It has been a busy few weeks in our household. Tony has started a new job, I am back after maternity leave. Lilly has finished nursery and we’ve been getting ready for the start of school. Eve is still waking in the night, and we’ve started weaning. We’ve organised and held a Christening. And Isla and Eve have started at nursery.
With all three girls I had a pretty similar amount of maternity leave – six months, give or take a few weeks. It was a little more with Isla and a little less with Eve, because of the various time of the year / financial circumstances.
Lilly started nursery at six months old, and was never really a problem, although she would never sleep in there. Isla started about seven months and never really settled. She didn’t sleep and she was a lot more distressed when you left her than Lilly ever was. She was ok, but we never thought she enjoyed it. She stayed at nursery until she was about 14 months and then Tony was made redundant and became a stay at home dad for a while instead.
Isla loved being at home with her daddy. But now he is back at work, and she is two years old, and for so many reasons we feel that now she really needs to get used to spending time away from us and enjoying the company of other children her own age. Watching Lilly so confidently looking forward to school is the clincher – nursery has helped make her a confident and outgoing child who cannot wait for the chance to make more friends, and we want the same for Isla in two years time.
We were not expecting this transition to be easy. I arranged with nursery that Isla would do four settling in sessions before her start date. The first one, I took her and stayed with her for the whole time. She wasn’t very sure when we walked in and asked a few times to go home. She wouldn’t acknowledge the other children, and got upset when they crowded round her to see the new girl. She liked painting but had a complete meltdown when one of the staff suggested she wear an apron! I could tell she liked the look of the slide and the cosy coupe car in the playground, but she refused to actually go on them. BUT… coming away from nursery she talked positively about the experience, told everybody who would listen about her painting and agreed to go back again the next week.
During the second session, I took Eve to the baby room at the same time. I reckoned that Eve would be absolutely fine, so we all spent a bit of time in the baby room before I took Isla next door. Then, I spent the hour going between the rooms to see both of them. Eve was absolutely fine, Isla cried and got upset everytime I went next door, although the amount of upset reduced noticeably each time, and I kept asking her: “Can mummy go next door to see Eve now?” and she would always agree, even if it was reluctantly.
So, on the third session, I dropped them off and left them for a full hour. My mum and I took Lilly to a cafe and we all talked about how weird it was to just be the three of us!
I left my mum and Lilly at the park and went back to get the two little ones. As I walked past the open window of the baby room, I heard a familiar high-pitched screaming… surely it couldn’t be?? She wasn’t due a bottle, or a sleep, or anything!
But yes, it was Eve, screaming, red faced and hysterical! The staff were trying in vain to calm her with a bottle, a dummy, anything!
Apparently, she had been fine, but then they had brought Isla in to visit her, because Isla was a bit upset. Seeing her baby sister seemed to work for Isla, and she calmed down. But it upset Eve and she had been screaming for the 20 minutes since!
After Eve was mainly calm, I carried her next door to find Isla. We spotted her before she spotted us – she was playing but her face was red and she was still gulping back sobs, trying to be brave. As soon as she saw us she exploded into tears – which set Eve off again screaming and screaming in my other arm!
Ah yes, it was definitely “one of those moments” – I’m sure any mum of more than one knows what I mean!
But, as we walked away from nursery, the sobs just about abated, Isla announced very loudly “We LOVE nursery!” which made all the staff laugh!
And, I’m happy to say that the fourth and final settling in session was a marked improvement. Isla didn’t cry at all, after the initial upset of me leaving. And Eve was happy and relaxed, even drifting off to sleep in her keyworker’s arms.
This was two weeks ago and things are still going fairly well. Eve has been absolutely fine, sleeping ok and never upset. Isla gets upset everytime I leave, but I am assured that she gets over it and has even started playing with some of the other children, a little tiny bit. Her favourite thing is the play kitchen and she spends a lot of her time there.
I don’t know whether Isla will ever be as enthusiastic about nursery as her big sister, or whether she will always have that little wobble knowing that we are about to leave her there. But Tony and I feel so strongly that this will be good for her in the long run, and it has to be done. We’ve been reading her all the ‘starting nursery’ books we can get our hands on and even Lilly has been roped in to tell Isla how great nursery is!
Hopefully this is the start of a very happy relationship, for both of them.