After being in a nanny share for the past year since returning to work, our son started nursery full-time this week.
This decision brought about a mixed bag of emotions (for me, mostly) but as the end of his first week draws to a close, I think more than anything that I just feel relief now.
Relieved that he is happy, relieved that I am happy, relieved that the Greek God(zilla) is happy… and relieved that we are not in a nanny share anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, his former nanny was a sweet girl and she was very active with the children. Every day, she would take them to the park, local farms, Caterpillar Music, Sing & Sign classes, the zoo and softplay, as well as various playgroups and libraries. She was also friendly with a network of local nannies so the kids got to spend lots of time with other children in the area at organised playdates and parties.
We initially shared a nanny with another little girl, who is about 6-months older than our son and the two of them got on so well. She is a gorgeous little thing and really looked after him. He learnt a lot from her and copied all her cute mannerisms and words.
It worked out really well and we were all happily plodding along for a few months until sadly that share ended when it was time for her to attend nursery.
So, we searched for a new family to share with and found another little girl, who is is 6-months younger than our son. She is also a gorgeous thing and the two of them became really good buddies. I would come home from work and find them chasing each other around the house laughing their heads off. It was lovely to see.
So, why the change?
For one thing, there was the expense. Even sharing a nanny was proving to be rather expensive. On top of her monthly net salary, there was the tax and NI to pay every quarter.
On top of that was the cash needed to cover all of the children’s activities. There was the nanny’s petrol expenses. There was a bigger food bill – 3 meals a day for 2 toddlers AND the nanny. There was an initial layout for a double buggy, an extra car seat, a high chair and travel cot.
During the transition period between families, we had to cover all the costs on our own for over a month, which was quite a sting after Christmas!
Anyway, expense aside there was also the organisation needed to make sure the share ran smoothly.
As well as working full-time, we would need to plan activities and menus for the week ahead. However, this was a piece of cake compared to trying to co-ordinate holidays.
For our part alone, we had to work around each of our work schedules and those of our boss before even considering when the rest of our family might be able to take time off. If by any chance we managed to find two weeks that suited everyone, we then had to try and work that around the other family in the share and the nanny.
It was all very complicated and stressful. Especially when your nanny wants to take 2-weeks in October, we planned to take our 2 weeks in August and the other family needed July.
So anyway, expense and organisation aside, there was then also the unplanned time off to take into consideration.
Unfortunately, our nanny had to have quite a bit of time off – over 20 days sickness in the first half of this year. Obviously, we sympathised completely with her and were incredibly kind and supportive, but it did leave us in a bit of a pickle with regards to our childcare.
The Greek God(zilla) had to work from home on a few occassions, I took days out of my holiday allowance, my parents helped us out a bit. Another family let us share their nanny for a day here and there.
I was really starting to feel the pressure from all angles and after one particularly stressful day when our nanny had called to say she would not be in work the following day and I had been unsuccessful in securing any alternative childcare for him, I just broke down in tears on the drive home. There had been a few other issues too, which I won’t go into on here, but nonetheless, it all contributed to the stress I was feeling and I knew then that something had to change and that the arrangement was no longer working for us.
Eventually, I had a very open and honest conversation with the other mum in the share and she agreed it wasn’t working too. It was a huge relief for both of us to get it off our chests and realise we were feeling the same way.
It took a few more months for us to finally decide that we wanted our son to go to nursery full-time when he turned two – we were not sure if he was ready, we worried he would miss the other girl too much, we didn’t want to unsettle him. It was tough.
After much to-ing and fro-ing and tossing and turning we made the call to leave the nanny share. His last day with his nanny was just before we went on holiday so he had two fun filled weeks with his family before starting in nursery properly on Tuesday.
He has been fine. Not brilliant, but fine. The first day we were both in tears when I left. The second day he cried a bit throughout the day, the third day he wouldn’t eat lunch with everyone else. He has been used to one-on-one attention for so long, I suppose it must take some getting used to for him!
Each day he has settled in a little bit more though. Today when we arrived at the nursery, there was a lovely surprise waiting for him at the breakfast table… his friend from the nanny share! She is in the nursery 3 days a week too so they will still be together, which makes me feel much much happier. I could almost see a sunset in the direction they toddled off into. Or maybe it was just an orange glow from my holiday tan. Either way works for me.
What are your good and bad childcare experiences?