Confused about nursery, Covid, and childcare in general! Please help

(46 Posts)
Radial5737 Tue 04-May-21 11:07:49

Just wondering if anyone else has experienced difficulties with finding a nursery for their LO during Covid etc? Would love to hear some supportive advice and / or experiences similar as I'm a FTM and it's all a bit scary.

Basically my lovely chilled baby has had a complete and total meltdown on the three occasions I've taken him to look around a nursery. All we've done is walk through the door and they've asked me to get him out of his buggy and he's just been in floods of years. He's generally not a tearful baby unless hungry or something definitive, so he's definitely not liking some aspect. The way he cried each time was really distressed and frightened. He's 10 months and has only ever properly met DH and I due to no support bubble. Have had a few walks with other mums recently but not much, and lots of zooms of course but no big groups.

I'm worried about him starting nursery and feel really anxious about it now. I know babies often need settling in but at the moment they won't allow mums to go in, you have to just hand the baby over at the door. This is NOT going to work for me based on how upset he's been each time we have looked around. Also I really don't like the idea of upsetting him this much and although I know it's always hard for a mum to wave goodbye to DC at nursery, this feels worse somehow.

I am incredibly fortunate in that we could afford for me to delay my return to work for a few months longer (I work for myself). Not ideal but could try. I'm thinking should I just wait until Covid is much better and after 21st June when I'll hopefully be able to go along to settling in sessions with him?

I don't want him to be disadvantaged either way. I'm worried the pandemic situation will affect his socialisation in the long run. Does anyone have a view on this? At home with us he seems a pretty content little boy and confident to explore, laughs a lot etc. It's heartbreaking to see him so distraught. Also not even be able to kiss him because of the mask. sad

Finally - and I'm sort of ranting now - is it just me or are nurseries quite depressing places? I live in london and have looked at 3 so far across a range of prices, all popular chains with a waiting list. They were really depressing places I felt - but I don't know if I'd feel differently if my baby wasn't crying or if times were normal. The rooms looked bleak and toys looked tatty and some of the workers looked bored. Has anyone else found this? I always assumed the nursery thing would be fine. I'm seriously questioning the whole thing now but I don't know if I'm just reacting to his response. Wondering if nanny would be a better option, but then he wouldn't have the benefit of other children.

Can anyone handhold or advise me please?

OP’s posts: |
NicolaDunsire Tue 04-May-21 11:14:52

Have you thought of looking at a childminder? We loved our childminder (in south London btw, if you are around there!).

mnahmnah Tue 04-May-21 11:16:49

Childminder or nanny would work best here i think!

3WildOnes Tue 04-May-21 11:22:35

Nurseries don’t suit all children under 3. I think lots of under 3s do better with a childminder or nanny.
Two of mine would have really struggled to settle in nursery but my youngest settled straight away.
If you have to use a nursery they should be able to do settling sessions in the garden.

Radial5737 Tue 04-May-21 11:23:24

Childminders are the same at the moment - I have contacted all the ones local to me and they are not letting parents look around or go inside. Sorry but I'm not handing my baby over to a stranger without looking around or settling him in first.

OP’s posts: |
Radial5737 Tue 04-May-21 11:24:06

@NicolaDunsire whereabouts please?

OP’s posts: |
Radial5737 Tue 04-May-21 11:25:52

@3WildOnes interesting, thanks. As a FTM with no experience of babies before this I just kind of assumed nurseries worked for all DC but perhaps you are right. Trying to strike a balance between having him cared for as I would want, versus socialising with others, being happy and content, and also getting time for me. It's hard sad

OP’s posts: |
NicolaDunsire Tue 04-May-21 11:26:35


*@NicolaDunsire* whereabouts please?

Brixton Hill.

bunglebee Tue 04-May-21 11:30:03

You could look at nannyshare for personalized, home care plus other children. In London it shouldn't be too hard to find a nannyshare for one baby.

Or in normal circumstances, nannies are out and about with their charges a lot anyway at playgroups and playdates etc. These are starting to reopen, so you could just look for a nanny specifying that you want someone who will take your DC out and socialise them. Or you can look at childminders.

Zarinea Tue 04-May-21 11:30:29

I had the same worry, but DD started in December at 11 months and was fine. She's at a reallly lovely nursery now

I did find a real mix of horribly depressing and really lovely nurseries when I was looking round, though.

And we could go in to settle her.

Also south London of that helps for reccomendations!

bunglebee Tue 04-May-21 11:32:59

Ps. I do think DC vary. My first was, ah, highly strung and sensitive to his environment and I think he would have been stressed in nursery. But he thrived in nannyshare. My second is bombproof and would have been fine in nursery.

JeanClaudeVanDammit Tue 04-May-21 11:37:53

Some nurseries are starting settling in sessions with parents again, the one my DD attends is. Hopefully that means they’ll all be able to do so soon? Gut feeling is important - I visited a couple that had the depressing vibe you described, but then visited two others including the one we chose which didn’t feel like that at all.

I wouldn’t have chosen a childminder unless on personal recommendation, but if you can find someone good that might be a better option for a baby that hasn’t been used to seeing many people due to lockdown.

