Is it really good for small children to go to nursery/childminder?

(124 Posts)
Londonmamabychance Tue 18-Oct-16 11:44:00

This morning, as I dropped of my 2-year-old, she cried. As I waved 'bye, bye' to her and went for the door, she burst out in the saddest cry, and was immediately given a cuddle from her favourite nursery worker, who held her close and comforting in her arms. What stuck with me most after I left the nursery was the type of cry: It wasn't the angry and surprised cry of a child who's not used to being left with other adults by its mum, it was the sad and knowing cry of a child who knows that yet again, mummy is leaving, and I will spend the whole day away from her.
And so I wondered for the millionth time: Am I doing the right thing, working four days a week and leaving her at nursery from 8.30 - 5.30? Yes, it is an absolutely wonderful nursery, all the staff are loving and well educated and its Ofsted outstanding. DD clearly enjoys being with her little friends and talks about them all the time, and enjoys all the activities they do at nursery. And she does not cry every day she is dropped off, most often her dad drops her off and she cries only on very rare occasions when he drops her off. And she is always bright and happy when I come to pick her up.
But wouldn't she be happier, and thrive more, if she spend more time - maybe even all her time - with her mum or dad, being taken to play groups and play dates regularly? I know that for us, at the moment, it is a hypothetical question. We cannot afford for me to stop working, and with a new baby arriving in two months’ time, I will need her to go to nursery at least some days for a while, as I settle in with the new baby, having no family or close friends around who can help out.
Secondly, I do enjoy working and succeeding professionally, and part of me thinks it's important to show DD that it is possible to be a working mum, that is not so that women must do all the childcare while the men make the money. That there’s a point in her doing well in school. Ideally, I would like both DH and I to work part time, so that we could share the childcare 50/50, but as his salary is double of mine, that is not financially possible.
But honestly, are we doing the best for our children when we put them in childcare, so that we can go to work? Or are we depriving them of spending time with the people who love them the most, their parents?

RedPaint37 Tue 18-Oct-16 11:48:32

i know exactly what you mean. it's the saddest part of my day when I have to hand them over and they don't want mummy to leave. But life is a balance, I wouldn't want my DDs to be financially dependent on a man, and depending on what you do, getting out of the labour market savagely affects your earnings and they are already under pressure when you have children anyway as you are less focused and working somewhat PT. I don't know if any of us knows if we've really got it right, but it does get easier, my elder DD understands that if i didn't work, whilst we'd be together we would have almost no spare money for any sort of treat, plus eventually I'd get depressed about my lack of prospects at work. TBH i'm jealous of people who have a GP willing to do 1 day a week or half a day or anything really. Multiple secure attachments are ideal.

kimlo Tue 18-Oct-16 11:52:43

I'm an eyp, and I think it is good for children to go to some sort of setting. The government agree and thats why some 2 year olds get the free hours to help close the gap.

My dd2 was the same as yours, she love nursery and her friends but sometimes she cried on drop off. Normally on a thursday she had to be prised off my leg, it was down to tiredness. By the end of breakfast she would be fine.

TheBadgersMadeMeDoIt Tue 18-Oct-16 11:53:48

It sounds like you've thought everything through and are doing the best you can for your child, your family and your career. There is no perfect, one-size-fits all solution that suits everyone. Your daughter will have days when she would prefer to be home with Mum. Just like days when you would rather not go to work. There are benefits to being raised exclusively at home by a parent but there are also benefits to the social and educational environment of nursery. Don't beat yourself up by over-thinking it. You're doing fine and there's nothing wrong with the choices you've made.

lornathewizzard Tue 18-Oct-16 11:55:26

I don't think there is a right answer. It's depends so much on the situation and the family set up.
I wanted to stay at home with mine and by paying off debt before we had kids and making sure our finances are concrete, we can manage. And I didn't have much of a career to lose I guess.
But that's not to say that I won't be putting DD into nursery when she gets her free hours. There are many benefits and I'm sure your DD is enjoying her time there.
We do what we do with the best of intentions I find.

