Making the decision to send your little ones to nursery can be a surprisingly difficult one. ‘My son Sean was nearly two years old when I first decided to send him to nursery school,’ recalls Jill Teesdale. ‘I was pregnant with twins and I wanted to get him settled before the girls were born.’ Neither Sean nor Jill, though, was happy with the decision, and both suffered massive separation anxiety. ‘He cried so much every single day. It wasn’t just Sean, though – I was such a mess that we finally gave it up. He was almost two-and-a-half before we were able to give it another try.’
Rebecca Harris remembers fighting the same battle with her emotions. ‘Bethany was fine, but the first time I took her to nursery, I cried the whole day,’ she says. ‘I must have called the school a hundred times those first few days to make sure she was OK – she always was, but I sure wasn’t!’
While some mums (and dads) bawl for weeks after putting their kids in nursery, Anel Dreyer had no such reservations. ‘I never had a problem letting them go to nursery,’ says Dreyer, mother of Luke, age four, and Laura, age two. ‘It was easy for me because my children love other kids – the more the better. They’re little social butterflies.’ Plenty of mums, in fact, drop off their kids and find themselves dancing for the door. ‘I think I should miss them more, but I really kind of don’t,’ says Denise Keyes, mother of Jacob, age three, and one-year-old Nathan. ‘I really need that time to myself, not only to work but also just to feel like a normal adult again. I only feel guilty because I don’t feel guilty.’
Necessity also has a role to play – not everyone is able to make a free choice. ‘We had been sponsoring a nanny, but she left because we couldn’t find affordable housing for her and we didn’t have room for her in our own flat,’ recalls Hannah Barry, mother of Cooper and Conner, both age four. ‘Without a nanny, I had to either put the twins in nursery or quit my job.’ Unable to meet their own rising housing costs on one income, the Barrys opted for nursery. ‘I’m glad that the boys have adjusted as well as they have, but it’s not like I’m lounging around all day drinking coffee – I really don’t have much of a choice.’
Whatever the reason, though, it’s a rare parent who doesn’t have mixed feelings upon leaving their little ones behind. ‘I had three small children and no nanny,’ recalls Helen Sundberg, mother of Josefine, age nine, Victoria, age six, and Filip, age three. ‘With my husband travelling all the time, I desperately needed some time to myself to get things done. But I still felt guilty and I missed them hugely when they were at nursery.'