If you've got a little one due to start nursery or school this September, you're no doubt already gearing yourself up for what constitutes a major change to your lifestyle. But if you're a working parent, you might also be wondering how on earth you'll juggle the super-awkward 'settling-in period'.
You're not alone.
I read a brilliant piece in this week's Guardian tackling this topic. The author, quoting a single mum, writes:
“It’s ludicrous,” says Dixon, from Suffolk. “It’s like schools assume there’s a woman at home baking cakes and waiting for pick-up time while their husband’s out earning a salary.” September is always the start of her busiest time of year, and she is “already panicking” at the thought of how she will manage if the headteacher at her local school isn’t willing to be flexible.
Yep, I well remember the mayhem that the nursery settling-in period caused in our lives when my lads were little, and I'm not looking forward to going through it for a third time when my youngest eventually starts nursery.
Aside from the fact that I barely had time to get home and fire up the laptop to check my emails before it was time to dash back to the school gates to collect my little darling from his settling-in session, the whole stage of easing my kids into nursery slowly just seemed like an unnecessarily long, protracted process. My kid clearly felt the same way too - whenever I arrived for pick-up he'd look at me as if to say 'But I only just got here!' and I had to drag him away from the place kicking and screaming on more than one occasion.
Working from home, I could at least squeeze my work around the crazy settling-in hours. But how on earth do you cope if you're employed and can't exactly flit in and out of the office around them? Surely if your child's of nursery age, you shouldn't have to fork out for childcare to ferry your kid back and forth during the days of adjusting slowly to the new regime.
Of course I realise that for kids who don't take well to starting nursery, the chance to take things slowly is probably welcome. But why not make that available as an option for the parents who feel that their kids would benefit from gradually phasing into the nursery groove? Why assume that all kids need to spend six weeks barely getting their coats off before it's time to get them back on again. (And we all know that nursery kids don't do coats quickly.)
Nope, I'm not a fan of the nursery settling-in period. Call me heartless, but I'd rather just drop my offspring at the nursery door and then turn on my heel and get the hell on with adjusting to this new chapter of our lives. The settling-in period was nothing short of unsettling, and I remember us all breathing a sigh of relief after the October half-term when nursery was finally business-as-usual.
What's your view? Did the settling-in period at nursery drive you to distraction, or did you find it a helpful, welcome part of helping your child get their school days off to the right start? We'd love to hear your views over on our Facebook page.