Is seven months too young for nursery?

After three settling in sessions Gabe is having his first full afternoon at nursery today. He is seven and a half months old and technically he doesn’t really need to be there. I’m not working at the moment – I’m still receiving maternity pay from my former employer but as I was on a temporary contract I don’t have a job to go back to. So there is no real reason why I couldn’t look after Gabe at home, like I have been doing for the last seven and a half months.

But the thing is, I’m exhausted. Gabe is not an easy baby to take care of. Whether it’s due to his reflux or just the way he is Gabe is not a baby who will just sit quietly and play for longer than a few minutes. I wouldn’t even mind if he was happy sat on my knee or cuddling with me but he constantly wriggles and writhes, he wants you to stand up with him and when he’s pushing a stone and a half that isn’t easy to do for long.

Oh, and Gabe is not a fan of the afternoon nap either. I don’t really know why – he generally naps well in the mornings, an hour or two in his crib but in the afternoons he will only really sleep either in the car, or sometimes on me at home. I don’t really mind that so much; I get some nice sleepy cuddles and a chance to catch up on some TV but it doesn’t give me chance to do anything else.

Toby already goes to nursery four afternoons a week – he used to go full time when I was at work and when Gabe was born we decided to keep him going part time. He enjoys it, he gets to do things he doesn’t do at home, and if I do go back to work and he has to go back full time then hopefully it won’t be too much of a shock for him.

Gabe at nursery

A month or so ago, after another sleepless night and another minor breakdown from me we decided that it would probably help everyone if Gabe was to go to nursery one afternoon a week too. Barry and I are happy with this decision and yet why, when I tell people do I feel embarrassed? I feel like I’m admitting I can’t cope with looking after my children myself. I know lots of people who’s kids are regularly looked after by their grandparents or other relatives and no-one bats an eyelid but we don’t have that option – our nearest relatives live over 200 miles away.

I know there are probably thousands of mums (and dads) around the country who look after their kids all day every day on their own and seriously, I take my hat of to them. Because I can’t do it. Looking after two little boys is exhausting and I felt like I was going slowly insane. I was irritable and snappy with Toby when he doesn’t deserve that, and I wasn’t giving Gabe all the attention he needs either.

Gabe’s been fine at nursery so far as you can probably see from the photos I’ve taken from his online learning journal. I think it might even do him good to be somewhere else and get some stimulation from being with different people and doing different things.

Gabe painting at nursery

And I’m hoping that this one afternoon a week, when I will have chance to work on my blog, or go to the dentist, or catch up on chores, or even catch up on some sleep, will help me be a better mummy the rest of the time. And I refuse to feel guilty for that.