Sending your child back to school or deciding whether or not to enrol your child in school or a crèche can be a double edged sword. On one side we see the anxiety experienced by both parent and child when they are separated and how the life of the parent becomes busier with more need for planning and preparation. The juxtaposition of your change in lifestyle along with the fact that you know your child needs structure, routine and that your child will ultimately benefit from positive, outside of the home influences makes the move to school/ crèche a painful yet necessary one.
It is well researched and documented that a child will mirror the feelings he/she see’s in his parents during the morning drop off. If the child senses that a parent is anxious then the usually bubbly extrovert child may become anxious and shy. In hindsight I feel that my emotions had a massive room to play during my sons morning drop off’s.
When I decided to return to work after an extended maternity leave it took my son a long time to adjust to the structure and different surroundings of his crèche. We began with one hour visits, an hour where I sat in the car crying! The girls in the crèche had to take it very gently with me as I settled my child in which seems strange as my background is in childcare. I was completely conflicted! I wanted to return to work to gain independence but I also wanted to stay with my child. You also have to place your trust in the teacher, you need to feel reassured and confident that your child’s teacher will protect and nurture your child. Contrary to this as a parent you need to allow the teacher to get to know your child without your interference and allow your child and the teacher form a bond so they can work together and create an environment conducive to learning.
Going back to school and starting school is a time of upheaval and challenges but it is a necessary path in the development of a child. I try and plan my mornings so that my son gets his morning bottle with me and that way I get my morning cuddle and so does he. The tears and struggles seem worthwhile now when I collect him from the crèche and I hear him saying “my mammy!” and at home we are treated to varied accounts of his day with his friends in crèche from him crawling around the floor being the “baby” to him acting out the actions to his favourite songs. Seeing his growth and development first hand, as a result of his wonderful teachers, makes the mornings easier and the goodbyes happier.