• A new Mum’s first hand experience at Radlett Nursery.

    Tell us about how your journey started with First Place Nurseries?

    My daughter started at First Place Radlett when she was 11 months and she has now been attending for 6 months. I had signed her up when she was just a few weeks old as I had heard about how long nursery waiting lists can be. As it was during lock-down we felt a little lost with where to start, however, I had been recommended a few nurseries in the area and so I did some research.

    It was the location, primary school links and good reputation that First Place had in the local area that stood out to us. I came across the virtual tour on their website and then had a lovely chat with the Nursery Manager. Luckily, we were able to visit the nursery in person when lock-down restrictions were lifted.

    After having a tour of the nursery from the Manager I felt so reassured that it was the right, caring environment for my baby. They didn’t see her as another number, they took a genuine interest in her personal needs and understood that every child has their own routines. All the staff were super friendly in every room we looked around which left a first and lasting impression with me.

    How did you feel when the time came for her to start?

    I was slightly anxious as I guess a lot of parents would be when leaving your child for the first time, but with my maternity leave coming to an end I sadly needed to get back to work. I definitely felt that undercurrent of ‘Mum guilt’! I knew the socialisation within a nursery environment would really benefit her and was excited about how much fun she would have as well as how much she would develop and learn.

    During her settling in sessions I was reassured that I could call the nursery as many times as I wanted, although in reality I didn’t actually need to call as the nursery kept me updated throughout her whole stay. At First Place I was set up on the ‘Famly’ app where I can log in and get updates on what she had eaten, her nap timings and nappy changes. I thought this was brilliant! As a new parent I had become slightly routine obsessed and it was so good to see the nursery continue this for me. It is reassuring to be able to check the Famly app for updates throughout the day and see regular observations. My favourite bit is seeing photos and little videos of her at play.

    What made you choose a nursery setting over other childcare options such as a childminder or nanny?

    I had many chats with my friends and family about what kind of childcare was best and everyone had different opinions and reasons for each option depending on their own situation and requirements.

    I had to do what was right for us as a family. It was tricky as we wanted her to feel like she was in a nurturing, home environment, yet I wanted her to interact with more than just one or two children in the week. It was important to us that she had the social development, but we didn’t know if a nursery environment would feel too big and ‘school like’ as she was still so young. However, the attraction of a nursery was the larger range of activities and equipment to support her development and also the benefit from the social interaction. 

    Looking around the nursery was really beneficial to get the right feeling and I quickly made up my mind that it was the right decision. It wasn’t at all the classroom feel I was expecting and the baby room ‘Milky Way’ felt warm and welcoming with comfy areas, it was just so calm! All the babies were engaged in sensory play experiences, fun activities or were sitting with a staff member looking at a book together – for some reason I had always visioned chaos! They also had a darkened separate sleep room which impressed me a lot as had not seen this whilst visiting other nurseries and this made me feel better about nap concerns. 

    Continuity of care was also something that had crossed my mind and again something that I couldn’t fault. Not only does her keyworker know her inside out but all the staff know her so well already, it feels like one big family.

    How has your child developed since being at nursery?

    At an early age I could tell my daughter was an outgoing child who loved watching older children play so I knew she would enjoy nursery. She liked to get involved in everything, always ‘busy’ and exploring different toys and activities. At First Place her independence is encouraged by staff but she also knows that help and cuddles are readily available for her when she wants them.

    With my daughter starting at 11 months old it felt like a key time for her development. Looking back now I believe many of her key achievements took place so smoothly because she was at nursery. During her first few weeks of being there she started to walk and I honestly believe that was down to watching her mobile nursery friends lead the way to explore in a safe environment.

    When she started at First Place she was still on a couple of bottles of milk during the day as her weaning journey was a slow one and she didn’t have much enjoyment for food. After few weeks of being at nursery she had moved on from the baby pureed meals and wanted the same as her older friends. Now, she feeds herself with her own spoon at home and asks for “more please”. I can’t thank the staff enough for supporting me and working together on this as it had become a challenge at home.

    What is it like taking your child to nursery now?

    She just loves it! I can happily say that I no longer get any ‘Mum guilt’ as I know and can see how much she is benefitting from her days at First Place. Just to see her little face with a big smile when I hand her over to the nursery staff in the morning is such a lovely thing. It’s also equally as nice to feel excited to pick her up at the end of the day and see her run towards me with another big smile as she points out her friends and teachers as she babbles away telling me about her day.

    What advice would you give to someone looking into childcare for their children?

    Definitely visit a few nurseries before making a decision as you will get a feeling about which one is right one for your child. Also, don’t leave it too late. Good, sought after nurseries can have very long waiting lists – sometimes a year or over!

    Be prepared for some tears and sadness (from both sides!) but please be reassured that it soon ends. It takes some children longer to settle but I really do think that it’s often a lot harder for the parent. In the beginning it is tough to adapt to going back to work after spending so much time with your baby. Now I know that it has been the best thing for me, my family and especially my daughter. She is happy, thriving and developing so well at First Place – the staff are incredible.