MrsJayy Tue 18-Oct-16 11:57:42

Aww you poor thing you have the guilts im sure its bloody inbuilt . Children do benefit from a nursery/social setting some more than others but your Dd was having an off day im sure they all have them try and not worry I am sure she is ok.

MrsJayy Tue 18-Oct-16 11:59:28

Pp are right we all do what we do to get by.

AndNowItsSeven Tue 18-Oct-16 12:01:18

Could you not take her out of nursery when you have the new baby? A baby and a toddler is the norm for many mothers.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Oct-16 12:03:08

I'm firmly convinced that my DD is better off in a nursery/childminder while I work part time. I nearly went mad with lack of mental stimulation on maternity leave and know that having a job where I can be a professional adult is better for the time we do spend together. She gets lots out of nursery that I wouldn't do with her too.

RedPaint37 Tue 18-Oct-16 12:08:30

i agree noble I like to think it'd be all wooden toys, forest exploration and craft adventures, but the likelihood would be a lot of peppa pig and the odd grumpy trip to the park in the rain smile Like that time I had a few months of work and was going to read all the books on my bookshelf, but instead sat on the sofa watching box sets.

Whatabloodyidiot1 Tue 18-Oct-16 12:14:03

I think that being at home is best until a child is 3, my opinion but many studies back this up too. If I thought a nursery or childminder could do a better job of raising my child than me/us I'd be seriously questioning my skills as a mother!
Yes, children do lots of activities at nursery and play with other children etc but no matter how good the childcare setting it is a poor substitute to being in the care of a loving, nurturing parent.
Sadly it has become the norm to put children aged 6/7/8 months into full time childcare, modern life dictates that 2 salaries are needed to attain any kind of 'lifestyle' but to what end? Sad, angry, frustrated mothers who want to be at home with their children and babies/toddlers who have to develop coping strategies at such a young age to cope with life at nursery. Yes, I'm sure the staff are lovely but are they a substitute for a parent?
I genuinely don't think its good for anyone, parent or child.
Not a popular opinion im sure! But the OP asked for all opinions and this is just mine.

Londonmamabychance Tue 18-Oct-16 12:15:09

Thanks everyone, do feel slightly beter hearing that many people actually think it's okay for them to be in childcare, and you're right, they may just sometimes be having off days and preferrign to stay at home, same as us, I guess. I aslo think it's true that many women, myself included, benefit form the mental stimulation at work. Not saying you canø't find mental stimulation being at home, though! : ) gues sit depends on your type of job and personality.

Still not certain of being in nursery is best for the child, though ; I think it's true that if the mum wants to work and the family need the income, then it is best for the family unit as a whole, and as such also for the child. No child benefits from being at home with a mum who's missing being at work, or from living in a family that's financially strained, as that always creates stress.

I guess I just feel guilty because I'm not the kind of woman who would be happy to be at home with my children all the time. I enjoy working, although I honestly did also love my year on materity leave and di not miss work. But I think that was in large part because I knew it was just a break from work. I suppose I wish I was and feel that being at stay at home mum is better for the children, and some part of me feels selfish for going to work, bizarly, as it is really hard to keep up at quite demanding career and being a good mum at the same time. Sometimesd I'm just not sure if I should feel guilty or if I am just feeling that way because society makes me feel it.

Stevefromstevenage Tue 18-Oct-16 12:16:27

I am a working mother but I do think from what I have read that research backs up your worst fears.

I think in my ideal world children would be looked after by both parents in their early years. So 18months mother and 18months father and then have an availability of good quality childcare.

We don't live in an ideal world though so ............

RedPaint37 Tue 18-Oct-16 12:19:26

i've felt that too - and dh has said it'd be easier for him if i stayed at home but where will my children be if DH gets sick and I don't have any sellable skils? At the moment I could crank up my career if I needed to, it's pottering along. Also, divorce, you can never say that won't happen and I don't want to have a miserable penny pinching rest of my life for the sake of a few more years at home. Everyone has to make their own choices I guess.

