trouble in paradise for S at nursery


S has always got on really well at nursery. When she first started there it was a massive decision for me to leave her while I went to work. The way that she settled in there helped me to realise I’d made the best possible choice of nursery. She has always really enjoyed her time there, and I have never once questioned my decision to send her there. Aside from the odd hiccup here and there, she’s done really well at settling in and coping with changes.

By the time she moved to the next room when she turned 2, I was working from home. More than one friend had recently experienced terrible trouble with their toddler moving rooms (at different nurseries), and I was terrified. I told myself that it would be fine; now that I worked from home, if S did not cope well with moving rooms, I could always just remove her from nursery and entertain her at home while I worked. Thankfully, that never happened – and I was so pleased to see how quickly and happily she settled into her new room. My kisses goodbye quickly became an afterthought, with S eager to get into the play dough or sand or fire engines as soon as she was through the door.

a photo from S's nursery learning journey

a photo from S’s nursery learning journey


The last couple of weeks have been different, though. S has become more and more clingy at nursery. She’s fine getting ready and leaving the house; we have a lovely walk to nursery, pointing out all the things we see and talking about who she’ll see when she’s there… but once we get through the door, it’s a different matter.

S is no longer happy to go off and play with her friends; she wants to cling to me. I can’t even turn around to put her coat on a peg without her grabbing hold of me. One day last week, one of the other mums miraculously managed to persuade S to come with her to the other side of the room to have a teddy bears’ picnic with her, and I made a swift escape. Sometimes she can be persuaded to say goodbye to me with the promise that one of the staff will hold her up to the window to wave goodbye to me. Sometimes I can sneak out and she doesn’t seem too bothered that I’ve gone. On every other morning though, we’ve descended into the sort of coaxing, whining and inevitable wailing I have never experienced with S before.

On Friday, it was just plain awful. When we got up in the morning I said “shall we get dressed and go to nursery” and her response was, “no. I don’t like nursery.” Eventually I managed to get her dressed and fed, and she was fine on the walk to nursery. She seemed perfectly happy as we walked down the street, and after that first  we walked in the door and removed her coat… and then I spent 20 minutes on my knees, with S doing that annoying thing toddlers do where they just lean on you and refuse to stand. Any time I took even a step away from her, she got upset. Eventually I almost managed to sneak out of the door, but she spotted me just as I closed the safety gate behind me and we ended up spending several minutes with her trying to drag me back into the room, wailing and screaming “no Mummy, no!” while I knelt on the other side of the gate reassuring her that I would be back later and everything would be fine (whilst trying desperately not to cry).

S’s keyworker called me a little while later to reassure me that S was fine; she’d quickly settled into playing, and after a little while had looked up and said “all better now!” with a smile. I was relieved she wasn’t still screaming the place down, but it didn’t stop me from feeling awful that my child has suddenly un-settled herself from nursery.

I know she loves nursery; she has a fantastic time, and when I go to pick her up she’s always playing happily. We talk about all the things she’s done during the day, and she’s always keen to come back the next day. On Friday when I collected her, she was happily playing

Aside from the not settling at nursery, she seems to have become more clingy at home too. Last weekend I ended up taking my laptop upstairs and spending the entire evening on the bed with her because she didn’t want me to leave her alone. It’s nice that she wants more cuddles, but worrying that she’s suddenly decided she doesn’t want to be on her own, or stay at nursery without me. Apparently she’s been having weepy moments throughout the day at nursery too, which is not like her.

Nursery think she’s become a little unsettled because they’ve just had several children leave the room to move to the preschool room, and new children have come downstairs. It’s not the first time that’s happened since she started in that room though, and it will have happened while she was in her old room too. It could be that the people she was used to playing with have gone, but there are still 3 children who are there most mornings and have been in that room since September I think. It is a relatively small room though, and usually only has around 8 children in it on any given day, if that. One child missing from there would be much more noticeable than from any of the other rooms which have a lot more children in them.

They think perhaps over the course of the last couple of weeks, S has fallen into a sort of habit, where she wants me to stick around and gets upset if I leave but for no real reason. They suggest that when we go back tomorrow, I should try and leave as quickly as possible. I’m not sure I can bear to do that, though. I can’t deliberately make her cry.

I woke up at 3am the other morning, convinced there must be something wrong with her; perhaps she’s ill and just can’t tell me which bit hurts, so is whiney and clingy instead. She’s got a bit of a cold at the moment; perhaps she has ear ache or a headache or something, and here I am trying to force her to spend the day in a room of screaming toddlers!

S’s keyworker was very helpful, and has said they will make sure there are activities out waiting for her when she arrives in the mornings. I’ve said we’ll leave for nursery later so that she’s not the first one in; perhaps if she arrives to a room full of children already happily playing she’ll want to join in. I’m thinking about maybe enlisting my sister’s help to drop her to nursery a couple of times, to see if she has any more luck. Perhaps if it is a habit then a couple of days of someone else dropping her off will help to break it. When I collected her on Friday the other lady who works in S’s room thought maybe her clinginess and weepiness was to do with her being constipated – which is something she’s had trouble with for a long while, but I thought was improving. She’s had some medicine over the weekend to try and help with that.

It’s fair to say I’m very apprehensive about Monday morning’s trip to nursery.


I can’t help but feel I’m missing something. Perhaps something I’ve said or done has caused this. I know I’ve been busy since Christmas, and thought that might have caused it but I’ve made extra effort over the last couple of weeks to spend more time with S and pay her more attention… and meanwhile the nursery drop off has grown worse. Perhaps she’s ill, and I’m being the world’s worst mother by not taking her to the doctor, and forcing her to go to nursery instead, where she’s distracted enough to ignore whatever is wrong for a few hours at a time. I feel like as her mother, and the only person she has to rely on for such things, I should be able to tell what the problem is and fix it for her.

