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Is nursery good for my child? or, is it good for me? I really need a reality check...

(43 Posts)
Chandra Thu 31-Mar-05 00:44:54

OK, I have spent last night reading Stephen Biddulph's The Secret of Happy Children, specifically the chapter where he concentrates on the long term effects a child may,or according to the author, "might" suffer if deprived from his/her mother presence and sent to nursery.

Anyways... I never paid much attention to his views on nurseries as my child (25m old) has become very sociable since attending one. However, reading through that chapter yesterday I realised that my son displays two characteristics that the author claims children who are suffering the effects of the nurseries do have: He doesn't want to come with me after nursery time, which I thought was due to him enjoying the playing; and some other thing that I really don't think is exclusive to nursery children.

Before reading the book I was watching Jamie's school dinners which had already given me enough worries even before reading Biddulph's book.

And finally, when I went to pick him up this afternoon, I was told by the manager that we needed to sort up DS's attending time as he was obviously distressed because he was not having naps during the day as I was picking him up 15m-30min after lunch, when most children are already being taking the afternoon nap -He attends two full days and 3 half days-. I told her that DS was sleeping at home (which he does) and she looked so surprised that I got the idea that she didn't believe me, I still don't understand why she was making such a fuss...DS is a lovely placid child, for one time that he decides that he doesn't want to go to sleep and throw a tantrum is not the end of the world, is it?. Anyways, I went to the room and found DS who had been crying for quite a while, and although he came to me when he saw me, it took him another couple of minutes to stop crying. I asked them what he had for lunch and bingo!!! fish fingers and baked beans! (...more on Jamie Oliver's program ). Besides, I have asked them not to give him baked beans as he is allergic to tomatoes and although the way he was acting was out of proportion and surely non related to his tomato allergy, it made me wonder about what kind of food he is given and if my instructions regarding the allergies are not dealt with as seriously as they should. So, we have agreed to change DS schedule, so instead of taking him in the mornings, I will take him in the afternoon, after he has had lunch and a nap at home.

DS started attending nursery while I was studying. When I finished a couple of months ago, we decided to let him stay at the nursery as he seemed to be enjoying it so much, also because we don't speak English at home. Because the nursery is also the only place where he can have contact have with other children of his age (we don't know any other). Because I may find a job and wouldn't like to go through the problem to get a space in the nursery again. And yes, because with my PND, both DS and me end up having a very long day, which I believe is not completely good for any of us.

I have not found a job but I'm going back to University on October, at the moment I am trying to advance some of the research, but TBH I could take care of DS at home and forget about the research until October, or even forget about going back to study at all, but given what I have said above, I'm not sure if taking him out of nursery will be more benefitial to him than leaving things as they are atm.

I'm very shy and bad at small talk so I find the idea of going to mother and toddler groups terrifying, I have tried it but I have hated it. We don't have any family around, and our friendships are rather superficial as most of the people we get to know moves out of the city as soon as they can (Why am I still here I will never know). So, DS would have a very lonely social life if he stops going to the nursery.

So the question is (finally), am I doing what is best for him? or should I forget about the nursery and take care of him myself? or is this just some over the top mid night ramble?

Oh Gawd! am I doing the right thing?

bubble99 Thu 31-Mar-05 00:53:31

Chandra. Have you had a look at any other nurseries in your area? Is your nursery a "chain nursery?" Food is an essential part of a child's education. IME the chain nurseries serve absolute junk, yet boast about "nutritionally balanced food freshly prepared ingredients" in their brochures.

Chandra Thu 31-Mar-05 00:58:34

No, is not. Though I believe the owner has 4 nurseries I would not think of it as a national chain. In general, the nursery has been very good, the children look happy, friendly and they are very well bahaved. Staff rotation is minimal which I believe it's a good point. And food... well, it was not like this in the baby room but now that he is with the toddlers... I'm not sure, I supose I should have a serious conversation with them about the food...

bobbybob Thu 31-Mar-05 01:29:57

They simply cannot have a go at you for his behaviour if they have fed him a food he is allergic to. That shocks me.

Nathanmum Thu 31-Mar-05 02:21:24

I would try talking to them about the food, but see how it goes with afternoons only for a little while. If they give him something you have explicitly told them not to, of course there will be a comeback. What if it was a peanut allergy?

wordsmith Thu 31-Mar-05 06:41:37

Chandra, they should respect your wishes re certain foods, but IMO the food served in nurseries is as bad as that in schools. The only way you can be totally sure about everything is to remove him from nursery.

