Elma Family Kitty Pip

Changes

28/01/2015

At the end of November H and I took a big deep breath and sent an email to Kitty and Elma’s nursery to withdraw Elma.  She had her last nursery day at the end of December and came home as happy as could be having had a lovely day playing on the trikes in the garden and doing something involving copious amounts of glue (the latter deduction based mainly on how much shampoo was required at bath time), entirely unaware that this had been her Last Day, while I tried not to get emotional at the fact that she was leaving key workers who I can remember loving and welcoming Kitty not so very long ago, and who I had been so happy to have be a part in both my daughters’ childhood.

It was one of those moments when you just have to cross your fingers and hope that you’ve made the right decision.

It was in part a decision motivated by finances; I don’t need childcare right now, I’m at home all day, and will be until the summer so to have any form of outside help is a bit of a luxury.  Kitty is eligible for her nursery grant and my employer continues to pay my childcare vouchers while I’m on maternity leave, but you don’t get any more childcare vouchers for having more children (sensible though that might be, and we’ll leave that soapbox for another day) and they only go so far.  And so it came to a choice.  Both girls could have one day a week, or Kitty could have two.

If one of them had hated nursery, had had to be peeled off me every morning or had come home bored and unenthusiastic it might have been easy to say “Ok you stay at home, you can go if you want to”, but they both absolutely love nursery.  Kitty settled in almost from her first day and is happy and comfortable and confident with all of her key workers.  They’ve taught her French nursery rhymes and she’s watched a chicken hatch, and a baby chicken poop on someone’s hand, and made more art than we can fit in our house and sung and run around all day long, while Elma walked in on her first day without a backward glance.  As long as there was toast in the mornings she was the happiest little girl in the room, usually giving her wailing companions a rather quizzical look over the breakfast table.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

But at the end of the day Kitty is four and Elma is only just two, and so we decided that it was most important for Kitty to have her two days.  I think if she were at home all day every day she’d start to climb the walls.  It sounds very super special snowflake I know, but she comes across as quick to pick things up and usually fairly confident and articulate and I can see how frustrated she gets when we have to do things at a slightly slower speed or at a lower level to allow Elma to join in, or because Mummy also needs to take care of Pip.  It’s probably a useful life lesson for her and I do try to take some time in the day to do things just for her, to play dominoes or her sandcastle game or anything else where there’s a risk of Elma running off with the pieces, but as Elma starts to drop her nap (alas) it becomes harder to fit in.  Those two days with her peers give her the chance to just be Kitty and not Kitty-the-biggest-sister, and as there’s at least one little girl in her preschool class who will (fingers crossed) be going to school with her come September I’m so happy that she’s going to have  one friendly face for her first day.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And while Elma loved her nursery days we’re hoping that for her the benefits of being at home all the time will outweigh missing her toast, her favourite tricycle, her key worker and her friends (probably in that order).  I hope that in giving her more time at home she gets to be the big sister not the little big sister.  She will get, well not quite one on one time with Mummy, because no one gets one on one time with me at the moment, not even me, but certainly the chance to be the leader in our expeditions, the chance to think for herself, and to answer for herself and not simply echo her much adored and very vocal big sister.  She is by nature a very independent little thing and I’ve no doubt that when the time comes for pre-school and real school she’ll have no trouble finding her feet, but for now it feels right to pull her close and enjoy the last few months of her babyhood.

But that was our reasoning, not the girls’.  I worried that Elma would feel that she was being left out, that she would want to run on in to her toast every day and I’d have to comfort a sad little girl who couldn’t understand why she wasn’t being allowed to play with her friends any more; or that Elma would be fine but Kitty would feel as if we were pushing her out, as if we didn’t want her so we were sending her away, or that she was missing out on some day full of fun and chocolate ice cream every time she went to pre-school.  And I worried a little bit about Pip.  All through the autumn I loved those couple of days a week that I spent with just my Pip; I could entirely devote myself to him, to feeding him with no pressure to be done so that I could go and sort out sticky messes or trying to read a story with one hand, hold a baby with the other and work out how or whether we were ever going to have lunch all at the same time.  It was a treat and one I’m well aware many people don’t get, but I didn’t want Pip to loose that special time, or to simply be carted from pillar to post as I parented his sisters.

It also felt like the first time we’d made a parenting decision that was right but not necessarily fair, it’s an awkward sort of feeling, but one I suspect we’ll become all too familiar with as the years go past.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And so here we are, one month in, and so many of my worries have come to nothing; Kitty still loves pre-school and sees it as something that she gets to do because she’s a big girl; Elma turned up to deliver Kitty on her first at home morning wearing a sunhat, carrying a little raffia basket and told everyone “I going shopping. But not Littee (her sister)!”, seems generally rather surprised to find some of her former colleagues in the hallway and is loving sole possession of all the Duplo slides and the swing twice a week.  And as she still naps occasionally, or gets utterly caught up in playing I don’t think I’ve lost out on my play time with Pip.

So far so good. Phew.

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  • Lauren 28/01/2015 at 7:36 am

    I understand where you are coming from. As parents it’s so easy to worry that every decision we make mught be the wrong one that sets off a chain of events leading them to therapy as adults, blaming us for everything. “If only mom had kept me in nursery, I wouldn’t be a shoplifter”

    • Carie 30/01/2015 at 8:22 am

      oh isn’t it just!! Hopefully when they’re older they’ll know we were just trying our best!

