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How much nursery is appropriate?

(10 Posts)
DevonianMummy Thu 05-May-16 13:36:48

Hi there mums,

I'm in the throes of making some big life decisions - that classic mummy balancing battle between motherhood and career. Does anyone have any advice or good sources of research about the effects of daycare on young children? I've been reading lots of conflicting articles on the internet, but some are very alarming about the impact daycare can have on children under two emotionally, and the potential for it to cause behavioural problems later in life.

Now, my little girl is now two and a half (33 months to be precise) and has been at nursery four days a week since the age of 1, three days a week since 10 months, with her days averaging out at being from 9.30-4pm. These decisions were made to accommodate my work commitments at the time, and factoring in that there are no grandparents available to step in, nor can Daddy, who also needs to work.

I am now on maternity leave with my baby son. I opted, without much research, but instinctively, to keep my little girl's nursery time the same after his birth, to keep her routine the same, to ensure she could be somewhere where she wasn't having to compete with her new sibling being cooed at and taking limelight away from her, and - the main reason - to keep her entertained and stimulated while I was spending all my time sitting around breastfeeding. She's the kind of child to need a lot of activities, and boredom does become an issue when I'm busy with the baby. Baby's now coming up for seven months so breastfeeding is taking less time, and the juggling act between the two of them is easier. But I then thought, well, I may as well keep her hours the same now until I start back at work in September, rather than disrupt her schedule and then change it back again.

[B][B]However, I'm now strongly considering not going back to work[/B][/B] in the same capacity, perhaps delaying going back at all for a year (I'm fortunate to be able, just about, to afford to do that) or going back on far fewer hours. My son is due to start at the same nursery in August, when he'll be ten months, building up to the same hours as my daughter by the time he's one.

[B]But is this the right decision? [/B]I'm not confident I made the right decision on childcare for my daughter, and judged the balance correctly between work and motherhood. She seems really happy at nursery, talks fondly of it, looks forward to it, has loads of friends, and it's a really great high quality place. I think now she's coming up to three, on balance it's probably an age-appropriate stimulating and psychologically healthy place for her to spend some of her days. However what I'm reading is leading me to believe that daycare isn't really the best option for under twos who need as much one-on-one attention as possible in order to feel emotionally secure. So I'm contemplating not sending my son to nursery, or at least not for nearly as many hours. I don't think I can afford a nanny, and if I'm honest I struggle emotionally with the idea of sort of hiring a replacement mum. I'm undecided on whether I'm cut out to be a full time mum. I'm agonising over this at the moment! I love my time with my children and the whole job of motherhood, even the rubbish bits, far more than anything I've ever done but I do think I may need just a little bit of work in order to keep my identity and sanity fully intact.

Please excuse such a long thread. I'd really love your honest feedback and any advice. Do I cut my daughter's nursery hours right down and just accept that her life will be a little less exciting with me and baby then it will be at nursery (I'm good at taking them out for lots of activities, and I of course do things like painting and cooking with my daughter as much as possible - but I can't compete with the pace and scope that they offer at nursery) Do I send my son to nursery at all while he's still a baby? Should I be waiting until he's two ideally?

Thanks so much for your help! xx

uhoh2016 Thu 05-May-16 19:44:19

1st of all stop reading crap on studies etc. There's no right or wrong amount I find its a case of needs /must. It's whatever is right for you and your family circumstances. If you had GP around available to help with childcare would you have sent dd so many days or would you have split it between them?? Personally I would have split the time but purely on a financial aspect rather than how much I thought dc should or shouldn't be at nursery.
Keeping your dd in nursery whilst you've been off I think it's a good idea a new baby is a big disruption to their little lives so the normality of nursery would have been good for her.
I wouldn't send ds to nursery if your not going back to work just yet - what's the point??? No point paying for someone to look after your child whilst your at home all the time. You can go to play groups or soft play etc to get him socialised and used to different surroundings.
Also could you afford 2 lots of nursery fees if your not working?

DevonianMummy Thu 05-May-16 21:02:36

Thanks for your reply. You are right that reading studies can do more harm than good: I'm now more confused than ever! I may have been a bit unclear - I wasn't planning to send DS to nursery while I'm off, I meant when I return to work, but I'm as yet undecided whether to return to work at all. This is my dilemma.

I definitely would have opted to use GP if that had been an option. Oh well, can;t be lucky in everything.

Thanks for your reassurance that continuing DD in nursery after the disruption of the new baby was probably the right thing to do, it felt right, but I did feel guilty about it, especially when she would say in the morning that I had to go to work when I knew I was just staying right where I was!!

sunnydayinmay Thu 05-May-16 21:07:37

I really wouldn't over think it. There is no absolute right or wrong.

I left ds1 in nursery (25 hours per week over 5 days) when ds2 was born. It enabled me to sleep, and spend time with ds2, whilst ds1 kept his routine.

Ds2 started the same hours at 7 months. I enjoy work, it meant I could keep going in a career, and gave me time with the dcs. But, that is what suited me.

nephrofox Thu 05-May-16 21:12:37

Everything you've done up to now you did for the right reasons at that time.

If you want to stay off work with your son a bit longer then that's fine too. Your DD could just do the free preschool hours for social benefits?

Kennington Thu 05-May-16 21:17:31

It depends on the child too. My dd was v confident and enjoyed it there but I saw others who weren't so keen.
If their personality is quite outgoing and they don't mind noise it can be great.
I did a mix of grandparents and nursery. Is part time a good option for you?

Pico2 Thu 05-May-16 21:32:00

My DD loved nursery, was very sociable and confident. Keeping her in nursery until she started school was the right choice for her.

NickyEds Thu 05-May-16 21:48:29

Bah, don't read studies, you'll go nuts! There are just too many variables in child care, it's probably best to do what works best for you. Every second time mum I know with an older dc in nursery kept at least some of the nursery days (as many as they could afford)to give themselves time with the baby and keep the place. I'm a SAHM and there are pros and cons. When dd was born ds was 19 months and didn't go to nursery or anything. We started him in preschool as soon as he turned two!! It was, and still is nice to have a couple of hours just with dd. How flexible could your work be?

DevonianMummy Thu 05-May-16 22:15:28

Thanks everyone. I think to find a more part time work I will realistically be looking at having to find a new job altogether...but you never know. I'll keep thinking and weighing up my options, choosing between the work part of myself and the mother part. Part of the womanly experience isn't it! So easy for (most) men!

trilbydoll Thu 05-May-16 22:24:37

Nursery has definite pros, but it depends on the child. DD1 bounced in and never looked back, she didn't ever cry when I dropped her off. She was made for nursery! DD2 so far is not quite so enthusiastic.

I don't think they get much out of nursery until 18m but I think they settle easier if they're little. So I would put a 12mo in for a couple of sessions if I could afford it and thought I'd need it 6m down the line.

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