My biggest baby started nursery! I never wanted to let her go but she's at the age now where she needs something more than me. She's been my little sidekick for 3 years so it's been really strange having time away from her as she's never really been left with anyone before. Ever since she turned two I felt like I was under such a huge pressure to get her into a preschool or a nursery, the health visitors kept asking me, my family kept asking if she was going yet and I didn't understand why. I announced I was pregnant a month after she turned two so maybe that was why? But I didn't feel like she was ready, she was still only little and because I work flexibly from home, there was no reason why I needed anyone to look after her. I was quite capable. I almost felt like it was being suggested that I wasn't doing a good enough job but it wasn't that at all. She just needed something more than me. I left it and left it, I wasn't ready but neither was she. I tried to leave her a few times but she would get so upset when I left and as time went on, we got closer and closer to the arrival of her baby sister. I was under the impression that she would have to start at the next term which would have been September, right when her baby sister was due. I didn't want her to feel pushed out or like I was shipping her off to nursery because I had a new baby now. Not only that, I didn't want her to resent her sister so again I decided against it. Two or three months went by and I was starting to struggle to solo parent a toddler and a newborn whilst my partner worked. On top of that I was breastfeeding and trying to potty train at the same time. It was difficult. She went through a phase of bad behaviour and I thought that maybe the novelty of having a new baby sister had worn off. She would get bored when I was feeding and would trash the place knowing that I couldn't do anything about it because I had a baby on my boob 24/7. It was at this point that I realised, they were right. She needed something more and I needed a break.
In December I contacted the nursery to see if there were any spaces available. I thought there would be a huge waiting list and that she wouldn't be able to start until the next term, but it turns out they're quite flexible and invited me in for a look around almost straight away. I knew as soon as I got there that this was the nursery I wanted her to go to, I didn't even need to look at the others. We took Alyssia with us and she loved playing with the toys so much that she didn't want to leave - this was such a good sign. She had her settling in session the following week, I wasn't sure how it would work and how she would be when I left. Some parents left without saying goodbye because that worked best for them knowing that their little one would get upset at the thought of them leaving but for me I knew I needed to tell her and I had been telling her the night before so she was prepared anyway. She had been asking to go to school but I was still so worried about leaving her as I had never left her with anyone before and I find it quite difficult to trust anyone with my children. I stayed and watched from the side lines for half an hour, I watched her play, watched how the staff were with her and the other children and spoke to some of the staff myself and said that I was worried to leave her. One of the staff told me not to go home and wait around, she said go to town and make yourself busy otherwise you'll sit and watch the clock. She was right, that is exactly what I'd do. They were so good and I felt comfortable leaving her with them so went home to pick up Rob and Isabelle and we went into town and had some lunch. The funniest thing was that when I said goodbye to her and told her that I would come and pick her up in a bit, she was quite happy for me to go. I have no idea why I was so worried!
She had her first full day (4 hours) the week after and this time I was full of anxiety about leaving her, I knew she had done amazing before but it was only for an hour and a half, this time would be 4 whole hours without mummy. The staff were so welcoming towards her and she just slotted in with the other children, they reassured me that if there were any problems, they would ring me so I felt a bit happier with leaving her. I tried to make myself busy and didn't quite know what to do with my time but Isabelle kept me on my feet and before I knew it, it was time to pick her up. The smile on her face when she saw me was unreal, she was happy to come home but I knew she had had such a good day. I was shown some photo's of her playing outside and she looked so happy and content. It took around 2 weeks before I think she fully settled in and now shes been there for nearly three months. She has learnt so much already, she's talking more, she's counting, she's singing songs, she has friends and most of all she is so happy. She talks about the ladies at nursery all the time and is always so excited to go. I know I've made the right decision by sending her there. They've been great with potty training too which is one thing that I was worried about. Some preschools/nurseries in the area don't take children until they are 3 and potty trained, I was worried because when she started she was just a couple of months off turning three and wasn't quite ready yet. Shes been asking/telling me for months that she needs the toilet but has only recently come out of her shell enough to tell other people. I reassured her and told her that she can tell the ladies at nursery if she needs the toilet and she has been, I'm so glad because its clear to me that she trusts them. At first she went 2 days a week for 4 hours (8 hours a week) but now that she is 3 she is entitled to 15 hours free so she is now going 3 days a week. I'm so happy with the decision I've made and am so glad I've waited until she was nearly 3 to do it, it's meant that we got to spend the whole summer together before Isabelle arrived and when she was born, she was given that time to bond with her new sister. Now she gets a break from us, and some independence of her own.
If you're wondering whether or not to send your toddler to a nursery, my advice would be to go & look around, choose your nursery and then just go for it. As I said, I knew straight away which nursery I wanted her to go to. You'll just get that feeling. Sending her to nursery could potentially be the best thing I've ever done for her, she is learning so much! I can't thank the nursery staff enough for what they do for us!