  • sustainablemum 28/01/2015 at 9:17 am

    It’s not easy working out what is right is it? It sounds like you have made a mindful decision and one that seems to be the right one for your family 🙂

    • Carie 30/01/2015 at 8:20 am

      I really hope so!!

  • Kim 28/01/2015 at 11:07 am

    I can appreciate how difficult this decision was. Happy to hear it seems to be working out well.

    • Carie 30/01/2015 at 8:17 am

      thank you 🙂

  • Katie @mummydaddyme 28/01/2015 at 12:23 pm

    Just another of those hard decisions we make as parents, but it sounds like you made the right one for you and your family. I agree with all the things you’ve said, and Elma’s time at nursery will come in the future I am sure. Both my girls go two long mornings a week, but that’s cause I am working at the moment, and they both thrive on it. But if our circumstances were different I am sure they would love it at home too. xx

    • Carie 30/01/2015 at 8:15 am

      I think that’s the thing – when you need the childcare a great nursery is worth its weight in gold – right now for me it’s just a luxury – and I’m sure Elma will have plenty of time to have fun at nursery along the way!

  • Anna @ the next big journey 28/01/2015 at 12:40 pm

    So glad everything has gone smoothly – it’s always hard to make the big parenting decisions: childcare, schools, work vs staying at home, but love is a great stabiliser – as long as that remains children can cope with all sorts of other changes. Good to hear Elma naps sometimes as well as Pip as it’s also nice to be able to have a little one-on-one time with each child.

    • Carie 30/01/2015 at 8:12 am

      Thank you – I’m really hoping Elma keeps her naps a little while longer – I dream of the day when they all nap at once!

  • Donna 28/01/2015 at 5:20 pm

    Glad it’s all worked out well and I think often we have to make decisions based on finances. It sounds like you made the right choice for all of you x

    • Carie 30/01/2015 at 8:01 am

      So far so good!!

  • susan 28/01/2015 at 8:32 pm

    Isn’t it amazing that in spite of all the worrying we do, life has a way of sorting itself out. Sounds like everyone is happy at your house so need to second guess yourself. You’re doing a great job!

    • Carie 30/01/2015 at 8:01 am

      Aww thank you 🙂

  • Vickie 28/01/2015 at 9:17 pm

    What a difficult decision to have to make Carie. Parenthood is all about trying to find the right balance for everyone, second guessing yourself then just hoping for the best. It doesn’t make it any easier knowing that though. It sounds like the new way of life is working out for you all which is all you can hope for. Vx

    • Carie 30/01/2015 at 8:00 am

      It does always seem like we’re second guessing the right choice, crossing our fingers and hoping!! But perhaps our parents felt like that in their turn, or maybe because they had fewer choices they were more confident in the ones they made?

  • Jemma 28/01/2015 at 10:37 pm

    How beautifully put and what lovely photos to match. I completely sympathise with everything- we’ve been there too, but what I loved is what how wonderfully you explained how special nursery can be and the amazing times our little ones have there. As a working mother with little people at nursery- I really appreciated this as I often forget what they learn there and the benefits of it as I’m always consumed by guilt. I know it will all work out for Elma but think you’ve done the right thing- decisions, decisions……. It’s scary to think we’ll have this for a whole yet xx

    • Carie 30/01/2015 at 7:57 am

      It was one of the things that made me choose the nursery in the first place when we needed childcare – the conscious knowledge that there are things the girls can do there that sheer scale means I cannot replicate at home – singing games and giant construction being top of the list – this week Kitty’s pre-school built an igloo for their reading corner! And Elma always loved welly painting and the big projects that I don’t have space to do at home

  • aniajm 29/01/2015 at 8:28 pm

    Hard decision to make…I’ve got only two of them and it would be very hard without a nursary for my older one… She walks around walls when she’s got a longer break than weekend…
    I was just wondering if you’d like to join our 52 weeks phitography project? Either on http://www.mylittlemadnessuk.blogspot.co.uk or http://www.becreativemommy.blogspot.co.UK 🙂

    • Carie 30/01/2015 at 7:53 am

      Knowing how much Kitty loves it it would be very hard to see her do without it – I’m glad she loves it too – it makes it a lot easier that she’s been going since she was 9 months old

  • Yanic 30/01/2015 at 6:45 pm

    I’m so glad it all worked out. We went through something similar, deciding to keep Little Miss home part-time from preschool until she starts kindergarten next year. It was partially finances, but honestly selfish as well. She has been in daycare since she was 10 months old. I couldn’t afford staying home then and now that we can, I feel as though her brother will benefit of it all and she will just be “the one going off in the morning”… I wanted time with both my children while I still can. She finds it hard thought : She loves being home, but misses the hustle and bustle of 18 preschoolers running around. But she gets the best of both world and although it’s hard to manage sometimes (being almost 3 years older than her little bro), she likes being the big sister. I hope it continues on well for you. Have a lovely week-end.

    • Carie 02/02/2015 at 9:58 pm

      And for you too – it’s such a hard decision to make, but I don’t think I’ll ever regret having more time with my children, regardless of how much they love their nursery!

  • sally 21/02/2015 at 5:22 pm

    Very glad it’s working out. It’s so hard to treat our children differently and yet impossible to treat them the same all the time. This one only gets harder as they get older too!