Walking back down the path I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.
What if she cried the whole day?
What if she wondered where I was?
It took all my strength to keep on walking, to walk out of the gate and drive myself home.
But while I sat at home watching the clock, there was a little girl having the best time of her life playing dolls, playdough and trains back where I’d left her.
Because as much as I was wishing the time away, she was ready for this day. She was ready to fly the nest and spread her wings without me there.
My little girl was growing up.
It’s hard, isn’t it?
One minute you are looking down at your newborn baby and the next you are waving them goodbye as they enter the world of schooling.
As a parent, you want to keep your child safe and happy at all times. So handing them over to a nursery or pre-school is a huge step in a parenting journey and one that so many of us struggle with.
How can you make the first day go smoothly?
Take them for a visit. It is so important that they see their new environment before the big day – at least once if not a few times. Show them around, point out activities and toys that you know they enjoy at home so you can refer back to them later.
Talk to the staff. If you can tell them likes and dislikes, people of importance, any allergies and anything at all that can help them to get to know your child, it will help them to settle your child in quicker.
Read books. There are so many books around this subject and they are a great way to help prepare little ones for this step. Reading about a character having a happy and successful day can help them to mentally prepare for their own big day. As a child, my favourite was Frankie’s First Day by Gordon Lingard and the girls love Starting School by Janet and Allan Ahlberg.
Quick goodbyes. As a teacher, I can tell you that quick goodbyes are always the best way to leave. As a parent, I can tell you it is extremely difficult to put them into practice. But keep a smile on your face, tell them you will be back at the end of the session and that you love them. They will be in safe hands.
Plan a distraction for yourself. Sitting at home watching the clock is torture, believe me. The nursery will call you with an update usually and of course, they would always ring if there was a problem. So make a plan to see friends, even better if you are all going through it together.
Having seen two of my children start nursery, I can tell you they do settle and it does get easier saying goodbye. They learn so much and their confidence can soar with new friends and new experiences each week.
And at the end of the day, they will come out with a big smile on their face and a splatter of paint on a piece of paper for you to stick on your fridge – best day ever.
Have you got a little one starting nursery or pre-school? How are you feeling about it all?