BUT... that's not practical if you need/want to work. For some of us whose parents are not around/too old or unwilling to help out full time/don't have other family support with childcare, paid childcare is unavoidable. I looked into all sorts of childcare with my DS1 5 years ago, and day nursery seemed to me to offer the best solution in terms of continuity of care and flexibility.

I am 85% happy with the nursery her (and now DS2) went to, but there will always be things I'm not so happy with (DS2 gets fish fingers and chips at 1 yr old!). However, HE seems happy which is the main thing. At the age of 2 DS1 didn't usually want to come to me after nursery, and it WAS due to him enjoying himself! He's now at school and has had no problems settling in at all. IMO in reception class you can tell the kids who have been to nursery - they are more confident and have fewer problems separating from their mums.

If you are not working ATM why don't you reduce his hours there for a while? Just do the 2 whole days or something? That was you won't disrupt his naps (if that was actually happening, which it seems not) and reduce your feelings of disquiet?

I couldn't manage/have managed without nursery for my DSs (they both do/did 2 days/week). IMO there are always going to be books or reasearch telling you that nurseries or any form of childcare is going to be bad for your children. They're normally followed up by books and research telling you exactly the opposite. However as far as I am concerned, some of us have to work, either as a financial imperative or because we'd go up the wall if we didn't. And the continuity of care and reassurance that children get at nursery is, frankly, better than grandma 1 on Monday, grandma 2 on Tuesday, childminder on Wednesday, playgroup on Thursday etc. (At least I think so, but others may disagree.) PLus I agree with you about Mum and Toddler groups, I really don't like them, but by DS2 going to nursery 2 days a week I can avoid them, be reassured that he is being wwell cared for, get my work done, and enjoy the other days when I can play with him or do our own thing!

wordsmith Thu 31-Mar-05 06:44:57

Also meant to add that perhaps you could send him in with sandwiches or something that could be reheated, and give him a meal in the evening, if that would help? It seems food is your only gripe with the nursery (as it is with mine) and it would be a shame to ignore all the good points. Wait till he gets to school, the food there is worse. (Hopefully JO will have had an effect by the time your DS gets that far!)

FairyMum Thu 31-Mar-05 07:08:37

I think nurseries are good for children, but it's important to find a nursery you are happy with!
I wouldn't worry about this one book you have read if your child seems happy. I grew up in Sweden and in Scandinavia children have gone to nursery for generations and are absolutely fine. I have also carried screaming children who don't want to leave out of nursery and of course it's because they want to stay to finnish off what they were doing.

I am the same as you with mother and toddler-groups. I am not a shy person and normally quite good at small-talk if I go to a dinner-party for example, but there is something about most mother and toddler groups which makes me run for my life.

sahara Thu 31-Mar-05 07:19:06

Morning everyone
I think nursery is good for children. I went to a nursery and my parents say I loved it.
Ds1 went, loved it. Ds2 is now asking constantly to go and I am really looking forward to September so that I can take him.
He will get to socialise with other kids and play alot.
I think that their should be more nurseries (but thats another issue).
It's not so that I can go to work. I know I'm a SAHM until DD1 is in full time school.
Nursery is fun for the child who is ready to socialise.

Chandra Thu 31-Mar-05 10:05:43

Yep, peanut allergy... that's what worries me as he has had a reaction to peanuts recently and we are still waiting for DS to be diagnosed, in the mean time we have been told to deal with it as if he had it. How can I be sure then that the nursery will be careful enough not to give him things that may contain nut traces?

But the question is am I too selfish by sending him to nursery so many days when obviously it is not absolutely required? someway I'm already fearing the answer...

wild Thu 31-Mar-05 10:19:16

Of course you are not selfish, for a start you would not be agonising about the pros and cons if you were! it is hard to get a place, as you say, what is the point in disrupting ds by taking him out of nursery only to put him in again when you start uni, and no, don't give up on uni! My ds can be a demon if he does not have sleep when he needs it but this is just as likely to happen at home - at 25 months you're coming up to tricky two's! I agree, sort out the food situation but otherwise he sounds happy and settled, and just cos you're not sitting at a desk every minute he's out of your sight does not make you a bad mum. I used to send ds full-time even when I worked 3 days a week! as for mother and toddler, I have never done this and the very thought makes my toes curl. Sounds like you are doing fine for your son Chandra, we have no need as mums to heap all this agony on ourselves! try and enjoy the relative quiet before next academic year....

