Pretty much for the past year and a bit, there have been two days of our week which have been the same routine, week in week out, barring days around Christmas or holidays of course. These two days are Tuesdays and Thursdays- the two days in a week where we set off at 8am from our house and drive 15 minutes up the valley to Little One's nursery. They're the two days in a week where I work from home and run any important errands, the two days where LO gets a bit of a change of scene and the only two days where we are apart from each other for the whole day.
He started going there out of necessity really, I hadn't initially imagined him going to nursery before the age of 1 but as my maternity leave came to an end last June, we enrolled him in in the May to get him settled, again just two days a week. I knew I was going to be leaving my job in teaching but had to go back full time for 8 weeks to fulfil my maternity leave obligations. As it was only 8 weeks, we knew we would be able to sort childcare for the other 3 days with family, plus the two days at nursery. When summer term ended, we decided he enjoyed it so much and was so settled that we continued the same weekly routine of going on a Tuesday and Thursday, which has continued for the past year.
These two days definitely give a focus to our week. We don't usually make many plans and tend to see how the mood takes us most days, but nursery days give us that bit of structure. I think it does us both good to have the discipline of getting out for a certain time, and for the most part, LO gets out of the house with minimal fuss. Normally some random household object such as a mop or a broom will make its way out of the house and into the car with us.
On the whole, he is quite good at being dropped on at the door of nursery too, giving me a kiss and a cuddle and toddling off through the pre-school room and down to the baby room, hand in hand with his key worker, ready to have some breakfast there. But every time I drop him off, I still get a lump in the back of my throat, and a mixed feeling as he says bye bye. I feel so sad leaving him there, but happy that he will have such a lovely varied day full of interesting activities. I always look through the window as I go back to the car and can see that he's happy as can be and ready for a day of exciting things.
But every single time I get back into my car, I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt though- and it's a feeling that has never gone away. I feel bad leaving him behind, then I feel bad if I am not doing any work that day. Perhaps it's because I don't go out to a place of work and work very very part time hours at home, I'm not sure. I know it's so silly but it's a feeling I find hard to overcome. But as many tell me, it's good for him to have a change of scene, to be able to play with other children his age and older, and to interact with other adults. Not to mention doing a whole host of activities which he wouldn't get chance to do at home.
Recently, we have been a bit frustrated with nursery because at nearly age 2, he was still in the baby room rather than the toddler room. As a parent, it can be so easy to over analyse every little situation and so we were worried as to why he hadn't been moved up yet. We know he's a happy little boy, and assume his talking is ok for his age, so we couldn't work out why he wasn't in with other toddlers when many of his friends at other nurseries were in toddler rooms at much younger ages. Again, it can be so easy to compare your child to another child, and you can end up wondering constantly if you're being the best parent you can be, particularly at this age I find.
Needless to say, as soon as I went in to ask if he could try the toddler room, the staff had already decided to try him on some transition days in there anyway. Since we came back from our holiday to France, he hasn't enjoyed being dropped off at all, and has cried and clung to me at the door, but last Tuesday, after a bit of coaxing, he went in and spent the whole day in the toddler room. When I went back at 5pm to collect him, my heart burst with pride as I saw him sitting with the big boys and girls, happily playing in the sandpit and running around with them outside. His key worker reported that he'd had a brilliant day and loved the interaction with toddlers rather than little babies. He did the same on Thursday, and made the transition happily with no tears or feeling unsettled.
And so this week marks a new chapter of life at the nursery. In the week that our baby boy turns two, he will also be making the official move up in to the toddler room. Rather than Mummy carrying him in he will walk in and out his coat on a little peg with his Fireman Sam bag. He will sit with the big boys and girls at a table and eat his meals on a chair rather than in a little highchair. He will be free to run about outside in all weathers and he will spend his days chatting to big boys and girls rather than sitting with young babies. He may well become more boisterous and cheeky too, but it's all part and parcel of growing up and becoming a toddler.
I'm not sure how this week will go, but I think he will love the challenge of exciting new activities, seeing new faces and playing with new things. I'm sure I will also feel a little emotional as I drop him off on Tuesday too- this week already marks a huge change anyway, with our baby boy turning two. But in reality, I know he'll enjoy it so much when he's there. It's just an ordinary part of his week, in the same way as over the past year our nursery run has become a very ordinary moment in our routine together, but one where we chat and laugh together the whole way, pointing at every digger, car and bus on the way.
In May 2014, before his first ever day at nursery.
And in July 2015, a very ordinary moment in our week, leaving home for our morning car ride to nursery.