Back to Roots Baby recently spoke to Care.com family and parenting experts, Rosemary Albone and Sigrid Daniel about how to choose between nanny or nursery care when you go back to work.
What is the right age for mum to go back to work? Is it better to get baby used to substitute childcare from an early age or wait until they are more ready emotionally?
Knowing when to head back to work is a difficult decision. When you start thinking about whether it is right for you, consider how you really feel. Do you feel pressure from an employer or spouse to go back to work? Know what is right for you. Consider your career goals and what you would like to personally achieve.
Having a baby instantly changes your life, so know there are going to be unexpected changes. Your decision whether to go back to work doesn't have to be a permanent choice. If you think things aren’t working, then give yourself the time to revisit your decision and make adjustments. Try your choice for six months though, so you give yourself a chance to settle in.
In choosing between different childcare options we need to consider the child’s age. Do toddlers have the same emotional needs as babies? How much attention and intimacy do they need?
All children have an innate need for adult responsiveness to their needs. When babies are very young, they need to feel secure in the presence of known adults unconditionally. This is known as secure attachment and is actually a lifelong investment in children feeling that they matter to someone- essential for an emotionally healthy life. Babies and children who struggle to attach in this way often have difficulty with relationships their whole life.
Some mums feel that nursery might be a good option as it gives young children an opportunity to be with other kids. Do toddlers need other children to play with? How much interaction can we expect between children under 3 years of age?
Every child is different, so it is important that you know what works best for your little one. Some children may struggle with lots of different stimuli such as a large group of children during the day and others may find it difficult to deal with transitioning to another environment, away from home. Group care can be overwhelming and some children will be sensitive to this.
Socialising is important for toddlers, although it should to be balanced with one-to-one attention from an adult whom they feel an attachment for. They will learn a lot from this adult so it’s essential there is a lot of engagement. In group environments, it’s important that parents consider the difficulties that can come up with lots of children in one space. For instance, how do you feel about other children’s behaviour and development impacting on your child’s day? How do you think your child will cope with other children who need additional discipline, and perhaps more attention?
Can nursery teach children to be independent and self-reliant?
Independence and self-reliance are qualities that we learn as we grow older, although at two or three years old it’s understandable that we haven’t quite started to develop them yet. Some children will naturally demonstrate more independence, whereas others will be a bit more needy towards Mum.
What about teaching kids about social interactions? Can you teach a two-year-old to ‘play nice’, take turns and not snatch toys?
Nannies can help children to develop key qualities, such as helping them understand the importance of helping others, through interaction and ‘leading-by-example’. Being friendly to the others around us is not only beneficial to others, but it makes us feel good too.
By showing companionship and being caring towards others we often get more out of friendships and feel better about ourselves. Of course, children will struggle with the idea of taking turns and they will want to ‘play with that toy, now!’ But this doesn’t mean your child is going to be selfish or lack empathy for others. Instead it can be an opportunity to show little one’s how fun it is let others join in too. This doesn’t have to be with other children, there will be times when a Nanny sits and plays for hours with little ones and this can be a chance for them to encourage sharing.
Can we accelerate our children’s learning by introducing them to language, reading or counting before the age of three? Is it beneficial to kids?
Communication and language are critical foundation skills that enable children to have successful childhoods and successful lives. Any language, stories, talking about the shopping list, choosing a name for the cat or describing the clothes they are wearing is amazingly impactful in the development of not only communication, but all cognitive learning; so yes, the earlier the better, but don't get hung up on things like flash cards and numbers, it’s the exchange of words and non-verbal communication which makes the difference. This quote by the educationalist James Britton captures this perfectly for me "Reading and writing float on a sea of talk"
Do under-three’s need a responsive adult who is fully tuned into their needs? Or should they be ‘socialised’ early?
Employing a nanny will give you a greater chance to shape how your children are cared for, than using a nursery. Nurseries will consult your child’s personal routines and preferences; these are then matched as closely as possible in good nurseries, but generally children fit in with the established routine of the nursery. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a negative, think about how much influence you’d like in deciding what your children do, when, how and where.