For those that follow our Instagram account – you’ll know that Grayson has recently started Nursery. Starting Nursery is something that has filled me with anxiety, for several reasons. So, I thought I’d share those anxieties, and let you know how Gracie has been getting on since starting Nursery.
We’ve spoken previously about putting Grayson in to Nursery – it’s something that we have both been quite anxious about, for a few reasons, which I’ll go in to in this post. We’re lucky, we have amazing Childcare around us in the form of Grandparents, so Grayson hasn’t needed nursery care, but Ashleigh has just started working 5 days a week, part time hours, and we didn’t think it fair to call on Grandparents for every day. So, we bit the bullet with starting nursery, and made the first steps.
Highly Sensitive Children
Grayson is a very sensitive child (probably even categorised as “Highly Sensitive“) – I’m not just saying this because I’m his Dad, or to boast in any way – but G is an incredibly bright two year old. He holds full, coherent conversations. He knows his colours, his numbers, his alphabet. He’s funny, quick witted, and cheeky. He’s incredibly compassionate – he wants cuddles, he’ll tell us he loves us, he’s very aware of when we’re off to work and won’t be around etc. Basically, he’s very tuned in to his lifestyle and surroundings.
Coupled with this – he is incredibly shy around new people, or in big group situations. He often won’t leave our side for a few minutes at family events, whilst he takes his time to process all the people around. Once he’s ready, he’ll tell us, and he then goes off and runs around and plays like a mad man for hours.
One thing we’re lucky with, is that Grayson rarely has your typical tantrum – he’s more likely to simply sit and be quiet, or come for a cuddle and cry than to have a drop-to-the-floor meltdown.
We knew starting nursery was something that we knew might be a struggle for Grayson to adapt to.
Our Nursery Concerns
Because we know how Grayson is, and we know what might be an uncomfortable situation for him – we were quite apprehensive about watching him go through the doors for the first time.
From a Dads perspective, I was incredibly anxious about leaving him on his own with people he’s never met before, around children that he might not be overly keen to interact with. We were keen to find a nursery that was small, and local enough that it didn’t involve too much of a commute to get there (thus adding to the time to build up the anxiety all round!). Thankfully, we found one that’s 5 minutes away, and they invited us in to come and have a look around.
We first went one evening, when the other children had gone (because, Covid, we’re not allowed in to the room when the children are there at all). Grayson soon acclimatised to the surroundings, and found the trains and play kitchen. He was quite happy around the staff members that were there, and all in all, it was a great experience for us all to calm the nerves (obviously, we try our best not to show G that we’re anxious about things, because he’d pick up on it quite quickly!).
As a follow up to this, we had a one hour session where we left Grayson there to have a play with the other children around. I dropped him off for this, and whilst there were tears from him, the nursery staff carried him in to the play room, and within minutes, he was in his element playing.
I went to pick him up after the hour, and he didn’t want to leave! It was lovely to see that he’d had such a good time, quite heart warming really.
We decided that we should push ahead with longer there, so the next week, he went for his first proper session, 8am until 1pm. He was excited, and we dropped him off without much fuss. Come 1 o’clock, I went to pick him up. He saw my face and said “Come in and play Daddy!”. Another heart warming moment for sure!
The Second Full Nursery Day
I think we had false expectations here – having seen Grayson have such a positive time the first couple of visits, we thought this would be a doddle. Again, he wasn’t keen to leave us, but he soon ran in to play with the toys, and we snuck off to get to work.
The night before, Grayson woke up at 3am saying “I don’t want to go to Nursery” – we thought maybe it was just a nightmare that he was having, but clearly it had played on his mind so much that it woke him from his sleep and upset him. Anyway, we pushed through our anxieties around this and watched him go off to play.
We got a call at around 11am saying G was in a bit of a state, and would we like to go and pick him up, or leave him there. So I went to pick him up – we didn’t want him getting stressed or creating such a negative thought of Nursery that he simply never wanted to go again. We also think that he’s a bit under the weather, he suffers a lot with tonsillitis, so we thought he might be showing signs of that again (he becomes exceptionally clingy when unwell).
I picked him up, and after a few big cuddles, he was telling me all about his day at Nursery and how he enjoyed it. But it’s often counteracted with a “I want to stay at home” or “I don’t want to go to Nursery”, which is quite sad to hear him say.
Since this, he’s really not been himself. We’re still sure he’s got a bug or tonsillitis, but the Doctor won’t see him due to Covid, so suggested we try Calpol for a few days and see if he improves. Coupled with the heat, it’s really not a good combination for him at the moment.
Nursery have suggested we take him twice a week, instead of once a week, and try and break the back of this, so he realises that Nursery is fun and that Mum and Dad are always going to come and pick him up when he’s finished playing. Cruel to be kind, I guess.
The Nursery update us after each visit via an app, and the pictures of him playing are adorable, along with the descriptions of what he’s been talking about. He clearly does enjoy being there, but I guess he just gets overwhelmed by it all. It’s amplified for him because he is such a sensitive soul, and he’s also spent the last 6 months rarely leaving the house, so to have all this change, with seeing family again, Mummy back to work, starting nursery, days out. It’s all a bit overwhelming for us all, really.
We’re trying not to big-up starting nursery too much now, we want him to enjoy it, but not be overly excited by it, so much so that he then doesn’t understand how to handle his emotions.
We’ll see how next week goes, and take it from there. For now, it’s Calpol to try and ease any pain from teething or tonsillitis, cuddles, and lots of reassurance that he’s doing great, and that no matter where he is, mummy and daddy will always come and get him at the end of it!
Have you had similar experiences with starting nursery? How did your kids adapt to being in an unfamiliar place with new people? Please let us know in the comments (and put my mind at ease, epic dad guilt here that we’ve made him do things he doesn’t like!)
Check out our guest post from Eddie here, about knowing when your child is ready for nursery, or James about his amazing little boy Joshua Starting School. Dadvengers also recently posted about Being supportive during the transition to School or Nursery – and it’s well worth a read.