Fear and abandonment: The nursery trip

After the event

She sat in the coffee house, fumbling with her purse, making sure she had some spare change to make her purchase. She glanced at the menu on the wall, then back to the person behind the counter. He was busy preparing somebodies drink. She glanced behind her, just to check that a queue hadn’t formed. Glancing at her watch, she took out her phone, and again digested the time that displayed in the top corner. It was only two hours to wait, but the second hand was ticking by slowly and the pain in her chest was increasing dramatically. He was gone.

She had never left him with anyone else, let alone a stranger. This stranger didn’t even know how to cuddle him. It wasn’t simply a hug, but the way he liked it. This stranger didn’t know how to make him giggle, how to make him connect with the world around him. This stranger barely knew his name, yet it was his name that was etched across her heart, ever since he had entered her world.

She grabbed her hot chocolate, and sat on a chair. She was hiding the pain and doubt that was creeping into her mind, pulling out the paperwork that she had been given only 10 minutes before- the counter worker asked if everything was ok. She flashed a smile;

‘Never better.’

A lie, that rebounded of the wall and smacked her square in the face.

Her eyes focused on the paperwork, Questions….questions….questions

  • Health history
  • Emergency contacts
  • Allergy Information
  • Comforting methods etc.

Where to begin?

She felt wrong as she wrote down all the information requested of her, she knew they needed it, she knew everything intimately, of course that was no surprise. She’s his mother. She should. It was her instinct, her role, her responsibility.

The Drop Off

She didn’t know quite what to expect, two hours, surely it would be a paperwork exercise, getting to know his likes and dislikes. A session of information investigation, exploration and gleaming anything that could be gathered. Perhaps playing with him in this new environment after all the admin had taken place.

But no…

She walked in, glasping her son’s hand, as he toddled with her, laughing like a goon because he was actually getting pretty good at the whole walking thing. She barely had 10minutes before the stranger said;

‘You can leave now, anytime you feel comfortable and ready.’

You what? Comfortable? Ready?

His face looked up at hers. He had been leafing through a baby book, sat on his tiny baby bum, looking at the pictures in wonderment. He stopped what he was doing and stared straight at her. Surveying her face.

He could sense her anxiety, her worry, her reluctance. His face began to mirror hers.

She wiped the warmest, most genuine smile on her face, with an outpouring of love, to reassure him that she was OK- she wasn’t– but he didn’t need to know that. He beamed back, the smile he reserved solely for her.


After finishing their goodbyes, she exits the room. The door banged and echoed across the hallway. Strange how even the noisiest building full of children in different rooms can go so quiet. Children were laughing and playing, but the noise didn’t reach her. She was going through the necessary bodily movements to propel herself from that room, his room, to the front door. Going against every instinct she had, ever since he had been born she had been their to protect him and be his strength when he couldn’t be strong.

It took every ounce of strength to leave him. Alone. With strangers.

But she did. She sat in a coffeehouse nearby, watching the clock tick, posting pictures of her son to Instagram, making sure she had mobile signal, just encase.

She tried to tell herself;

It’s harder for us, than it is for them.

She wants to believe it. After all, it’s just her little boy starting nursery. Her 9 month old Little Lord. Parents across the world go through some version of this story at one point or another, as a very young baby, a toddler, a pre-schooler or taking those first steps into education.

She tells herself to wise up, she’s being irrational. It’s going to benefit him. A new chapter, a new beginning. Besides she doesn’t have a choice.

The Re-acquaintance

She rushed back, 5 minutes early, to pick him up. She entered the room expecting to hear his cries, but he was sat on the floor with the stranger who is ‘Lisa’, playing with a car. He doesn’t even register when she enters the room. But that’s because he hasn’t heard her yet.

She calls his name.

He looks up at her, is he relieved? Did he think she had abandoned him? He drops the car, crawls over Lisa’s legs, over toys galore, taking perhaps the most treacherous route just to get to her sooner. When he reaches her, she picks him up.

They cuddle, he gives her a kiss and after she finds out how he was over the 2 hours she hears the words echo out of her mouth.

‘See you next week girls.’

She would have to go through it all again. Another settling in session. Soon though, it would be a full day when she starts her new job in a couple of weeks. She hopes it’ll get easier. She knows it will get easier. There will be tears, there will be doubts, there will be fears but;

There will be;

  • development
  • growth
  • socialisation
  • fun
  • laughter
  • friendship
  • maturing
  • financially more beneficial
  • much much more…

It will suck. But like the many before her, it’ll become the new routine, the new normal…it will become life.

