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Oh dear, not a good settling in session :(

(29 Posts)
Tweetinat Wed 24-Aug-11 18:51:34

DS (21m) just had his first proper settling in session with the CM today and it was a disaster. We've been there around 3 times together now, for a minimum of 1.5 hours each time but this was the first time I've tried to leave him on his own. I said goodbye as the CM took him outside to play and went on my way but apparently he immediately asked for me and when he couldn't find me quickly got hysterical, screaming and crying. She persisted with trying to calm him/distract him with all his favourite activities for around 30mins before she called me and asked me to come and collect him.

Although DS has been looked after by GPs before, this is the first time he's ever been left with someone else. Is this just the way it goes? Will it get better? What should we do now? This is the first mindee for CM as she has previously been a Nanny for 12 years (now has 8m old twins) and has never experienced such distress before sad She's going to call round her colleagues and ask their advice on how we proceed from here but I thought I'd ask for some help too!

Tweetinat Wed 24-Aug-11 18:53:48

Oh I should add that when I walked back in I tried to be matter of fact - 'oh, hi DS! I just had to pop home! What have you been up to with X and the twins? Can you show me?' and then we all went outside to sit together and chat. He wouldn't leave my side for about 20 mins or so but eventually calmed down enough to go off and play by himself so I hopefully did the right thing in trying to reassure him that the setting is 'safe'...

birdsofshoreandsea Wed 24-Aug-11 18:55:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ChippingIn Wed 24-Aug-11 18:56:09

Oh poor little poppet. Did you tell him he was going to stay and play with 'Jane' while you went and did 'some activity he hates - ie shopping' or did you say good-bye and go? Even though they might not speak a lot, they do understand and I think it's better to let them know what's going to happen. You need to talk to him and tell him that 'jane' will be looking after him while you have to 'go to work (or whatever) and that you will be back for him later.

It's a shame for 'Jane' to have this with her first mindee, but she's been a nanny - I'm suprised she was unable to handle an upset 20 month old tbh.

leeloo1 Wed 24-Aug-11 19:04:46

It doesn't sound that unusual tbh. Every little one is different and will react differently. Did you make sure your DS saw you leaving (uncertain about this as you said he was looking for you), as I think its much harder if you don't do a proper goodbye.

I'm a fan of the photo books (tomy I think on Amazon) where you can put in pictures and record messages - nursery rhymes are great. Also, in addition to whatever comfort toy he has with him, I would also take something of yours for him to keep - either a blanket that smells of home to cuddle up in, or an object he'll associate with you (keyring? scarf?). As you're saying goodbye next time, tell him 'You're going to stay and have a lovely play/snack with x. I need to go and do some jobs and I'll be back in a few minutes, can you look after this for me.'

If he's really very distressed (get CM to text you!) then do go back after 20 mins the 1st time, then he can see that you go and come back as you say you will.

What I wouldn't do is not leave him, when you've said you will, because he's distressed - as I think it really blurs boundaries and upsets DC more, as you're saying one thing and doing another. Whereas you need to show that you are positive, confident and upbeat and that you trust the CM to comfort him on your behalf.

I hope it gets better for you quickly. smile

apotomak Wed 24-Aug-11 19:17:08

I think she gave up to quickly. Maybe the twins and your little one at the same time is just too much for her to handle.
I had a crier too ... the first day was really bad but after I attempted to calm him down and it didn't work I just packed him into a pushchair and took him out to a playground he knew. He didn't cry there at all. After that we went home and he had no problems playing.

Tweetinat Wed 24-Aug-11 19:24:07

birds - Yes and no. Whilst I don't HAVE to go to work OR leave DS with CM (am self employed so can bring DS to what I do) I don't feel that it is fair to bring him to my classes 4 days a week and would like him to have fun doing other, more appropriate activities. I also have struggled being a SAHM and have found that starting my business has improved our relationship immensely. To take that away from me now would be a bit of a backward step and I would be fearful of getting depressed again. However, if there is no hope of him ever getting used to this stuation then I would definitely change my schedule. I don't want to just throw in the towel immediately iyswim?

chipping - I feel awful now but I think I probably took the easy option of just saying 'Mummy's going away but will be back soon, give me a kiss, love you, bye!'. I tried not to go on about it but perhaps I should have made it much more clear what would have been happening to him sad I think we've been skirting round the issue rather than coming straight out with it. He definitely understands what's going on... 'Jane' was actually brilliant with him and wasn't struggling to 'handle' him but didn't want him to go on being distressed any longer. I could hear her talking to him in the house before she heard me at the door and she was really calm and reassuring. I think she's just unsure about next steps more than anything as in her experience to date, she's always been the 'second' nanny where the kids have been used to being left before. She's not sure whether we should go straight again for a 30min/1hr leaving him or go back to joint visits iyswim?

fannybaws Wed 24-Aug-11 19:24:39

I hate to say it but her entire prority will naturally be her twins however professional she wants to be.

