When Your Toddler Isn’t Ready For Nursery

My toddler, Florence, at almost 19 months old, is much like her older brother, Xander, now 10 years old, in both looks and personality: long, spiral ringlets, a cheeky glint in their eye, adventure/danger seekers (help) and most recently (in Florence’s case) a distinct aversion to nursery. Xander only settled in to his nursery, six months before starting school. Told you they were similar.

Both simply want to be with their Mama as first choice and who could blame them!

My first child, Oliver, an independent, mature, old soul thrived at nursery. He ran in on his first day without a second glance at me (which was bitter sweet, as so much of parenting is).

Xander would cry and cry at drop-off, pleading to stay with me, even at the age of 4.

Kids are naturally attached to their parents and we to them. Nursery is a huge milestone and step on their journey for independence. It hit hard with all my kids but knowing Florence is my final baby, hits the hardest.

It feels unnatural and frankly, painful, for us to be apart.

I was, however, keen to trial one or two days a week at nursery so I could write and shoot uninterrupted and perhaps spend fewer weekends working.

I can thankfully work remotely and flexibly but thought a little more weekday productivity would go a long way whilst retaining my 2 day work week…

I found the most perfect nursery I’d ever laid eyes upon that had opened up a few months prior and managed to secure a spot (despite the waiting list as I was flexible with days): it was Montessori in teaching style, Scandinavian in decor with an experienced, caring team behind it.

The place is so chic that after the house we were due to buy, fell through, I’d joked with the owner I’d like to move in myself.

I had high hopes for Florence there but when it came to the second settling-in session where it was time to leave her with caregivers for a short time (before further days of settling-in), she cried so much that her delicate, usually happy face transformed into a hot, blotchy crimson mess usually reserved for marathon runners, leaving me in tears myself.

I’d never seen her as upset in her whole (albeit little) life and I couldn’t bear to perservere.

I know she would have settled (they all do evenutally, even Xander) but because I didn’t need her to start nursery, I couldn’t continue.

This was on me, not the wonderful nursery or teachers. I just couldn’t go through that initiation process of letting go, nor could she, at that point in time.

My mum, a former teacher, told me in her words, ‘she lives to help me care for her grandchildren’, even if most of the time we end up hanging out as a three when she does-hence me writing at midnight but ut works for us all, for now.

I shoot and write editorial when Florence naps in the day and film ad campaigns, which require more time and focus, on some of the weekend when my husband, Peter, is around to help.

So that’s my update. Florence isn’t in formal childcare currently.

Maybe I’ll give it another go when she turns two years old.

We still haven’t found a house we want to buy in Yorkshire so I’ve no idea where we’ll be based but I’m hoping/ manifesting the perfect family home for us, ideally by Florence’s birthday, and mine five days later, in November, or by Christmas at the very latest, and hopefully close enough to the dreamboat of the nursery I found.

Third baby in though, I’m not in any mad rush for milestones to be honest, it’s rather like having your first baby in reverse.

I know I’m priviledged to have my wonderful Mum helping me raise my kids, which is one of the main reasons we relocated back to Yorkshire (and my husband is hands-on the minute he finishes work) so nursery not working out just yet, isn’t the end of the world for us.

Florence attends toddler classes, play dates and library sing-alongs each week with other kids her age and she blossomed into a social butterfly thanks to them, chatting away to everyone she meets, keen to play and engage with others.

So who knows what will materialise…

Maybe Florence will be by my side until she starts school at almost five or perhaps she’ll settle in quickly if we try again when she’s a little older-and we both find that we’re ready.

Being an experienced mum of three now, I know to trust my gut and the timing of our lives.

Mama really does know best.

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