For many mums leaving their baby for the first time is difficult whether it’s for an hour, an afternoon or a day. Having been inseparable for the nine months of pregnancy and then the early weeks of life, leaving your baby with someone else can leave you with very mixed feelings.
Susie was a couple of weeks old the first time that I took a solo trip to Tescos. I can remember feeling quite liberated leaving the house with just my car keys and my purse but couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I’d forgotten something important whilst absent mindedly rocking the empty shopping trolley.
Returning to work was another big step and it came sooner than I had anticipated. I often joked during my pregnancy that once the baby was born I was just going to tuck her under my arm and carry on as usual and so when a few weeks after having my daughter
my colleague called in sick, I decided to cover the class instead of cancel it. What a mistake! Halfway through the class I realised that there is a major difference between sitting on the sofa at home thinking about teaching a class and the reality of persuading an 8 week old baby that they wanted to swap their usual routine of cluster feeding for most of the evening for seeing the sights of Sittingbourne by pram pushed by my ever supportive mum as I struggled to concentrate on teaching the finer points of labour and birth. To this day I’m not really sure what I talked about in that class and feel I need to apologize to any parents who were reliant on that class to prepare them for their birth. Clearly there’s a reason why most sensible mums do not return to work so early!
When the time came to return to work on a more regular basis I decided to investigate the various childcare options. We have always been lucky to have grandparents nearby to help out but as they have lots of other responsibilities we wanted to use childcarers for the majority of my work time. I have often thought that choosing the right childcare is all about gut feeling and not about Ofsted reports. Like most parents, I wanted Susie to have a combination of stimulation and learning opportunities, quiet time and social time, fun and love, and so after looking at all of the options we felt that the right choice for us would be a childminder. I think that childminders are often overlooked as childcare providers but for those of us who work erratic hours and would like a home-from-home environment they are an excellent, affordable option. Like nurseries, childminders have to go through detailed Ofsted inspections to confirm that their homes are safe, they are qualified to care for children and that they will offer the children in their care a wide range of learning opportunities.
In the end we used a combination of grandparents, childminders and preschools before Susie started school and no matter where she was it was a relief to know that when I went off to work, despite the occasional tears that Susie shed when I left her, moments later she’ll be happy and playing. Even at this young age I hope we are giving her roots and wings. Roots to help her feel grounded and secure and know that her family loves her no matter what, and wings to enjoy the independence and wonderful opportunities that the world has to offer. I guess these early experiences of Susie having a small part of her life without me is just preparation for both of us for the events that will come in the years ahead ... thankfully at the moment we’re just at the beginning of this long journey and I just hope that we make Susie roots deep rooted and that she doesn’t try out her wings any time too soon!