Have you got any other options available?

Tweetinat Wed 24-Aug-11 19:32:26

leeloo - I was holding DS while I was saying goodbye and then handed him over to CM to take him outside and immediately turned around so I'm not sure if he was looking at me go or not. By doing the handover in a transition between in/outside I think he must have got confused and thought I was in the house rather than gone.. great idea about the photo book - we actually have one already so I will dig that out and do some recording this evening smile Also love the idea about asking him to look after something of mine.. will have to have a think and see what he would associate with me... Totally agree about the not leaving him if I have said I will; I don't want to confuse him.

apotomak - I did wonder that too but she said the twins were great and just happily played while she looked after DS. I have to say they are extremely chilled babies and very content. It's definitely a learning curve for us both but there are some real advantages to this particular CM that make me want to perseve if I can.

Tweetinat Wed 24-Aug-11 19:33:45

fanny - no, not at the moment I don't. Unless I give up two days work but contractually I can't do that for at least 6 weeks for one of the days and 12 weeks for the other.

ChippingIn Wed 24-Aug-11 19:37:32

I think you need to talk to him (as I said before) explain what is going to happen and follow it through.

Don't go back to doing visits with him. I think too many 'joint' visits causes problems. If they are used to going there with you then they don't see why you can't just stay - if it's somewhere you take them and someone else looks after them then they get used to that - if you keep chopping and changing he wont know where he's at.

Just take him. Be matter of fact when you drop him off - don't go in, don't linger. Take him - kiss him good-bye and tell him you'll be back later.

Make sure 'Jane' has something arranged that he will enjoy (and if at all possible that he goes when someone else has the twins or they're asleep) so he has her undivided attention for the short time he's there.

It might take a few visits but he will settle. He will realise it's fun and that you come back for him. It's hard to leave them when they're upset - but needs must.

I do think you 'need' to do this - for him and for you. It is not good for children to only be with you, they need to have a circle of people they trust and they need to learn to trust that when you say you will be back - that you will be back.

You have to look after your own well being as well as his - for both of your sakes. Don't feel bad about needing/wanting to do this.

ChippingIn Wed 24-Aug-11 19:39:58

I don't think there's anything wrong with staying with 'Jane' - she sounds nice and I am sure she is quite able to balance the needs of all of the children. It is not fair to say her babies will come first - quite often with CM's their kids end up coming last!

cookielove Wed 24-Aug-11 19:43:40

I agree with everything leeloo said, i think she has some great and valid points in her post. I agree it was best to call you, as when settling you don't want a child in your care to be distressed for long periods of times. What you might find is that he may be better the next time you go as he now knows whats going to happen, although he might be worse, but i am sure he will get better.

I definitely think you should continue, i am sure you and your son will reap the benefits of great childcare very soon.

I second the idea of you giving him something that smells of you, tuck a muslin or some other comfort item up your top, and wear for a couple of days, that will help it smell of you and give it to him for his CM days.

Does he have a comforter that he can take with him?

kelly2000 Wed 24-Aug-11 20:39:16

I think he will get used to it. When I was a child I screamed blue murder when I was left at playschool, but I got over it. Is there any special toy he could have just at his CM's, so he likes going there more

thebody Wed 24-Aug-11 21:48:15

am cm and I would have given it longer than 30 mins tbh.

poor you though, its so horrible but you are doing the right thing and if you trust the setting and the cm then you know it will all work out all right in the end.

i had a crier for over 3 weeks, simply cried all day all of the time, i had her sister before her though and she was the same.. nearly killed me but I just treated her to the same attention as all the other children, didnt make a big deal out of it, and after 3 weeks a miracle occured and she just stopped and settled.. needless to say both girls are absolute poppets now and love to come..

i dont think its a case of trying this or that.. he just has to understand that hes safe in the setting and that you will come back for him and that can just take some children time to adjust to,

as chippin says you have to work and he has to learn to settle and be without you, otherwise he is in charge and manipulating the situation and not you..

think the comment about her twins coming first is a bit unfair..i can honestly say in my setting unfortunatly my own dcs nearly always come last

TheOriginalFAB Wed 24-Aug-11 21:53:51

I think the "going away" could have been the issue. Much better to say mummy is going to do x and I will be back after you have had tea/play/tv programme.

