How Not to Find a Nursery for your Dearest

My heart’s greatest desire is for my son to be happy ❤️ 

I wrote this blog as my little man experienced his first taste of independence today. He had a 2 hour “settling in” session for his new nursery, a nerve-wracking experience for both parents and child. We were there on Tuesday as well, but I stuck around to see how he interacted with the other children, the environment and most importantly the staff. It’s difficult to know what to look for in a nursery when you first start doing the rounds. Like everything on this journey, I was completely inexperienced in this area and just went from one nursery to the next completely befuddled and confused. I made some mistakes, so I thought I would share these with parents out there who are about to embark on this next stage of adventure…

  • Don’t start looking too late: I am not the most disorganised person, in fact many times I pride myself on my general togetherness. But there are some SUPER mums out there. They are the ones patrolling around nurseries with tiny notebooks as soon as they see that little pink plus on the pregnancy test. Their little darlings are the ones who will be attending the best nurseries while you grit your teeth and hand out another £50 for the honour of being placed on a waiting list. Seriously, a waiting list of 15 months for the nursery we wanted G to go to. How is that even possible??
  • Don’t be fooled by shiny objects: Not knowing what to look for meant that I tended to just focus on the visual aspects of the nursery. How big is the room? how many toys do they have to play with? Oooh they have a thumb scanner on the door how cool is that?? However the most important thing (for us anyway) is how the staff interact with the kids. There is a big difference between staff who engage and play with the kids and staff who oversee the kids playing. I guess there are arguments for both methods of childcare, but I choose the former.
  • Prepare some questions to ask before you go: OK, so maybe those mums with their tiny notebooks have the right idea. I completely overestimated my ability to retain information and as a result left with more questions swilling around in my mind than when I arrived.
  • Don’t forget to ask for help: Speak to friends and family to get advice and recommendations. If you have a willing granny to traipse around with you (thank you Granny M), then take advantage! Two sets of eyes are better than one and it is so helpful to have someone to discuss this big decision with.

But even if we do make these mistakes, our little ones are more robust then we give them credit for. Our ability to thrive and grow is determined by our ability to adapt and despite G’s tears today, I think he will settle into this nursery just fine.

P.S. Here are some questions that I found useful (when I thought about them later):

  • Admin questions like: fees, nursery opening times, late pick-up costs, discounts for bank holidays
  • Sleep time questions like: where do the babies sleep, is it a darkened, separate area to the play area, is there a nursery schedule or do they follow the baby’s schedule, how do the staff help baby to sleep
  • Food questions like: what meals are provided, how are staff made aware of allergies, how are younger babies helped during meal times
  • Play questions like: how are the days structured, what sort of activities do staff do with the children, how much time do the children spend outside
  • Practical questions like: what do I need to supply (e.g. Nappies, wipes, milk etc)

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