Tomorrow is going to be a strange one. Tomorrow Botboy finishes at the nursery he has been going to since he was 12 weeks old.
12 weeks! Wow.
He is almost 200 weeks old now. That really has gone by fast.
Before he went there, Sackgirl was there too, from 9 months old to just over 4 years.
The ladies at the nursery have been looking after my kids for the last 7 years.
Of course, I could mention the cost of childcare these days, for a working parent. I could calculate that I have spent over £50,000 in that time (I did get nearer to £57,000 but then I threw up a little in my mouth and quickly rounded it down). I could refer to my previous post about unfair charges and the fact the nursery has increased their prices every single year, taking full advantage of parents who have no choice but to pay out in order to be able to work. I could.
But instead I want to think about what I got for my
vast sums of money.
When our precious little babies are born, we think that there is nothing we would not do for them to make them happy and keep them safe. So one thing we do is look for the best childcare we can find.
Our nursery was recommended by my sister-in-law who sent my niece and nephew there. A trusted recommendation is important! I had a few criteria, being as my beautiful new baby would be spending all day there three times a week while I worked.
Firstly, security. No one could walk in without being checked visually by a member of staff. No doors were unlocked, no child could wander off down the street.
Secondly, space. There are a lot of childcare facilities around. Some are in small halls, some are large open rooms. My criteria was separate rooms for different age groups and a large playground. After all, if my baby was growing up in this space she needed to be able to get outside to play. Fresh air and sunlight is important.
Thirdly, facilities. For the amount we parents pay, I expect them to have new toys, lots of them. To be fair to the nursery, they did regularly replace all of the dolls, the dressing up clothes, the cars and tricycles, the sandpits. About three years ago they extended the rooms, put in touch screen white boards and computers and other gadgetry for the kids to play with. They rebuilt the playground with a climbing frame and slide, climbing wall, stage and other fun stuff.
Over the years, I also came to appreciate other things, such as the way they covered the floor in paper and let the toddlers paint it (and themselves). Messy play – something we don’t really want to do in our living room at home. There was a time when Botboy had a sandy nappy every day – I’m sure he ate the stuff. When my children had milk intolerance issues, they managed their food requirements without fuss. When I needed extra day care, they managed to fit the kids in, even if they had to rearrange staffing to do it.
I do believe the ladies at the nursery played a large part in potty training Sackgirl (I also think Botboy did it himself when he was ready, no matter what we all tried). They helped teach them table manners, using a knife and fork, counting to 10, sharing skills, socialisation, naming their colours and shapes, writing their names – lots of little things that sometimes I didn’t even notice until the kids came out with it during play with me.
I have always found it funny that after all this time they still call me ‘mum’. “If mum could just sign this.” “Mum, don’t forget we need you to bring in suncream.” I guess they have a hard job remembering the names of every parent. But they always recognise me when I go in and over the years I have built up a good rapport with many of them. The morning drop off always starts off with a wave and a joke as I pass the office, and ends with some quick chat as I leave at pick up.
Yes, it has been expensive. But for all the time they have been there I have never worried about how happy my kids were. Both of them loved nursery. I have had no concerns about the staff or whether my kids were safe. I wanted the best I could afford for my kids and my own peace of mind. I think I got it.
So, tomorrow will be a strange day. I will drop Botboy off for the last time. I will zoom into the car park in a hurry, as normal. I will buzz the security camera, run past the office with a ‘Morning’, drop Botboy off in his room, give him a kiss, wave at the ladies and run off again. As normal.
Except this time I won’t. I will slow down a little to drop off some cake for the ladies, chocolates for Botboy’s current teachers, sweets for his friends. When I pick him up, I will take in a little present for the nursery – something for them to remember us by.
Then we will leave – and there will be no more nursery in this house.