How to cope when your child starts nursery

child starts nursery

The day is finally looming…when everything changes…when your child starts at nursery. A seismic shift in the world of being a parent, your child starting nursery can be a rather anxious time for both parent and child – trust me, I’ve been there!

We worry about what will happen when we drop them off, whether they will scream the entire time they are there or even get involved in any of the activities. And then we worry that they won’t miss us at all, that we will instantly be forgotten the minute we have turned our backs on them. We stress over whether they will eat any food or go on a hunger strike in protest. Or whether they will fight the nap and then be a mess later. We worry whether they will make any friends or sit sobbing along in a corner.

All the unknowns coupled with our own naughty imaginations can get the better of us…..and of course all these thoughts are TOTALLY natural, but there is actually quite a lot you can do to give yourself some peace of mind. Here are my top tips for surviving this tricky period of transition.

how to cope when your child starts nursery

Choose the right nursery for you

I know this might sound like a no brainer, but don’t just go with the nursery the neighbour recommended, choose the right nursery for you and your child. It has to feel right, it has to be run well, you have to have a comfortable connection with the staff there and feel good about their key staff worker to whom they will be assigned. They should offer a slow and considered, yet flexible settling in period. As with all things in parenting, trust your instincts because they are always right.

Make the nursery part of life before hand

Besides the settling in period, there are some tips and tricks you can utilise to help your child feel comfortable with the nursery they will be going to. Take a detour and walk past it with them on your way home, go on their website and look at the picture gallery with them, talk about the different activities they might do and things they might play with at nursery. All of this will help things to feel just that little bit less alien to them, and if ¬†your little one knows better what to expect, this really does help with them feeling more in control, and less anxious – trust me, I’ve been there.

Put on a stiff upper lip

I hate this phrase, truly, but actually if there’s one time you do need a stiff upper lip in your life as a parent to a small child, it’s at drop off at nursery. Yes, you may feel like sobbing inconsolably at goodbye time, but imagine what that projects to your child? Even if your heart is breaking inside, force a smile, and make the goodbye quick. Yes, they may be wailing at the sight of you leaving, but distraction is a miracle when it comes to small people, and trust me, nursery staff are really quite masterful at distracting children away from the sorrow that is goodbye.

Know what they are doing at nursery

Knowing what goes on day to day at nursery really helps us feel more at ease as parents. And a huge part of this relies on ensuring your child goes to a nursery where the communication lies are open and transparent and where they are passionate about truly engaging with parents. A nursery should, at the very least, send out a daily report and give you a quick debrief at pick up at the end of each day, and then there are other nurseries who use fantastic apps like mytoddlr where you can track your child’s daily activities and development, memorable moments from your child’s day through activity, meals, nap, photo and video logs so that’s definitely worth looking out for. Also a good sign because it means the nursery has more time and money to spend on looking after your little ones (not doing admin!).

Feel ok about sending them to nursery

And lastly, one of the hardest things about sending our children to nursery is the mum guilt. But I say NO! to the guilt. Stop right there. Because you are doing whatever you need to do that is best for your own situation. And there’s no need to justify it, not to anyone else, and certainly not to yourself. Sorry, perhaps a bit harsh, but needed to be said there.

How did you cope with sending your child to nursery? Do you have any tips to share? Or perhaps you are reading this and worried about your child starting nursery? Do leave a comment and share.

Find out more about mytoddlr on the website here.

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  1. Great tips! I was a WRECK when Eva started nursery, she hated it (pretty much like she did school!) and cried hysterically until in the end we took her out for another year. When she went back the following year she was totally different, ran straight in and loved it. I had to adopt a stiff upper lip though!

  2. Some great tips here – my little one screams his head off for the first 10mins and then we’ve never looked back. Hope your first day at nursery isn’t too traumatic for either you or your child

  3. these are great tips. I don’t have children but I think this may be difficult for both parts: parents and babies, so plan it ahead and know what to expect is good! x

  4. As someone who works in a nursery it is also really important to be positive with your child and if you think they may be upset, tell the staff out of earshot!!

  5. Going to nursery was tough with my second daughter, it took 3 months for her to settle. Number 3 took 3 days to settle in and I think that’s because she had been used to going and dropping her sister off. Being familiar with the place makes a huge difference for a child

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