Parental guilt is something we all have to live with from the moment our babies are conceived! Whether it’s worrying about the soft cheese you ate before realising you were pregnant, or the time your children spend on Minecraft, it goes with the territory.
One thing we come across at our day nurseries is guilt about putting your baby into childcare. It’s not helped by conflicting reports and studies weighing up the pros and cons – especially if you don’t have a great deal of choice in the matter.
Why You Shouldn’t Feeling Bad About Putting Your Baby Into Childcare
If you’re a parent returning to work after your maternity or Shared Parental Leave has ended, you’ll naturally have concerns about leaving your baby with any childcare provider – even a doting grandparent! Or if you just feel you need some time to yourself, to go to the gym, shopping or to get on with household chores, you may feel bad that you’re not with your child 24/7.
Unfortunately we don’t have an instant fix for day nursery guilt, but we can help you rationalise it a little…
- Babies Don’t Bear Grudges: Your baby is unlikely to remember much about their very early months and years, however wonderful they are. Their experience of nursery, however positive, will not be something they reminisce about in years to come. Neither will they remember that short period of time when they were a bit upset to be left by you.
- High Quality Childcare Provides A Nurturing Environment: Many child psychotherapists believe that babies and children become psychologically and emotionally hardwired in the first three years, and their attachment to their parent or carer is an important factor in this. What is sometimes overlooked is that babies and children who attend a nursery can still develop that strong attachment to their parents, as well as other carers such as their key worker at nursery. High quality childcare, balanced with a loving and supportive family, produces happy and emotionally competent children.
- It’s Good To Socialise: We are social beings, however unsociable you may feel at times, and learning to interact and get along with others is a skill everyone needs. Attending nursery, whether it’s for short periods or fulltime, will give your baby lots of opportunities to learn these skills. Ones that other children may struggle with if not given this exposure.
- You’re Still Their Parent: Nursery keyworkers do lots of things that parents do: pick up after them, wipe noses, stick plasters on grazed knees. But we don’t sit with them in the middle of the night when they’ve woken up, tuck them into bed and read a story, go on holidays or adventures in your local park, look after them when they’re poorly, or cook their favourite tea. You are not replaceable!
- Whatever You’re Doing Will Enhance Their Lives: While your baby is at nursery you’re working for them. Whether this is literally at work earning money to provide a healthy diet, keep a roof over their heads, and pay for all those things they need over the course of their childhood (and into adulthood!). Or to give yourself a little bit of breathing space to allow you to do the job of being a parent: going to the gym to keep fit and healthy doesn’t mean you’re neglecting your baby!
Unfortunately being a parent these days is an increasingly stressful experience, as not only do we have to deal with the ‘real’ issues that our society throws at us such as childhood obesity and internet safety; but we also have to cope with conflicting advice on the best way to bring up our children.
Ultimately, decisions about childcare need to be made based on what’s best for your personal situation, and then supported by everyone around you. Rant over!