week. I say quit, what I mean is given the required six weeks notice and gritted my teeth.

It’s a lovely nursery and I know lots of parents who’s children love it. I also hope that he’ll return but not until he’s (I’ve?) had a year or two to get a bit tougher.

It didn’t start well. An unexpected offer of work that I couldn’t turn down came a couple of months before I was planning on returning. Three days a week and much of it from home.

Rufus is a very happy baby who, thanks to two adoring big (half) sisters is used to being passed around like the house pet. I told myself that it would be good for him and that he was getting bored of hanging out with me every day so signed him up to start early in the nursery I’d already chosen.

Settling in day one.  At 8 months Rufus is showing no signs of crawling. All the other babies were bigger than him and crawling or walking around the room like little giants.

As he sat there happily bashing himself in the face with a tambourine one of these mobile tyrants came up and shook a maraca under his nose before snatching it away just as he went to grab it.

Rufus didn’t even notice and carried on hitting himself. Even if he had noticed he would probably have thought it was a hilarious game but I had a lump in my throat.

It was ridiculous  but I suddenly felt like he was the little boy in the playground being told he couldn’t join in the game.

I feel I need to point out at this moment that I’m not a psycho mother. I think if anything I’m fairly relaxed bordering on negligent at times and I was taken completely by surprise by how I felt.

He was in a safe and caring nursery full of very sweet little toddling babies and yet I felt as though I was leaving my baby in a pot on the side of a Greek mountain to be eaten by lions.

I went outside to do the only thing one can do in these situations – have a cry and call my mum. She gave me exactly the right advice i.e. none but simply listened to my incoherent ramblings.

Settling in Day 2 went slightly better and I felt ready for his first proper afternoon the following day. He didn’t. He woke up with conjunctivitis. Of course he did.

Having seen the doctor and got the eye drops I took him in to nursery suppressing any feelings of guilt because there was no way I could miss my first day, especially as it involved being trained by two people who had travelled from Manchester especially.

They took one look at his poor gunky face and said sorry but no way. I think the look on my face said it all and they agreed to have him for three hours which was the minimum I needed.

The irony was not lost on me. He had (presumably) caught conjunctivitis from the nursery and then having done so was banned from whence it came.

Several phone calls from the nursery in those few hours I was at work and I was done.

I knew I’d made a massive mistake but I wasn’t sure how to undo it.

I’d accepted the job after all and I did want to work a few days a week. I just didn’t want to feel like an awful mother whilst doing so.

So it was that less than a week after he started I ‘broke up’ with the nursery. It really was a break up and it involved a lot of ‘it’s not you it’s me’ all of which were absolutely true.

I’m sure some will say I should have given it longer, others will say that 8 months old is too young for nursery.

The point, I suppose, is that I would never have known until I tried.

I still don’t really know; perhaps a nanny share, perhaps a childminder, perhaps not working.

Just as in all aspects of parenting (as I am quickly learning) there is no right or wrong, there is just a parent, a child and a unique relationship.

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