Don’t leave me this way – on nursery blues and separation anxiety
It’s all change in our household at the moment; I’m returning to the world of work, which means this week is all about settling the youngest member in at the nursery that she’ll be attending for a couple of days a week.
I’ve written before about parenting worry, but my worries since becoming a parent have covered a wide spectrum, from the potential and possible (illness, the pram falling down the gap on the tube) to the ever-so-slightly irrational (what if a heron flies through the window and plucks a sleeping Eliza out of her cot?*).
Yet I’ve never really worried about the idea of leaving her at nursery – she’s always been pretty robust, independent, fine with non-parent people and loves playing with other children. Actually securing her place was stressful – seriously, do not get me started on London nursery waiting lists, or the fees! – and I knew I’d have to man-up to deal with it, but we thought she would be just fine.
Over Christmas, Eliza did start crying whenever she couldn’t see me or Alex, but we put it down to teething / colds / nap disruption etc etc. And the first nursery session yesterday went well; I envisaged today being more of the same, just with me making a quick exit.
This morning she was most decidedly Not Herself, but I thought a change of scenery would cheer her up. I was wrong! I put her down, she cried. We played with some toys and I tentatively backed away, she cried. Her key worker tried to entertain her, she cried. Even lunch didn’t cheer her up. The staff told me I could leave her, but it was so not what I wanted to do when she was so unusually upset. Already feeling very emotional about the whole thing anyway, I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.
My practical side tells me that of course it’s going to be fine, she’s having a one-off off-day, if she has separation anxiety then she needs to be with other people, it’s natural for her to be upset and the staff are skilled at dealing with it, I’m only working part-time, she’s teething, I’m tired.
But there’s nothing practical about the emotional side of parenting is there? The thought of her crying when I’m not there is killing me. How do you deal with this? Help!
* I’m not kidding. No idea why a heron though, let’s just blame post-birth hormones shall we?