While someone with that many years nannying should know different ways to calm a child, she doesn't know your child very well yet so I wouldn't stress on that too much. Not sure I would be happy with her discussing my child with strangers but then I am a bit weird like that.

giraffesCantChaChaCha Wed 24-Aug-11 22:03:01

Agree with clearer going away. Dont think it sounds like a huge deal ( dont mean that to sound rude) I have had similar children, just takes time for some.

Explain to ds whats happening.
Fairly short returns.
When you have said bye then leave, no one more cuddle/turn round and stay for 5 more min - just confuses situation.
Made sure cm doing things he loves

Tweetinat Thu 25-Aug-11 13:43:19

Thanks for all the replies last night, especially those reassuring me that in the long run this will be a 'good thing' for me and my DS. I didn't make the decision to leave him with a CM easily and spent nearly a year deciding that my mental health needed to come first so that I could be a better mum all round, so it means a lot to me to have some of you supporting that.

I should have made it clearer in my OP that I was only leaving DS for a maximum of an hour or less if he was distressed, so I don't feel that she 'gave up' and called me back to early as I was expecting to be going back soon anyway. I also gave her permission to discuss the situation and DS with her CM friends who could offer input so I have no problems there.

We had a very long and constructive chat last night and interestingly enough she initially called to say that her friends were all advising (as here) that we shouldn't return to 'joint-visits' as that will only confuse him more and leave him uncertain as to when he will be on his own and when I will be there. So we have agreed a plan for the next week whereby she is initially going to meet us somewhere neutral so that DS can get used to her and confident in her company and then try again with very short 'solo' visits. She is giving up part of her weekend and bank holidays to do this and has enlisted her husband to come home from work on a couple of the days next week for an hour so that he can have the twins and she can give undivided attention to DS.

I will definitely be more specific about where I am going and what DS is going to do, as in hindsight that was definitely not done well.

Funnily enough DH and I expected him to have an unsettled night, possibly dreaming it through, and he slept 12 hours straight. A rarity only which can be counted on one hand!

Thanks for all the support - I'll let you know how it goes...

Anjelika Thu 25-Aug-11 13:55:44

Just a thought but, as the CM is "only" looking after your child alongside her twins, could she do a few sessions at your house to begin with? In other words, you leave your DS with her and the twins but he's in his own surroundings the first few times then when he's happy with that, she looks after him at her own house. I only suggest this because I've had about 5 different nannies looking after my 16 month old DTs this summer and they have adapted really well - just wondering if this is because they're in their home environment. They're going to be going to a CM very shortly (going round for 1st visit tomorrow) so it will be interesting to see how that compares to leaving them with someone in their own home. I'll be coming back here for advice I imagine!

leeloo1 Thu 25-Aug-11 18:16:01

smile Glad you and the CM are feeling positive. Can I also add that IME settling in only really properly gets going once the child is doing almost full days and that its usually easier if rather than the parent coming in and 'settling' the child they hand them over at the door and leave - then the CM can distract the child quickly with toys/food and the house/toys become 'their' territory, rather than something they associate with parents/being left by parents.

My settling in sessions now go something like:
- hour or so with child and parents
- 'week' (however many sessions child will be doing in a week) of half-days. (Usually drop-off coincides with a meal-time as this always distracts them! wink). At this point we start doing very quick handovers at the door at drop-off and longer chats at hometime to discuss how it went.
- week of almost-full days - usually leaving at 3-4ish, as they get very tired by the new environment.

I used to do far more shared sessions with the parents - with them gradually staying for a snack, then a meal, then a nap etc etc etc. I found that actually how the child is with you when the parent is there and when they're not are completely different and that they almost had to re-settle when they were without the parent.

