The decision to send your baby or child to nursery can be tough for some. Many mothers feel guilty and worry whether they are making the right decision. The fundamental point I must make is that you must stop being so hard on yourself, give yourself a break and look at this with an open mind. There are so many positives about sending your child to nursery. It enables them to build relationships outside the family circle, learn to share (especially important if they do not have any siblings), helps to build confidence and independence, and they get to try new activities that perhaps you might not have thought of doing at home. Whatever your reasons for sending your baby or child to nursery, whether it's down to necessity or desire, finding the right nursery is crucial in giving you peace of mind. It can be difficult to let go but if you find the right nursery, it is so much easier to relinquish some of the control and accept that you have made the right decision. To help you out, I have compiled a list of some points and questions that I feel you should consider when starting the daunting task of finding the right nursery.
View as many as you can – even if you like the first one, push yourself to look at another so you have a means of comparison
If you are returning to work, consider a nursery on route or near to your place of work to reduce stress and decrease the hours spent away from you child
Look at rates and don't forget that often meals are charged separately
Look at the flexibility of the nursery and whether their opening hours work for you
If the great outdoors and nature is important to you, make sure you check the outdoor space and ask how often the children go outside
Check the standard of the food they provide and make sure they can cope with any allergies your child may have.
Consider whether you would prefer a free flow nursery or a more structured environment
Ask if they bring in outside teachers for extra activities like French, cooking, music, exercise classes etc.
Read their Ofsted Report
Ask about staff turnaround as this is a good indicator of how happy the staff are and an important factor as it can be hard for continuity for the children if staff only stay a short time
Ask for recommendations from friends
I must stress that while all of the above points are relevant and important when considering a nursery, we are all very different and as a result, our decision might be heavily weighted by a few particular points. For me it is important to always follow your gut when it comes to a huge decision like this, don't be swayed by great new facilities or cheap fees (if there is such a thing!). It is often just about a feeling you can't put into words, a feeling that tells you your child is going to feel safe and happy here. Good luck in your journey and remember to never underestimate a mother’s instinct. You will know when you have found the right place, have faith in your decision.
Helen was born in London but has always been mesmerised by the sea and that was one of the many reasons for her decision to study at Brighton University many moons ago. Whilst she left this wonderful city briefly, she finally moved back just over 3 years ago and is now delighted to call Hove her home. She set up the Brighton & Hove Working Mums group on Facebook over a year ago, as a safe environment for working mums to get advice without judgement and promote their businesses. A mother herself, of two gorgeous children, she spends her time copywriting and blogging about anything she feels passionate about.
Illustration: Onneke van Waardenburg