Back in January, Little Mr began his settling in sessions at Nursery. We had planned for him to go to Nursery one day per week spending the other three days per week whilst I’m in work at both his Grandparents house. It was a chance for him to make some friends and grow more independent from my husband and I in a friendly, safe environment where he would have fun playing with children his own age and learn new things.
His settling in sessions didn’t go well at all. The sessions were only for an hour each week but he was clingy and cried for me to stay in the room with him on all occasions. I had managed to walk out but he was upset and it really upset me too. I put his reaction down to being tired and a little under the weather but when week on week he got more and more upset and it was getting increasingly hard to leave him there.
I had reassurance from the team at the Nursery that he would get used to it and begin to enjoy it so when the time came after February half term to leave him in Nursery for the whole day I was nervous. Little Mr knew instantly on the morning of his first full day that something odd was happening. We had got him dressed and he was sat at the dining room table to eat some breakfast. This is completely out of his usual routine (He goes to his Grandparents in his pyjamas and he eats breakfast at their house) He didn’t touch his milk or his porridge and he told my husband to take off his shoes and his coat. He knew something different was happening. We tried to remain positive, encouraged him that he was going to have a fantastic day and we set off for Nursery.
Hearing your little boy cry and scream ‘Mummy, no don’t leave me, Mummy, no!’ was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to hear. It was awful. I kissed his forehead and told him I’d see him later as I looked straight ahead at the Nursery door and tried to keep back the tears until I had walked through the door. He was comforted by the Nursery staff who tried to pre-occupy him with some toys but he wasn’t happy and wanted the world to know it.
I sobbed all the way into work and felt absolutely dreadful. I rang Nursery for an update and he was sitting on the Nursery Assistant’s lap playing with playdoh. I was pleased, he had calmed down and was joining in with the activities. I went into work trying to busy myself to take my mind off it and told Nursery I’d ring back at lunchtime to see how he was getting on. I rang back at lunchtime and the Nursery were concerned as he hadn’t eaten any snack or had anything to drink. He was protesting and refusing to eat/drink. The Nursery was concerned he wouldn’t last until 4:30pm and asked me if anyone could fetch him earlier as it was clear he was distressed. I was upset.
Luckily for us, my in-laws had kept the day free just in case this was going to happen so they went to fetch him and took him back to their house. He ate some lunch but was really unsettled. It was awful to see him so upset and distressed.
We attempted nursery for the second time the following week with the same results. He was distressed and the Nursery were concerned. We collected him early as we knew he wouldn’t last the full day. We knew it was a new experience for him and it would take time for him to settle in but our little man who is usually so confident was withdrawn, upset and refused to drink his water.
The following Friday, it was my day off so we made our usual jaunt to the sorting office to pick up a couple of parcels. As we drove towards the sorting office which is the same direction as nursery, Little Mr got upset in the back of the car shouting ‘No nursery Mummy, no nursery’. I didn’t realise he even knew the way to nursery but seeing him get so upset was just awful.
After lengthy discussions and a fair few sleepless nights, we decided that it wasn’t the right time for Little Mr to go to Nursery and have given Nursery notice that he won’t be going again this year. It’s been quite a traumatic experience and I feel awful that he got so upset. His behaviour over the last 3 months has deteriorated. He’s become quite clingy and his night time sleeping is very hit and miss. I have permanent bags I am that tired.
We are lucky that Little Mr doesn’t have to go to Nursery. Our Parents are still very keen to look after him throughout the working week and we are hugely grateful. I have doubts that we didn’t give the Nursery experience long enough and feel bad that we couldn’t afford for him to go anymore than one day per week. If we could have afforded it, we would have loved to send him to Nursery for a longer period in the week but we are not in a position to do so.
All in all a hugely upsetting and disappointing experience for us all but Little Mr’s well being comes first and we needed to make a decision with this in mind. The nursery where he went have supported our decision and I’m grateful for that. They are a wonderful team and I’m sad that he’ll be missing out on what they could offer but ultimately, I don’t want to scare him or make him fearful of going back to Nursery in the future.
These parenting decisions are tough, no-one tells you how hard it is to see your toddler puffy eyed with tears rolling down their cheeks sobbing trying to catch their breath. Let me tell you, it’s not easy! I’ve felt hugely guilty for putting him through all of that, I wish it could have worked out but it just wasn’t the right time and sometimes you just have to accept that.