Longtalljosie Tue 18-Oct-16 12:21:45

I think there's quite a difference between nursery and a childminder myself. At 2 my DD did 2x 3 hour sessions at nursery but while I was at work was with a childminder. Perhaps your DD would be happier, it's certainly a calmer environment I think, especially in a small setting.

MrsJayy Tue 18-Oct-16 12:21:59

If you are not keen on Nursery would you consider a child minder smaller setting and a more homely enviroment.

motherinferior Tue 18-Oct-16 12:22:23

I have absolutely no doubt that childcare was the best thing for my children. I did not want to be at home with them. I wanted to work. I wanted them to be with someone who loved being with small children all day and did things with them and was creative and gave them security in their world. I wouldn't have done that myself; I would have been a 'sad, angry, frustrated mother' who was longing for a life outside domesticity.

My daughters are now 13 and 15. They seem to be remarkably functional, really. I by contrast was a bit of a basket-case at their age not least because my mother stopped work when we were small and it was absolutely the worst thing she could have done.

Bagina Tue 18-Oct-16 12:27:15

You do what you do to get by. Yes, it's a long day for a very young child, but what are you gonna do??? It's hard to express opinions on this subject without upsetting parents who feel bad enough and are doing their best anyway.

I'm an eyp, and I think it is good for children to go to some sort of setting. The government agree and thats why some 2 year olds get the free hours to help close the gap

I think this might be one of my favourite quotes! Do you actually believe this is the reason? Not that we just exist as tax codes to the government? It's nothing to do with our child's welfare.

smarterthanhim Tue 18-Oct-16 12:27:50

Aw, that's such a shame, op.
Trying to look at it slightly differently, the fact she's upset you're leaving means she has a strong bond with you, which is fantastic. Also, you're showing her that working is a normal part of life. From an anthropological viewpoint, children were sometimes cared for in groups while mothers went gathering.

I was a sahm until mine were at school, but it's a very personal thing and depends on so many factors.

Londonmamabychance Tue 18-Oct-16 12:30:12

Sorry for all the typos in the above! Hope you can still get the gist of it. Was typing on my phone.

Whatabloodyidiot I do in large part agree with your point. This is why I feel guilty, I guess. I have to say I was at home with DD until she was 1, though. But still, I also think that no childcare setting can substitute a loving and nurturing parent. I guess the question is though, do you see it as a sacrifice on your behalf to stay at home with your children, will it make you bitter and regretful of missing out on a career? Because then, it may ultimately not be good for the children, as they will feel your frustration. Or do you genuinly enjoy it and not scared of loosing out on work?

And then there's whether it's even financially viable for you. You're right, in large part we as a society has created a very high materialistic standard of living as a norm, which needs two salaries, whereas we could get by with less on one salary and thus have more time with the kids. I guess it depends on how much 'less' that would be, and your situation. We live in a one bed flat - soon with two kids - and don't have a lavish lifestyle, we just live in London which is so expensive, could move further out, but DH's job is in smack central (Soho) so then he'd have a massive commute and the kids would never see him. So more time with mum, mayve, yes, but no time at all with dad. And that's not good, either. And there's also the elephant in the room, being financially dependant on your partner if you stay at home. I would find that would create a problematic imbalance.

Suppose this problem is a reflection of a lot of things that are fundamentally worng in society: No rights for paternity leave, long working hours, no state subsidies for eaarly years childcare, expensive rents and difficulties to get on the ladder for first time buyers etc.

But given that we can't resolve all those society problems right now (although we can try ; ) ) then how do we make a life that's good for our children and us within the conditions we have, and who's paying the price, is my question. And sometimes I wonder if by putting my child in nursery, I am making her pay the highest price, or if I am exaggerating how much she looses out by being there.

RedPaint37 Tue 18-Oct-16 12:30:16

no it is, they've definitely found 2 yos from disadvantaged families need to go to nursery earlier and it improves outcomes. Similarly if SAHP will make you feel frustrated, trapped or depressed (it would me), then it's not for you.

kimlo Tue 18-Oct-16 12:33:51

Do I really beleive thats what it's for? Yes I do, that was the whole point in the early years education funding for 2 year olds.

