Thursday Thoughts: Preschool Pressure

My little person was two in November 2016 and we don’t get the free childcare until January 2018.  I always though kids just went to preschool/playschool/nursery around the age of three and that was that.

My parents look after him two days a week and I’m so grateful and lucky to have them to do that.  I don’t think we would be able to afford childcare if not and it enables me to work two days a week and it works out well for all.

But back at about the eighteen month-ish milestone, everyone kept asking me when I would be sending him to nursery.  I choked on my tea(or probably wine if it was after midday) and laughed.

Nursery? But he’s only a baby; he’s not even two yet.  I’m pretty sure he will turn eighteen and I will still say that…

So back in September I looked at a few nurseries, took the small one with me and we considered it.

My head had listened to all the people who told me he needed to go to nursery.

But my heart said no; he’s not ready.  Even my instinct tells me that he’s not ready yet.

He’s away from me two days a week; he misses me and needs me.  And selfishly I need him.

But at the same time I do see the point that he needs to interact with children and the nursery/learn through play environment is important


Back in January when he was two and a bit I bit the bullet and signed him up to my local preschool.  I loved it and he seemed to enjoy it, but there was pressure.  He can’t just come for one or two sessions, he needs to come for three sessions.  I needed to start him potty training; but he’s not ready.

I walked home and had a little cry.  Was I doing the right thing?  Was I doing the wrong thing?

And then there was the cost.  At £20 per three hour session, I could barely afford one session a week out of my weekly budget let alone two or three.

We seem to sit dead in the middle for any schemes available for help; we earn too much for childcare help yet we are deemed too poor for government help to buy schemes.

And I don’t want to have to rely on the hubsefits and extra help, I really don’t.  But we are getting desperate – the cost of living and renting privately is extortionate and we can’t keep our heads above water.

It’s catch 22 – if I work more hours, I will then start paying tax again and more national insurance, so will be no better off.  Plus the price of then committing to paid childcare which swallows up 85% of my hourly wage, there is no point.

But if I give up work, or reduce my hours, we still get no help, because we are coping.  An advisor told me that if we defaulted on our rent and our bills we would get help but we will never get help as long as we keep up paying.

How bad is that?  Yes, we have a little debt, which we are managing and keeping under control.  And we don’t want to put ourselves in the red by defaulting.  What sort of lesson does that set to the small one?

I would probably say that eight out of ten mums I know that have children the same age as me have started them in preschool, and it’s working great for them.

But something in my head and heart is telling me he just isn’t ready.  And I’m not sorry or selfish – I just want to do what is best for him.  Isn’t that what every mother wants to do?

So I made a little informal plan, and decided that for now we will have fun, maybe do one or two parent and toddler groups a week.  We will go out every day, as best as health allows.  In the summertime we will see how things are and hopefully crack the potty training.  And then come September, just before he is three, we will try nursery again.

Has anyone else found similar?  Are you feeling the preschool pressure too?  Please comment below or get in touch.

Lisa xx

2 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts: Preschool Pressure

  1. You have to do what feels right for you and your family at every stage. I think you also have to accept that sometimes there is no right or wrong answer. So just do what feel right for you!

    I went back to work when my son was 15 months old. I did it because I felt guilty that my husband was struggling at work. I didn’t want to go back to work as I knew my son would be my only child and those days were so precious. But I found a really lovely part time job and for a while it seemed to work out okay.

    But we had difficulties with childcare, our debt grew bigger and I ended up working first two part time jobs and then one full-time job. Like you, we are just coping and were dealing with debt whilst getting little to no help (our tax credits were cut so much I couldn’t even afford to pay for childcare for half the hours I worked, even though I was on a decent wage, how crazy is that?)

    And now, in hindsight, I realise that all that pressure contributed to the burnout which affected my health so severely. I ignored my gut instincts all along and did what I thought was the “right” thing rather than what was right for us. And I often regret that. So my message to you, again, is do what feels right to you xx

    1. I got a bit teary reading this, to know that so many mums struggle the same! We are at that point where we can’t pay for childcare and we can just make our bills. Hugs and thankyou for reading xx

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