If you are coming to the end of your maternity or paternity leave and thinking about returning to work, chances are that your baby or toddler is going to start at nursery. Settling into the new environment of nursery life can be an anxious time however there are ways that you can help prepare yourself, and your child for the change.
Nurseries can be a great solution to childcare needs and they offer much more than day long babysitting. It is important to remember that in nursery, your child will explore an exciting new world with multi-sensory experiences, they will make new friends and begin their amazing learning journey from nursery to preschool.
All nurseries have a personalised settling-in process to help you and your child. It is often one of the reasons that parents choose Fennies because of our two week bespoke and free of charge, settling period. Settling in periods do vary but all nurseries and Preschool’s want to ensure that their settings are a welcoming place where your child will settle quickly and easily.
Make sure that consideration is given to the individual needs of your child and your family, this will help your child feel more familiar and secure in the nursery environment and make the transition easier.
If you are planning your return to work date, be aware that during the initial phase of settling you will be expected to stay with your child for some or all of the settling sessions. Gradually, increasing time away as your child (and you) begin to adjust.
You will be assigned a Key Person who will be responsible for providing you and your child with a positive, secure relationship. They will send you photos of your child and call you with regular updates during your first weeks of nursery life, whilst you get used to the new routine.
Your child will be likely to experience some form of separation anxiety but this is entirely normal and would happen whether or not your child is at nursery. Different children develop separation anxiety to different degrees, and at different times in their lives, but nurseries are prepared for this and it is why we place so much attention and care to settling your child.
10 ways to make settling easier for parents
- Give yourself plenty of time in the morning before drop off whilst you adapt to new routines, especially in the first few weeks, so you can stay calm (!)
- As long as you can be contacted, make plans and keep busy while your child is settling in. Where possible, try and have some time on your own before you go back to work.
- Do something you enjoy and un-parenty.
- Remind yourself that this is another parenting stage and it will be just as rewarding as the previous stages. Your child will be having fun as they play and learn, in an environment where they are safe and cared for.
- Bring your child’s favourite teddy or comforter with them if they have one. This can be especially helpful for your child to have during sleep times.
- Family photos are also a way of keeping familiar elements in the new environment.
- Don’t be afraid to tell the nursery team what your child likes and dislikes and their home routines. Even if it seems trivial, it will help the team better understand your child’s personality.
- Keep upbeat and don’t try to sneak out. Chat with the nursery team and leave with a smile and a kiss.
- Remember that you are not on your own. We are as keen as you are for your child to settle into nursery.
- And don’t forget, it’s only a first for you. Your childcare team will have many years’ experience and expertise. You are in safe hands, it’s what we do!
Kerin McDonald is a mummy of two boys under 5 and is Head of Marketing for Fennies Day Nurseries