Part of me feels like this is the sort of thing I was worried about happening when S was first born – that there would be something wrong, and I would be unable to help her, clueless as to what the problem even was. I suppose I’m just lucky I made it this far before it happened.

Categories: Uncategorized

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


Jenny Eaves · 08/02/2015 at 08:29

It’s not your fault, don’t blame yourself for her suddenly unsettling. My kids aren’t in nursery, but a lot of my friends kids are and they’ve gone through the same thing. Maybe some of the older kids your daughter liked have moved up to the next room and she’s not feeling so secure, that seems to be something that bothered my friends kids, I think it can be quite difficult having to cope with change. I imagine you already have lots of mummy daughter special time, doing things she enjoys with you, just keep doing that and I’m sure she’ll get through it knowing you’re always there for her. Fingers crossed she’s back to her normal self at nursery soon! :) xx

    Vicky Charles · 08/02/2015 at 10:13

    Thanks Jenny. I’ve tried to make this weekend really quiet and low key, just the two of us spending time together. She seems fine so far – but then, she did last weekend too, so who knows!

Trisha · 08/02/2015 at 08:48

Being a mum is such a worrying job! Sending lots of good vibes for Monday morning x

    Vicky Charles · 08/02/2015 at 10:12

    Thanks… I’ve got everything crossed! x

Little White Dinosaur · 08/02/2015 at 14:05

Oh, I really hope the morning drop offs get easier for you. It must be so difficult to see her so upset when you leave. I read a book recently about children’s dominant senses and through knowing your child’s dominant sense, you can help them through their behavior. For example, my son’s dominant sense is physical and so he thrives from big hugs, kisses and lots of movement. If I don’t make enough time for him during the day, I really notice how needy he is by the afternoon, as though he’s just demanding some cuddles and needs to re-charge his his little cuddle and touch batteries!! When I make a point to cuddle, touch, kiss and physically play with him, it makes a huge difference to how the rest of the day goes.
It might be something to read about, just out of interest for you, as there are a huge range of areas that could be affecting her, because of her dominant sense.

    Vicky Charles · 08/02/2015 at 14:16

    Ooh, what is the book called/who is it by?
    S gets tons of cuddles and kisses, but I guess if physical is not her dominant sense it would be worth concentrating on something else!

Lauren · 08/02/2015 at 17:31

I am sorry to hear you are going through this! Anytime I would move my son or daughter to a new room there was always a shake up due to the transition. Give it a few weeks and maybe she will be better. :)

    Vicky Charles · 09/02/2015 at 17:01

    Thanks. I’m hoping it’s just a bit of a phase.

Lisa (mummascribbles) · 08/02/2015 at 17:44

Every time I read your posts and tweets just recently, it’s like reading my own! I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago as we have the exact same issue. Ever since christmas Zach has been like this – absolutely fine leading up to nursery and as soon as we get in the room and I try to say goodbye, he clings into me for dear life, cries and sometimes tries to follow me out shouting ‘want a cuddle, want mummy’. It is absolutely heartbreaking so I know just how you feel. I do know that within seconds of me leaving, he is fine – I often stand outside until he’s stopped being upset – but it doesn’t make it any easier leaving a sobbing child behind. I have no doubt that S loves it and it’s just a phase so try not to worry too much lovely xxx

    Vicky Charles · 08/02/2015 at 19:59

    how funny, when I read your post about Zach it was just like I’d written it! S is very determined to be independent at the moment. I think perhaps she’s having some sort of a spurt/phase where she’s wanting to be more independent but scared of that too. I’m trying not to worry, thanks for commenting. It’s good to know it’s not just me and that a lot of children seem to go through it x

Donna · 08/02/2015 at 19:21

Sounds like she’s either just going through a phase. Or something has happened – beyond your control – which has unsettled her. That could be something as little as a disagreement with another child, or a friend moving into a different room. Or it could just be that she enjoyed your company over the Christmas break and is finding it difficult being apart again.
Whatever it is, if you continue encouraging and working with the nursery to make things easier for her, I’m sure she’ll adapt.

    Vicky Charles · 08/02/2015 at 19:55

    Thanks Donna. Am really struggling with feeling so helpless over it all. S has gone to bed this evening in a reasonably good mood so fingers crossed for the morning…

Sophie · 08/02/2015 at 22:34

Hmm this sounds exactly like what my daughter has been doing at nursery too for a while now, I can’t fathom it either, but I guess it’s because they realise that they are spending less time physically with us around so close to call on. :\ I guess it would happen sooner or later though, whether that be now whilst at nursery, or when they start school full time? I don’t know, I hadn’t had anything to do with children before I had Sienna lol

I’m sure our Sprogs will be fine though, I imagine it is just a phase for them, I hope…. hehe :) xxxx

    Vicky Charles · 09/02/2015 at 16:52

    I know what you mean – I’ve no prior experience with kids, just my one – so I’ve no idea if this is just something all kids do. Fingers crossed things were a little easier today – and she was certainly in a great mood when I went to collect her!

Katy {What Katy Said} · 10/02/2015 at 19:23

Oh it must be so hard. I think they do go through a phase of it though. They are right, leaving quickly with no fuss will help, not that it will seem like it at the time x

    Vicky Charles · 10/02/2015 at 22:13

    Thanks. We had an okay morning on Monday but today was a little tough. Hoping for improvement when we go back Thursday!

Mim · 16/02/2015 at 19:24

This sounds so tough – leaving them is hard enough isn’t it without you feeling that they’re sad or distressed when away from you. Clinginess, as nice as it might sound sometimes, is so hard on you too because you simply have things to get done! I hope today went better for you? Mim @ #WeekendBlogHop

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