Deciding To Send Toddler L To Nursery

We were driving home the other day and the topic of sending Toddler L to nursery / preschool came up. It’s something we’ve talked about previously, but it’s not been properly considered until now. The plan was always to send her to nursery, but this was going to be in the future – probably as she approached three and when the free childcare kicked in. Recent developments though has seen us not only reconsider this approach, but actually enrol her at a local nursery.

It’s been something that’s crossed my mind a few times over the last month, so the discussion was timely. It all stemmed from the fact that I’ve been really busy blog and work-wise. I may call myself a stay-at-home dad, but I’m also a freelance writer – blog and other – which I fit around looking after the sprog. I guess, that makes me some kind of weird work-at-home / stay-at-home hybrid. But, I prefer ‘Dave’.

Anyway, as the blog has taken off more than I ever imagined it would, I’m regularly working with brands as a form of income, be it things for the blog or other ventures. My aim when setting up the blog was to monetise it, but I didn’t think it would come as hard and fast as it has. I’m not complaining – quite the opposite – but obviously an increased workload hinders my ‘main job’, namely looking after Toddler L.

Peppa Pig on TV? Check. Cushion? Check. Blanket? Check. Daddy as a chair? Check. Comfy? Totally!

A photo posted by The DADventurer (Dave) (@the_dadventurer) on

Recently, I’ve found myself struggling with it all. There’s just not enough hours in the day to ensure I hit all my deadlines whilst continuing to entertain Toddler L. As such, I’ve found myself staying up late to finish stuff, doing more work during the day instead of spending time with my daughter, and, most worryingly, getting annoyed at her more frequently as I try to multi-task. It felt like I was doing a full-time job and a part-time job at the same time. Something had to give.

So, the conversation of nurseries and preschools came up. The missus and I talked about it and could only really see positives in starting her part-time. In theory, Toddler L will get the chance to socialise, learn and develop in a structured environment which will ready her for school. When she’s at nursery, I’ll have a few child-free hours in order to get my head down and crack on with stuff I need to do with the blog or around the house. Thus, the time we do have together should be of better quality as I can focus on her rather than other stuff. On paper, it’s win win, if not win win win.

But, I have something nagging somewhere in the back of my head. I’ve written about it before, but I think it’s parenting guilt rearing it’s ugly head again. I haven’t been able to fully put my finger on it, but I think that my uneasiness surrounds a couple of points. I’m hoping to find further clarity as to what these are as I elaborate below…

  • Firstly, I feel a bit like I’m letting us down as a family. The missus goes to work full-time and it was my ‘job’ to look after Toddler L full-time. The fact that I’m shipping her off to nursery makes me feel like I’ve failed to uphold my side of the agreement. Have I failed us?
  • Secondly, there’s a loss of control. Toddler L has spent all of her life with me there, particularly the last 18 months with me as a stay-at-home dad. The person she is and the person she’s becoming is hugely down to my influence. Allowing new people into her life to ‘take over’ from me is a bit of a weird sensation. Will it change or impact her as a person?
  • Thirdly, I feel a bit bad that I’ve not made the most of my time with her. Should I have played more? Should we have gone out more? Why was I so focused on replying with incredible wit to those tweets at her expense? The saying ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ kind of springs to mind.

That was therapeutic – sometimes properly thinking about stuff and writing it down really does help! Anyway, I digress…

Don’t get me wrong, I know the above three points are stupid. Yes, there’s obviously a truth to each of them, but I know (1) I’m not letting us down, in fact, it’s the opposite due to bringing in income / opportunities through the blog, (2) her spending time with others and me letting go isn’t a bad thing, and (3) she’s hardly abandoned and I’d probably feel like I should be doing more even if I gave her my undivided attention 24/7.

So where does that leave us? Well, we visited a local nursery, liked it, thought about it some more, then signed her up. She’ll be doing one full day and one half day each week, which we think is a good length of time apart. Last week, she had three settling in sessions and in the morning – as I’m writing this after midnight – she’ll start nursery properly.

The settling in sessions didn’t quite go as well as I’d have hoped. They may be called ‘settling’, but she’s anything but at the moment. Despite fearing that she hates me, it turns out that my daughter must like me as she was quite clingy. I stayed with her for the first session and she enjoyed playing, safe in the knowledge that I was in the room.

During the second session, I tried to put a bit of distance between us, such as standing at the door. However, she went from being happy to crying to being happy to crying on such a regular basis that I assumed that she was already suffering from PMT. Her nursery experience wasn’t helped when a bastard wasp stung her on the neck when she was happily playing outside. What a dick thing to do.

