So the other day I was reading a post on one of those Facebook parenting forums (jeez people don’t bite their tongues on those things do they?!) This particular one was written by a nursery worker who was bemoaning those ‘awful’ mums who choose to leave their children in a hellhole of snotty toddlers (aka nursery) even if they’re not working. It described how terrible it was that these mums would drop their poor kids off screaming and crying just so they could go off to Zumba or drink coffee or do the housework. I suddenly realised that I am one of those horrendous mothers they were talking about. I send my little twiglets off to nursery for two days a week and no I’m not working, yes I do go to a Zumba class and do the housework while they’re there and yes Cora does often cry when I drop her off in the mornings 💔 There were countless comments on the post from mothers who agreed, stating how much they love their children, or how wanted and longed for they were, maybe after a difficult journey to parenthood, infertility etc – so why on earth would they choose to be apart from them if they didn’t need to be? On the face of it, this made sense and I wondered if I must indeed be an awful mother for not choosing to spend every single possible minute with my, also much loved and long-awaited, babies?
The thing is, for me, when we made the decision back in January to put the twiglets in nursery for a couple of mornings a week, it was a turning point – mainly in terms of my mental state (without wanting to sound too dramatic!) As a side note, I feel I should just point out that I realise nursery isn’t a possibility for a lot of people so we are lucky to have the option to do it – this is actually only because my mum offered to cover the cost – we couldn’t really have afforded double childcare ourselves what with only one salary coming in. Anyway I digress… So we had a few reasons for sending the twigs to nursery. We felt that it would be really good for their development in a number of ways – social, language etc. Also, at that time they were going through a phase of major separation anxiety to the point that Cora would scream until she was sick if we tried to leave her with someone else. We don’t have a huge amount of family around so we felt it would be good for the twigs to become more familiar with being left with other people. Also, I could recognise my own shortcomings in terms of doing messy play/craft activities with them – or not as the case may be 🙈 Personally, I’m not hugely artistic or practical so the idea of painting with two toddlers was a bit of a source of stress for me – especially when one has the attention span of a gnat and would only be interested for 30 seconds then run around spreading paint everywhere, leaving you with 20 minutes worth of clearing up – like there wasn’t enough to do anyway 😭 At least sending them to nursery I know that they’ll do lots of messy sensory activities there which eases my guilt slightly. But probably the primary reason for them starting nursery was to give me a break. I know that sounds bad and don’t get me wrong, I love being at home with my bubbas and I do feel super lucky and privileged to be able to spend their early years with them – I know there are lots of mummies who would kill to give up their job and spend their time with their babies. If we hadn’t have had twins, making it not financially viable for me to go back to work, I’m quite sure I would have done without question. However, being at home with children all day every day is hard bloody work – harder than I could ever have imagined. I don’t think anything can quite prepare you for the sheer relentlessness of it – the fact that you’re always on duty and always in demand is both amazing and yet totally draining. Sometimes you just need some time to yourself – to be you, rather than ‘Mummy’ or ‘Daddy.’ I was certainly really feeling that it was too much and something had to give. It was also really starting to stress me out that I couldn’t keep on top of the housework – that sounds silly and unimportant I know. While I was on official maternity leave, I wasn’t too bothered about the state of the house as it all felt very temporary somehow – but once that time was over and I’d left my teaching job, it started to feel like the house was a complete shit-tip on a more long term basis. To be fair, it probably wasn’t that bad but you know when it’s just not really to your standards and it starts to get you down? It only seems to have got harder to keep up as they’ve got older, as I’ll be tidying something up somewhere but simultaneously the twiglets will be causing absolute carnage somewhere else! Not to mention that I’d feel guilty for just leaving them to play by themselves a lot so that I could get housework done.
So yes, I send my children to nursery when I don’t really ‘have’ to. It doesn’t mean I love or appreciate them any less – it means I find it hard sometimes and recognise that I need some time away – to do the housework, to run the errands that are a nightmare to do with twins in tow, and even to do something for myself, like an exercise class or a bath. I feel it helps me to be the best parent I can be to my twiglets – (slightly) more patient, more sane, happier and definitely more appreciative of the time I spend with them. Some people don’t feel they need that time apart and that’s great. We’re all different and we shouldn’t be judging others on their choices – the world would be very boring if we all raised our children in exactly the same way. I’ve spoken to other mums who feel judged for not sending their children to nursery so it seems you can’t really win whatever you do! Ultimately, the vast majority of us love our children to bits and are just trying to do what’s best for them in whatever way we can, and if anyone feels the need to voice their opinion on a Facebook group or otherwise, then f**k ‘em – ironically, they’re probably the ones with too much time on their hands! 🙊