miranda2 Thu 31-Mar-05 10:24:36

NOt selfish at all. He likes it there, he'd probably get bored at home with you all the time now he's used to having friends around all day (my ds spent the whole easter weekend asking 'is it a nursery day today?' and being quite disappointed when it wasn't!). Plus you need the time for yourself. Anyway, he'd have to start again in October so it would be disruptive to take him out just for a few months.
Plus, for what its worth on the food front, apart from the tomato allergy (which I would speak to them about again), it doesn't strik me that fishfingers and baked beans is particularly unhealthy. I think we can go over the top with worrying about food. Yes, chips every day isn't good, but fishingers and beans has fibre, protein, etc and not even that much fat. Would be best if they were reduced salt and sugar beans, but really I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Chandra Thu 31-Mar-05 11:13:43

I feel a bit guilty if I am not doing something all the time that justifies DS attending nursery, actually... I think I have been in Mumsnet for 2 hrs this morning... ooops.

wordsmith Thu 31-Mar-05 11:16:26

Chandra, whatever works for you. I would love to be able to afford a third day at nursery for DS2, I could get more work done and have some me time to go to the gym or something....

foxinsocks Thu 31-Mar-05 11:20:53

haven't read this all chandra but I would be VERY wary of any nursery that fed a child food that he was allergic to. My dd attended a national nursery and it fed her sunshine banana in the morning despite her having a serious (though not life threatening) dairy allergy at the time. Her health deteriorated so badly (I hadn't figured out why) that I had to give up work to look after her - it was only afterwards that I realised what had happened. Some time later, a child with the same allergy at the same chain of nurseries (though not the same branch) was fed the same thing and went into anaphylactic shock and died. I really would not accept ANY excuse for feeding a child food it is allergic to.

On the social front, your child is not far off being 2 and a half which is when most children (though some wait till they are 3) start attending pre-school anyway. I would stick it out IF you think it is the right place for him. I would definitely look at other nurseries if you feel they are not attending to his needs properly.

Blu Thu 31-Mar-05 11:35:29

Chandra - It sounds as if, a few practical issues aside, which can be sorted out, your DS is absolutely thriving at nursery. I do find it astounding that after generations and generations in which rich children were left in a nursery with nanny/governess and poor children with some kind of childminder, then a brief post-war interval where the full-time sahm and housewife (which is not how we view sahm's these days, ideally) became the norm, commentators (S Biddulph and Oliver James) have suddenly decided that there is a fraction of a percentage chance of children who go to nursery might be this or that. That boys are violent, I think. Well, as Fairymum says, it is the norm for Scandinavian children to go to nursery, and Scandinavia seems a particularly peaceful and civilised group of countries to me!
If you can sort out the practical issues - food and sleeps - you are the best judge of whether your DS is happy, not a writer of a book who has never met the individual child. remember - all those statistics are made up of hundreds of 'normal' children with a few who adjust the figures.

I'd like one of these bloody men to do a study on the debilitating effects of unneccesary guilt on women's excellent parenting! oops - am I ranting [grin}
Good luck.

Chandra Thu 31-Mar-05 12:29:16

Thanks Wordsmith, you are right. I should be enjoying more the the time I have to do other things rather than spending the time feeling guilty about it.

Foxinsocks, I will speak to the nursery tomorrow... though the tomato allergy just brings out a rash, I should really insure that my instructions are respected, until we are completerly sure that he doesn't have a nut allergy we can not risk another mistake.

Blu, you are so right!!! ("I'd like one of these bloody men to do a study on the debilitating effects of unneccesary guilt on women's excellent parenting!" )

Chandra Thu 31-Mar-05 12:34:37

Blu, talking about the postwar housewife... I'm sure they raised their children at home but surely they were not so stressed with so many development and behavioural milestones as we are... I don't imagine many postwar mothers wondering about the levels and quality of socialisation oportunities their children where receiving. The image of children wandering free in open countryside while mum was busy doing household chores or atteding a Tupperware meeting comes to my mind. Oh! those golden years! I wish I could rest assured that my child food is healthy because it had been stored in a plastic container... sigh!

pinotgrigio Thu 31-Mar-05 12:40:15

Chandra - I'm about to finish work and be a SAHM mum. My DD (2.4) goes to nursery 2 days per week at the moment and has a nanny the rest of the time.

When work stops, I will take over from the nanny but continue to send DD to nursery 2 days per week. My feeling is that she needs time with other children, to also get used to not having the constant 1 on 1 that a nanny gives, and to give her extra experience outside of the home. As others have said, I think this will prepare her for pre-school.