Tibtab Tue 04-May-21 11:43:33

Not all nurseries are grim but I agree that it is hard to find one at the moment. Plus the nicer one we found is more expensive than some of the less nice ones so it’s tight money-wise.
I had a 1 hr settling session with DD where I could sit with her in the nursery (I had to wear a mask) then 2x1 hr sessions on her own. She cried for the sessions on her own. Now she runs into nursery when she is dropped off and looks happy when we pick her up. Some babies take to nursery and some don’t, they are only young and it’s a big change.
She was 1 when she started in April so she is a lockdown baby too.

DarcyLewis Tue 04-May-21 11:49:19

Sounds like you would be better with a nanny or delaying until pandemic restrictions have eased.

OverTheRainbow88 Tue 04-May-21 11:58:38

Nurseries can be overwhelming for most kids when they first start, especially those who’ve not been around others. I’m lucky in that I didn’t have to choose one during a lockdown as my eldest went there.

I would get you child out and about socialising as much as possible as even if you do delay their start you’ll be in the same situation.

I would consider a child mjnder in your situation, you could meet them a lot in playgrounds first etc.

Not all nurseries are miserable, mine is in a 1930s converted house, is small, warmed friendly and welcoming

Waterdropsdown Tue 04-May-21 12:05:13

You definitely have other childcare options if you/your child don’t like the look of all day nursery. I also didn’t feel it right for my kids (plenty do, everyone has their own preferences and reasons). We did nanny till 2yr8m then childminder and at 3yr10m they (twins) started morning school nursery with the childminder taking them. It was all a bit accidental with the childminder as we moved house. I was so happy with the childminder, more so than the nanny. You can get childminders with very small settings (mine is small) or larger ones where they have assistants.

Woodpecker22 Tue 04-May-21 12:08:34

My 12 month old started with a childminder in January. Although I couldn't look round or do any formal settling in we did meet up a couple of times outdoors for a walk and a coffee so he could get used to her in my presence. She also sent over videos/photos of the setting to reassure me.

I wonder if the above might be possible for you if you have a chat with some local childminders. My LO has been very happy in the setting and it is a good balance of a small family feel but still allowing some socialisation. Until then he had only had contact with myself and my DH.

Radial5737 Tue 04-May-21 15:30:42

Thanks. I feel a bit despondent and a bit angry that the nurseries I have seen are so depressing considering the price! They looked under funded. The toys were tired, the rugs looked threadbare. The baby room today had no external windows. Also the staff member showing me round said the manager was away 'covering' maternity leave at another branch and so she was running around doing two peoples' jobs- receptionist and nursery manager! Surely a properly run business employs maternity cover rather than spreading staff thinly. It did not fill me with confidence! And this is a well known chain. It pisses me off they are just raking in money from parents who need to go back to work and not investing it in the facilities or staff. Presumably some business owner is getting a hefty salary. It sucks.

OP’s posts: |
DarcyLewis Tue 04-May-21 15:59:44

You’ll find the same with all nurseries to be honest - hard to make money out of them unless they keep things like staffing costs minimal (hence lots of young staff and “trainees”), legal minimum staff ratios, food budget as low as possible, resources costs low.

I’m sure I’ll now get lots of posters saying their only has experienced staff on well over minimum wage, low adult:child ratio, on-site chef producing organic meals etc but they seem to be hugely over represented on here compared to real life!

modgepodge Tue 04-May-21 16:18:33

I agree OP, lots of the nurseries I looked around had that feel to them. I found one I liked but of course it was the most expensive and had a waiting list of over a year.

My childminder let me come in to meet her and see her house in October when I was looking, and agin to sign paperwork. Used both as informal settling in sessions too, as my daughter was already attending a different childminder and did well on those 2 sessions we didn’t bother with any more. In fact in October I met 5 or 6 childminders and all bar 1 let me in their house to look around - the other let me in her garden and showed photos and let me look through the window at the playroom. So hopefully you might find some CMs who might let you in to see the setting and meet them properly?

modgepodge Tue 04-May-21 16:20:24

PS I wouldn’t worry about the social side of nursery with an under 1. My daughter is 2 and I feel she gets enough from seeing 2-3 other kids at the childminder. They don’t play together properly at that age anyway. At 3+ I think meeting more kids may be more beneficial.

Santastealer Tue 04-May-21 16:22:41

The thing with staying with them for settling in is that it then makes them think you will always be there. It just delays the separation rather than make it better in my experience. My son couldn’t understand why one week I was at playgroup with him, but the week after I was at work and wasn’t. It was far easier for him to learn that he goes to playgroup, mummy goes to work and get on with it.

LBOCS2 Tue 04-May-21 16:42:03

My elder never really settled at nursery, it just didn't suit her. She was much happier when we moved her to a childminder, and DD2 has always been really happy there too.

I think it depends on the personality of the child so much - nurseries really don't suit them all.

I'm also in deepest south London / Surrey borders and would be happy to recommend my childminder as she's an absolute star.

Onedaysomedaynowadays Tue 04-May-21 16:49:39

I think it really depends. My DC started at lovely small family run place at 6 months old and still goes there now and loves it. Never once cried when we dropped her off.

By contrast we visited childminders and hated them. It was all so dreary and seemed like they were just in it for the money.

I've had friends who've had the opposite experience so I think you just have to go with what suits you

Onedaysomedaynowadays Tue 04-May-21 16:50:47

Ps. Our nursery has always been keen on settling in by dropping them off and leaving quickly - that's not necessarily a pandemic thing

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