If your little one is starting nursery soon, read [here] what you should pack for their first day.

Has your little one started childcare? How did you feel? Does it really get easier?

Let me know, leave me a comment and get in touch.





30 thoughts on “Fear and abandonment: The nursery trip

  1. This resonates so much with me. It breaks my heart x I am in the middle of it these days. It goes against every instinct to leave them x

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one going through it but this feeling really is heartbreaking! It is so hard to leave them but I’m hoping as the days and weeks pass it’ll get easier and we’ll start seeing them flourish and benefit from their time in nursery. Thanks for your comment- we’ll get there! X

  2. What a beautiful post – thank you for sharing. It must be such a difficult time but I hope you both settle into routine soon and it becomes easier for you. I only work one day a week (it was 2 but I dropped a day after a term), 30 weeks a year, and I am lucky the school I work at has a creche onsite but I still remember those same emotions the first day I left him. But he absolutely loves it there. And if I am honest, he would probably benefit from more days there. That special smile will still only ever be reserved for you, and you’ll always be number one. Let us know how you get on. x #momsterslink

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments. It’s so hard, I know many have been through this scenario before- but it’s all very raw at the moment. I think an element of it is not knowing what he’s doing or how he’s feeling. It takes a lot of trust in others. I’ll keep you’se updated and hopefully it becomes more upbeat! X

  3. I worked in a daycare and ran my own daycare for 13 years…this is the norm for almost all my parents who are dropping off for the first time. #momsterslink

    1. It’s actually really comforting to know that this is normal to feel this way! I know I’ll get over it, just the initial period of acclimatising and getting used to the new routine. Thanks for commenting and sharing!

  4. Ah Stef so well put. I hope you’re feeling ok about going back to work. It’s such a difficult time. Im glad the settling in day went ok. It will get essier for you too. Remember babies are so resilient! #fortheloveofblog

    1. Thanks Geraldine, gosh it’s been a rollarcoaster of emotions this last week but I think we are finishing on a high! I had smiles on pick up today and it really made all the difference. It turns out he copes with change much better than mummy does, so babies really are resilient. Thanks for stopping by 🙂 x

  5. It definitely get easier – your little one will come to love it and the socialisation is so good for them. I love to see my daughter playing with her friends or cuddling someone of the minders when I collect her, there is genuine affection #fortheloveofblog

    1. It’s so comforting to hear that it does get easier, last week I probably wouldn’t have believed your comment but today, we turned a corner! I got a wobbly lip and big eyes when I dropped him off, but when I picked him up, before he even knew I was in the room, he was smiling and playing- really heart warming. I can now stop my mind racing 100mph thinking about all the things that could go wrong and start focusing on the positives. Thanks for your comment!

  6. My daughter starts daycare next month. We’re visiting the childminder this month to have a look at her house and have a chat. I’m nervous and it makes my heart ache that I’ll be leaving her for a couple of days a week, but I need some time to do my own thing and get housework done. She’ll be able to socialise, play and get used to meeting others. I think she’ll gain a lot from it and I keep telling myself that. #fortheloveofBLOG
    Sarah – Mum & Mor recently posted…5 MonthsMy Profile

    1. Absolutely couldn’t agree with you more. Your daughter will get so much from her childcare experience, it does make your heart ache, not having this little person with you 24/7 but as you say, the benefits for you both are what matters. I hope it goes well, initially it might be hard but you’ll both get there together. Let us know how it goes!

  7. Oh god this will be me Thursday as Lily has he first settling in session; I can identify with everything I will literally be sitting there with a hot drink thinking exactly the same thoughts you did, will let you know how it goes #fortheloveofBLOG x

    1. Goodluck for tomorrow! Honestly, it’ll be tough, the first few days definitely were for us, we’ve had a few snags along the way with sleeping issues etc but today I think it was a turning point, I picked up a very happy little boy, smiling before he even noticed I had came through the door. Wishing you and Lily a successful settling session. Plenty of hot drinks, and if in doubt don’t worry about picking up the phone and giving the nursery a call, just to check in. Let us know how it goes! And remember babies are resilient, it is harder for us than it is for them x