It is nothing to do with getting parents back in to work, alot of the children that qualify already have at least one parent that works and some are already able to claim tax credit help towards childcare anyway.

GoodLuckTime Tue 18-Oct-16 12:34:25

Ah OP it's not black and white. Remember the 'stay at home mum' model is a construct of the patriarchy and industrial revolution.

There's a study somewhere that suggests optimum for young children is to be cared for by a rotating cast of 4 adults that they have a long term bond with. This is based on the idea that our natural state is to live and work together in tribal groups. So your child would spend time with you but also their dad and some other relatives, aunties, uncles, cousins grandparents.

When I was in Mat leave and finding it v tough our doula pointed out to me that if a mother elephant tried to raise her baby alone she'd die. Same for a lion. Both intelligent, sophisticated animals live in larger family groupings to share resource and give support.

I'm not a massive fan of nursery for v young children as I think they need one on one attention and long term
Bonds. But our DD did two days a week from age 1 and has benefited. We also have a nanny for the rest of the time, we are committed to her for the long term, They have a grandchild / grandparent like relationship. If you like I am buying my tribal grouping. Especially as our nanny helps with family cooking. And it means the at the end of the day DD is home already. So I can arrive and focus on her, not be rushing through the admin of getting home, preparing food etc.

DH usually drops DD at nursery and she's less happy when I drop her. But a big part of that is being out of routine. If I drop her she knows things aren't different and Ian going it means a day off.

If you are really worried, could you look into a nanny share or local
Child minder?

DD is now three and this sept we moved her from a large (50 children) nursery she went to two days a week to a smaller (10 children) nursery which is five days a week but shorter days, til lunchtime or 3.30 (our nanny does pick ups). She Is much much happier now, although I wouldn't have said she was unhappy before if you see what I mean?

I work 4 days too. So this means when nursey is running (they take all the school holidays) I get a short day To myself. Like working i find this energising and means I can focus on DD when we are together. So far I've given her one Friday off to spend with me when she seemed to need it, and I Will work some Fridays so I can take time off with her at every holiday.

Don't feel guilty, it's pointless. But use what you see to refine the balance for your family. Less
Nursey? Nanny share? Child
Minder? Take parental
Leave regularly to get time with her.

Being a SAHP works for some people and I take my hat off to them as the unrelenting nature of it can be very tough: it wouldn't work for me.

DD gets experiences from the childcare we have in place I couldn't provide AND she gets a happier reneegised me when we are together.

Thatwaslulu Tue 18-Oct-16 12:34:29

My DS went to a childminder at 3 months so I could go back to work. He also went to several nurseries before he was 3 and went to the one attached to his primary school. He enjoyed the social aspect as he was the baby of the family, his brothers were 19 and 13 when he was born so he didn't have anyone a similar age at home. He is now 16 and it is just what he sees as normal - he doesn't feel that we neglected him or deprived him of our time because it was what we needed to do to make ends meet, and he is still close friends with children he met at nursery and the childminder's.

Whatabloodyidiot1 Tue 18-Oct-16 12:41:05

Londonmama, there's no doubt that if you think being a sahm isn't for you, that you would find it boring/frustrating etc then you should definetly not do it! I had never wanted to be a sahm or planned to be throughout my pregnancy but once number 1 was here, that was it, there was no way I wanted to leave him.
I think the important thing here is choice, I chose to become a sahm, I know that makes ME very lucky but I think what frustrates a lot of mothers is that they simply don't have that choice and so by default automatically assume they are missing out by not being a sahm.
There's no question of inequality in our marriage because I do not work. I see it like this:
Shit needs doing every day, school run, cooking, mortgage paid, dogs walked, energy bills paid, homework, food bought etc etc, the same im sure in every household throughout Britain. Some of that stuff I get done, some of that stuff he takes care of, as long as it gets done it matters not who's done it.

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