Marie-Claire McGlade on preparing for the big day. There may be tears… and not just from your baby…

At this time of the year many of us are getting ready to start our precious little ones off at nursery or preschool. Whether you are going back to work full time, or just using the time to get a few hours to yourself to catch up on some much needed me-time, starting nursery can be equally daunting and exciting for both mums and babies. But having just been through it for the fourth time earlier this month, I wanted to pass on some practical tips to try to make the process as stress free as possible for everyone…

The week or so before…

Start talking with your little one about starting nursery, perhaps get some books on starting nursery from the library. Reassure them that they will have lots of fun, make lots of new friends and have plenty of new toys to play with.  Talk about routines eg hanging up their coat on the peg each morning, play time, snack time, outside play, lunch time, quiet time etc. Most importantly, reassure them that you will always be coming back to pick them up later in the day.

They will need spare clothes- lots!

Be prepared to be sent home with a lot of dirty washing, especially if they are staying for lunch! You will need plenty of changes of clothes so scour the sales or ask if any friends/family with older children have any outgrown clothes they are happy to pass on. Practicality is the key, never send them to nursery in any clothes you couldn’t bear to see come home ruined by paint – as I learnt to my cost. And label EVERYTHING!!

Make contact with other mums at the nursery

You could post on Mush Ups to see if there are any mums living locally who already have children at the nursery or are about to start so you could arrange a play date – or even a coffee date while your little one is settling in.

Check if the nursery allows children to bring a favourite toy or comforter…

And label it! Or if possible buy an identical toy/blanket etc and keep one just for nursery. We endured one sleepless weekend when a favourite teddy was left at nursery on a Friday afternoon….

Be prepared for tears, from BOTH OF YOU!

But rest assured the nursery staff will have settled in dozens of children and have seen everything before. Be guided by them about how long you should stay with your child for the first few days.

Many nurseries insist on two weeks of settling in for children under two.  You will probably need to stay either on the premises or close by for at least the first week, so probably best to clear your diary. If you have to stay on the premises, take along something to read as many nurseries don’t allow mobile phones in the building. I can highly recommend Isabella Davidson’s hugely entertaining book The Beta Mum: Adventures in Alpha Land which chronicles the charmed life of a  Notting Hill Yummy Mummy to keep you distracted during the settling in period…

If you are allowed to venture to a nearby coffee shop, enjoy the chance to have coffee and cake in peace! Catch up on life admin, online grocery shopping, listen to a podcast….Go for a walk without the dreaded buggy or scooter…

Be prepared for tiredness and not a lot of talking….

There is so much for little minds to take in! Don’t plan too many activities after nursery for the first few weeks, perhaps bring a favourite snack when you pick them up and just have a few quiet afternoons. You may not get much out of them about what they did during the day, especially with boys…

So be prepared, but enjoy the first step towards independence and a whole new world of experiences for your child!

@marieclaire5993 @mushmums