If DS is happy, then don't feel guilty. Get as much work done as possible, feel safe that he is enjoying himself and spend the other days concentrating on him without worrying about your research or ironing. Also, as you say, it will benefit his English and might also give him a social circle once birthday parties etc start to happen.

If you have concerns about the nursery then you can move him. I have already moved DD from one nursery because I wasn't happy (after move from under 2s to over 2s) and am probably moving her again because of issues with the new nursery (suspect the food isn't what they are telling me it is and also heard one member of staff shouting at a pre-schooler). Don't forget it is easier to move them and do the settling in period while you're not working.

decmum Thu 31-Mar-05 12:44:12

Having read Stephen Biddulphs books on boys I too went away and thought about the long-term evils of nursery.
I also experienced exactly the same issue with regards to the food but I wrote to the nursery about this and (I kid you not) they changed the menus for the whole's not perfect now...still baked beans once a week and the odd fish finger but lots more fruit and veg and no more turkey twizlers.
Time has since passed and my conclusions are...
1. Boys struggle more with the social aspects of work/school IMO and nursery for part of the week is a great way of teaching them these skills from a young age.
2. Like yours my DS seems to love the activity and comaraderie(?) of nursery.
3. This is balanced with lots of one on one attention with DP and me during the rest of the week.
4. One serving of Baked Beans a week is fine when balanced with a good diet the rest of the time.
My advice (for what it's worth) is address the nursery with your comments. Approach it with the tone of 'I was a little hurt' and 'am obviously concerned about my precious son' and 'I only have limited time to interact with you and your staff' tone...i.e. not pointing the finger of blame. You could also address this through your parent rep if you have one. Bottom line is that any good nursery will act swiftly and respond to your concerns maturely. If they don't then it's probably the wrong nursery.
Hope this all helps.

wordsmith Thu 31-Mar-05 12:48:18

Yes I think worrying about things is one of the major causes of stress esp for working mums. But like Blu says, working mums have always been the norm historically and even those who didn't have to work had nannies so they could 'gad about'!

The vast increase in choice for women over the last 50 years has been brilliant - we can do more or less whatever we want. But when you become a mum you still come banging up against this biological imperative about looking after the kids. In many cases, women want to give up paid employment or go part time to achieve this, but in some cases they don't - as I said, each to her own. I don't think any mother making informed and caring decisions about childcare for her children is harming them in any way. The child rarely suffers. But boy, the mother certainly does. For a start you're bombarded with messages that you should 'stay at home' and be a 'good' mother - but having spent years in expensive tertiary education followed by even more years climbing the greasy pole of career development to reach the sunny plateaus of business success, you're suddenly expected to GIVE IT ALL UP???? what was the point of struggling in the first place? On the other hand, if you don't give it all up, and carry on with the glittering career, you get stigmatised by your non-mother and male colleagues, frowned upon because you can't or won't work late, held back for promotion and constantly frazzled by trying to juggle too many balls.

You really can't win. Whatever you choose to do, you will be criticised by someone who is is the enviable position of knowing for certain that they are doing the right thing.

What a rant. And perhaps it belongs on another thread....

bundle Thu 31-Mar-05 13:08:17

s biddulph is arse, imo, but you do need to be 100% happy with the childcare you choose otherwise it defeats the object

Chandra Thu 31-Mar-05 13:13:44

I aprreciate your comments Wordsmith and I don't think they belong to other thread . Someway I think I gave up on all that years before the arrival of DS: I spent my life dreaming with a career in design, worked hard to get the position I wanted and then fell in love with a lovely foreign national who had no intention to migrate to my home country.. anyways as a result we moved to tEngland where we both are foreigners, no family around, no lifelong friendships, I don't have a career anymore nor the chance to rebuild it (unless I paint my face white I will not get a job other than washing-up in a restaurant if we stay in this little town), so I have ended up with the life that I have so hardly fight against it. Curiously enough I believe that at the end my cultural heritage (shut up and support your DH in whatever he thinks is right) played a very important role in my decissions, even when I have been against that idea all my lifelong. Unfortunately, it's a bit late to try to change the outcome as there's not much in terms of jobs in our respective cities to go back to, but I guess I would not be so worried about the social life of DS if we had all the cousins and friend's children around.

Blu Thu 31-Mar-05 15:05:29

Chandra LOL at Tupperware scenario and modern worries!

Enid Thu 31-Mar-05 15:18:09

He goes quite a lot - he could be very tired, could you cut the hours that he goes? Maybe just 3 half days a week?

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