Obviously all CMs are different in their approaches (and I'm certainly not claiming to be an expert), but I do think children settle better when they're there for longer, as then even if they're upset for a short time they get over it and have fun playing/eating/exploring etc - then the next time they'll associate the house with the fun bits IYSWIM. smile

apotomak Thu 25-Aug-11 18:28:17

Have you thought of making a transition book? I give one to the new child on first visit. It includes photos of my house. So for example I have a photo of my bathroom and a caption underneath saying this is where we wash hands. Photo of a table with chairs and some food on top and underneath This is were you'll eat and so on.Maybe this would help. Also you could make one with special things from your house. Like a photo of you and him, your pet and so on to keep at childminders.

ChildrenAtHeart Fri 26-Aug-11 00:26:15

I would agree with what most of the other posters have said. If you can avoid being there with the CM as much as possible it really does help. In your mind you may know you are going after 10mins but in your child's mind he doesn't know what you are thinking and if you hang around will assume you are staying. I think meeting in a neutral place has some potential if handled well and you leave your ds in her sole charge, otherwise I think it could confuse as well. You need to give a clear message of I love you very much. I'm going to do X job now & Jane will look after you. I will come & take you home after X job/lunch/tea etc & exude positive vibes, but be matter of fact rather effusive. Big hug & kiss & vanish. 1st time come back after 30m, next time an hour, next time 2 hours etc until he settles. It may get worse before it gets better, but it WILL get better.
Apotomaks book sounds great & something I keep meaning to do here. Giving something of yours to look after is good too. A course I went on about attachment & bonding suggested various ideas including an 'attachment bag' with various things from home/you in it inc photos & comforter, a heart cut in two & you have half each that you put together on your return, your house or car keys (duplicates or fakes ideally lol) as child will be sure you will return if they've got those! & a kiss you put in their pocket.

Tweetinat Sat 27-Aug-11 12:55:38

I just thought I'd come back and update the thread. Thanks to all the help from this thread DS has just come back from much better and happier session smile

As planned we met with CM yesterday but because of the awful weather she came round to our house without the twins. They had a fantastic time playing while I pottered around trying to leave them to it and he really had lots of fun. I am so glad that we did this as I really got to see how great she is with him and how she adapts her style to suit him and his interests. Warmed my heart to know that I'd made the right decision (although I did then start to think I was such an inadeqate mother as I could never play like that!!). When she was going I asked if he had fun and would like to play with her again to which he said 'yes' so I started to plant the seed that he could play at her house tomorrow while I went and did the shopping. He immediately asked 'Mumum?' as if to say I want you there too, but I said that I wouldn't be staying but would be back very soon. So I said this a few times last night and again this morning just so he was very clear about what would be happening.

Turned up at CM this morning and expected DS to be a bit wary but he wandered in no problems and immediately went to play with the playdoh she had laid out - so didn't have any negative associations which was good. I did a very quick handover and then said that I was going but would be back, gave him and kiss and walked away. He DEFINITELY knew what was going on this time and started to cry/scream immediately. Drove off to park 5 mins up the road (as planned) and expected a call within 10/20 mins to say he's hysterical but... nothing. After 50 mins I couldn't take the suspense any more so called to find out how it had gone... Amazingly well so it seems! After 5/10 mins of crying and asking for me she said it was like a switch flipped and he got distracted in opening a parcel the postman had delivered and never asked for me again! She said that not only did he calm right down, but that he was smiling and laughing, running round the house exploring. When I went back an hour later, he wasn't hanging around waiting for my return. He ignored the doorbell and continued playing and I stood chatting to CM for 3/4 mins in the hall before he turned around and saw me. And then I have to say that my heart melted as he gave me the biggest smile, said 'Mumum' and came running to me arms outstretched.

I can't believe how well it has all gone! Still early days and a few more sessions to go before his first full day but I am full of confidence that it will be okay and that he will have a fantastic and fulfilling time with CM. The little tips here have been invaluable (the photobook worked brilliantly) and I will suggest the orientation book too as I think that's a lovely touch. Sorry for the essay but I wanted to let you all know how well it has gone. Thank you smile

leeloo1 Sat 27-Aug-11 15:07:16

Awwwww! So happy its gone well for you! Well done for staying strong - and for picking a lovely CM. grin

ChildrenAtHeart Sun 28-Aug-11 23:11:52

That's great news. You may get the odd blip so be prepared but it sounds like you have the makings of a great & long relationship with your CM. smile

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