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Making decisions and coping when your baby goes to nursery (or a childminder or family member)

Photo courtesy of First Class Childcare:

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about nursery over the last few months. This is because it’s been a huge change in our lives. And it was one of the toughest decisions that I have ever made.

Honestly, I wasn’t ready for my precious boy to go to nursery. If we had the money, I would have decided to stay off with him for at least another year. And I was exhausted because I was trying to build a business while taking care of him and needed help. I was also going back to work part time.

So, we headed to nursery for the first time when he was a little over a year old. The first day was great as we stayed with him while he happily played. The next visit also felt okay as he wasn’t too distressed AND we got to take down the Christmas tree without his help. It really was a glorious morning.

Unfortunately, I headed back to work the next week. There were awful tears, he was more unsettled each day and he was really upset with me when I got home. And I was home earlier in the day that week. I was completely distraught and felt this was the worst decision I had ever made. To top it off, my boob leaked when standing in my bosses’ office and my boobs felt like they were going to burst when I got home. To be frank, that week was really shit. I instantly thought about handing in my notice. Which I’ve since learned is a common feeling or reaction at this stage.

After having a good cry, I took a deep breath. And used some of the tools I’ve learned through coaching and a session with my coach to help shift my mindset. I thought about how it was all new for both of us and that we both needed time to adjust. I looked at how we were supporting our son at this time with short days and no other big changes (or so we thought). And I started to look at my options – and really see them for the first time. At this point, I made a back up plan with my mother in law in case he didn’t settle at nursery.

Little did I know, we were about to head to Canada as my sister died and my wee boy would need to deal with more upheaval. When we returned, I was on sick leave as I took time to recover. This meant that we could be really flexible with his pick up and drop off times so he could have a gradual return too.

And all of our careful planning and knowing that we had a back up plan paid off. I felt more relaxed about nursery. Having a back up plan helped me on the tough days as I knew it wasn’t our only option if he continued to struggle. I felt reassured that it wasn’t going to be an endurance test. And he started to enjoy it more too during that time.

But I think the crucial moment was realising that his workers cared about him too. I really leaned into gratitude on the day that his key worker came out to excitedly tell me that he smiled for her. I still feel a bit teary thinking about that moment. And, after that, he started to flourish at nursery and learn new things. And now I appreciate having childcare that works for both of us.

Our emotions when making decisions about or starting childcare

This story makes me think about how it can be helpful to consciously think about how we manage our emotions during new beginnings. Like those times when our little one starts going to nursery, a childminder or spending time with family or friends without us.

This can be an exciting time and it can also feel scary and difficult. And we will all have individual wishes, needs and circumstances that affect our decisions around childcare. And, sometimes, these can be really tricky decisions to make.

Some of us may feel ready (or possibly very excited) to access childcare and others may feel reluctant if they or their baby isn’t ready yet. If we’ve had a traumatic or distressing experience on our journey to parenthood, we may need feel even more desperate for some space to ourselves to recover. Or we might feel really anxious about leaving our baby with anyone else.

While there is no right way to feel or approach childcare, we sometimes feel threatened when people make decisions that are different to our own. Especially if we are not confident in our decisions.

It doesn’t help that everyone else seems to have an opinion about when our babies should be cared for by others, what type of care is beneficial for them and how we should approach it. And they often share their views without hesitation. With all of this noise, it can feel challenging to tune in and know what really feels right for us and our babies.

Or we might ignore that little voice that is telling us what feels right for us and/ or our babies. This could be because we are worried about judgement (or perceived judgement) of our choices – judgement from ourselves or others. Or we might be struggling to see the full range of options available to us.

On top of all of this, it can feel really difficult if we don’t feel that our decisions are aligned with our values or wishes.

Supporting ourselves to access childcare that is right for us and our babies

This is where it can be important for us to tune in to what we really want or need. Keep in mind that we may need to take a breath and use one of our wellbeing tools to calm our nervous system first. Then we can approach the situation from a fresh perspective and make a plan that works for us and our babies.

Coaching can be incredibly beneficial at such times in our life. It can help us to overcome our worries about what we think is the “right” thing to do (even if it doesn’t feel right) and any fears of judgement. Coaching can also help us to shift our focus and put things in perspective. This includes supporting us to take note of what is going well instead of what feels difficult (in my case, the tears and gut wrenching feeling that I’d lost a limb). It can also help us think about options that we felt unable to see before that support us in making a decision that feels right for us or to weather the storm.

If you feel that you would benefit from this type of support, email me at or send me a message on Facebook or Instagram. You can also look at the website to see which coaching package might work best for you. I also offer bespoke coaching packages that can be tailored to your needs.

If you are struggling after a traumatic experience on your journey to parenthood and feel that your emotions relating to these experiences are making it difficult for you to make decisions or to access childcare, we can also talk about whether the TBR 3 Step Rewind Technique might be supportive for you.



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