There are many, many self-help guides that are on the shelves of the book shops that try to give you a detailed analysis of how you will feel when your child goes to nursery for the first time. Note that I’ve said nursery and not school, as a nursery timetable is usually part time. I can categorically tell you that there is no book out there, no seminar, no TV show that will prepare you for what you will feel that very first day your baby is away from you and in the care of someone else.
There are some parents out there that won’t send their child to nursery at all, and will wait for the full-time school year to begin instead. Sometimes this can actually make you feel worse as you will be diving head first into six hours away from your child. The same child who has been by your side every day since birth. Nursery hours prepare you for letting go of your little one and give them a couple of hours a day of independence, time to find themselves and learn to socialise. The thing is, nursery isn’t just to prepare THEM for full-time school hours. It’s for you, too.
Letting go of our children is hard. You question yourself as to whether you’ve sent your perfect miniature off to a lion’s den full of bullies and sharp objects that you cannot save them from. You worry that the nursery teachers won’t pay enough attention to them. You’ll worry that there won’t be a camera hidden inside a smoke detector to keep a watch over your baby until it’s time to pick them up. All these worries are completely normal and that’s exactly why there isn’t a self-help guide that will work to tell you otherwise. I hate to tell you this, but that worry never really goes away. Sure, you can fill your hours with a workout, shopping and even take up a new job, but that worry of whether you have made the right decision won’t go. And that’s exactly how you know you’ve made the right choice.
Our children need interaction. They need challenges both educationally and socially to thrive as people. There are options to home school, with home schooling becoming more popular around the world and groups of children in the same boat to meet your children. Home schooled children need never be lonely. But while your little one is given a chance to find their feet and shine at school, you also get your chance. Your child may have let go of your hand, but when that happens, you get your hand back. You can rediscover who you were before you became ‘mummy’ and that is a gift that should never be squandered. You can remember that before you had a messy little monster, you were a person with goals and dreams. It’s your time to go and catch them and nursery and school give you that. So let go lightly, but let go all the same.