  8. This is so well written. I can really feel what you went through! I haven’t needed a nursery so far, but as I watch my friends’ babies and toddlers gain new skills from time spent in daycare, I can’t help but feel that Squeak is missing out! They pick up so much especially from the other children. Wishing you both well in your next step 🙂 #fortheloveofBLOG
    Happy Wawa recently posted…I judge mums who judge mums for judging mumsMy Profile

    1. Thank you, it was a tough few days but honestly the change with us both since he has started nursery has been dramatic. After the initial period of upheaval it’s all starting to calm down and my son is starting to enjoy himself- which makes it so much easier for me when I collect him and he’s full of smiles instead of tears. Thanks for your comment and well wishes 🙂

  9. oh what a wonderful and heartfelt post. It really resonated with me as I have just dropped my oldest at school and my youngest at pre-school for the first time. I am sat here in a very quiet house. It feels very weird. #MarvMondays

    1. Thank you, it’s not easy when suddenly the house is empty and those little feet aren’t pottering around. September definitely is the month of change and in most cases, the month which most represents our little ones growing up and becoming more mature, with nursery, pre-school and school. Even in the future when they eventually grow up and may decide university is for them. I hope the change and new routine becomes the norm soon for you, it’s always the period of adjustment that frankly sucks 🙂

  10. It’s a really difficult thing to leave this little person that you have spent 24/7 with for the past year! I was lucky that the first settling in session I stayed in the room to do the paperwork so I could see first hand how happy he was and how quickly he took to being with strangers! The first few days of dropping him off were hard, but now he can’t wait to jump out of my arms and into his nursery workers every morning! It’s definitely harder for us than it is for them but I know I’m doing the best I can to provide a good life for my son and unfortunately part of that is having to return to work. It does get easier, I promise! #marvmondays

    1. Aww thank you, that’s all I need to hear, that it gets easier! Already I can see the truth behind that, in a few settling in days he has came leaps and bounds and that truly makes all the difference. I think it’ll still be hard for some time to do the drop offs etc. but necessity and also what he gains from the experience makes it worth while 🙂 thanks for your comment x

  11. I have experienced this on both sides of the equation i.e. as a mother and as a childminder and I think it probably is harder for the parent. It does get easier, though, I am very pleased to say.

    1. That is so good to hear, already it’s only been a week of increasing (in length) settling sessions and it’s more manageable. It’s not quite easy yet but I think I’ve came to terms with the idea of nursery. Personally that was half the battle- Accepting childcare was needed and pushing through. It’s always harder in reality though. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  12. oh it really is such a huge step! I remember feeling so worried, will they think I’ve abandoned them? Will they get hurt an don one will care? Will they look for me and feel lost? But all 3 survived it and are happy nd know they are loved, we all get through it! #dreamtaem

  13. Oh Steph I can so relate to this. I left my son in full time nursery from 11 months old and it killed me. He was ok some days and not ok some days but ultimately he doesn’t look back on nursery with anything but fondness now (he’s 10!) and it didn’t do him any harm. It can be very hard for the Mum but it soon becomes a part of your routine and the new normal. I hope that it gets a bit easier for you soon but you know where I am if you want to chat x Thanks for sharing on #fortheloveofBLOG x
    A Mum Track Mind recently posted…Homework – Is It Really Beneficial?My Profile

  14. So true that it seems so much harder for us than it is for them. Hopefully that is the case! Heartbreaking post, so we’ll written. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo

  15. It’s funny because you and I were going through the same thing on the same day and your post brought such comfort to me. I felt so lost waiting for those two hours to pass…like something was missing from my life. Of course little girl loves nursery and has embraced it completely, though she still refuses to eat there so still work to be done! Fab post, thank you for linking up to #dreamteam
    Bridie By The Sea recently posted…What I’ve Loved Reading This Week – 9th September 2016My Profile

  16. I never did have to leave any of mine at childcare but I do remember we had a babysitter that would come over from time to time when my littles were just babies and I would constantly text her to the point that I would apologize but luckily she understood and now being a mother herself REALLY understands. It’s so hard to leave our babies even when we know they are safe and sound. Thanks for linking with #momsterslink and as usual I apologize for my delay in commenting as I am still trying to get used to our school and sports schedule. Hope to see you again Thursday!

  17. […] tells us about how it can be harder on the parents when little ones start school with her post Fear and abandonment: The nursery trip. I don’t think we are ever ready for our children to start school or […]

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