The third session was the difficult one. I dropped her off, said bye and left her crying. Being the resilient, confident kid she is, I expected that I’d return to a happy kid. However, when I turned up, she was still crying and had done for the entire hour. The only time she’d stopped was to ask for some water, which I was informed that she did with a ‘pwease’ and ‘fanks’. All in all, not the greatest of settling in periods.

The sad face of a dad in an empty car after leaving his crying daughter at preschool for the first time…

A photo posted by The DADventurer (Dave) (@the_dadventurer) on

As such, I’m not quite sure what will happen tomorrow. I’m expecting tears – probably from us both – but I know that she’ll settle sooner or later. She just needs to get used to the routine change. I’m sure I’ll keep you updated on our nursery journey over the next few weeks. Particularly as I’ll have more time to write!

What’s your experiences of sending your kids to nursery? What age did they go, if they did at all? How did your preschoolers settle at nursery? Let me know below!

  • Lisa

    Zach was one when he started nursery. He was already going to my mum’s 3 days a week and I’d been using my annual leave to have an extra day off work so he only went one day a week. It did take quite a while to settle, I think because it was only one day and so it took a while to get used to it. There were lots of tears but he did get used to it so you need to be brave and persevere. He is at a different nursery now twice a week and he loves it, even if he tells me otherwise! I think nursery is brilliant for them – for so many different reasons. I love seeing him with his little pals!! I hope it’s going OK and that the tears become less.

  • This is something that I have also struggled with. The feelings of guilt are normal but social interaction is a huge part of a child’s cognitive development.

    With my son, I have the whole nursery thing crash and burn http://wp.me/p7i17j-k and later be a flourishing success http://wp.me/p7i17j-2C . I think finding the right institution is imperative and this had a LOT to do with how The Boy took to the whole thing. Waiting another year probably had a big impact as well. I didn’t HAVE to send him – strictly speaking – but was conscious of the fact that he wasn’t always getting the stimulation he needed. By waiting another year he wasn’t only ready to go from a cognitive position but was also far more emotionally robust.

    Plus it always helps when the teachers actually listen to him!

    TJA / Land of the Dad

  • Ah. I didn’t realise you’d already done the first and second sessions when we chatted last week – I thought you’d just gone straight into the hour leaving.

    Unfortunately I can’t really advise much as T only had one session before starting (and that was with me) as he promptly caught a stomach bug from one of the kids so couldn’t do any more! He also started when he was one so completely different developmentally. I think I was just very lucky that T settled without any issues – just shows what he thinks of me!

    Is L attached to anything at home like a toy or blanky that she could take with her?

    Like you said, L is super confident and I’m sure once she finds some familiarities she’ll settle. It’ll just take some time.
    She’s a smart cookie and has lost “control” at nursery – she’s had you 100% of the time for the past 2 years. Nursery is going to be a huge shock.

    I know it’s hard, and I get the guilt, but circumstances change. You didn’t know you would hit it off so quick with the blog, therefore things have to adapt with that if you want to suceed/get new opportunities for you as a family. It’s not “neglect”, it’s adapting. If you left her with a bowl of food and a hamster wheel whilst you blogged then THAT would be neglect 😉

    I can only see nursery as a positive. The amount of things T has learnt in the last few months is incredible. He’s really social and he’s learnt a few words. There’s just something about it that teaches what I can’t. It’s the best thing we did.

    I hope things get better over the next few weeks. Best of luck with all the bugs and illnesses she’ll catch over the next few weeks.

    Wow. Sorry for the essay.

    Kate. X

  • I totally think you’re doing the right thing. Professionally I can tell you that apron strings are easier cut low than when she starts Reception at 4.
    I know exactly where you’re at with the whole stay at a home / work at home parent. I blog pretty much full time, teach two days a week and then take on the role of stay at parent. The one day a week child care that I have booked when I’m not teaching is worth gold!

  • RachelSwirl

    Give it time and she will settle, I think you are doing the right thing as there are only so many hours in the day and sometimes something has to give.

  • Newcastle Family Life

    How is she finding it now? J is the same age as Toddler L ( give or take a few days) and he started at the local pre-school four mornings a week, about a month ago. He was a bit unsure at first but now he loves it. Totally felt all the guilt you do but he loves it and is happy and as selfish as it sounds it is nice to have a couple of hours break from him and give him my undivided attention when he is home.