Finding the right nursery

An example of how this new mum used a one-page profile to find the right nursery for her daughter.

Scarlett's 8 month one-page profile

Scarlett’s 8 month one-page profile

Written by Rowan Hall, Mum to Scarlett

For the first two months of my daughter’s life I didn’t put her down. She looked too small and fragile to be out of my arms and I had an overpowering urge to keep her close to me so that she could hear my heartbeat, smell my skin next to hers, find her milk, know that she wasn’t alone in this strange new world. I was encouraged by friends to move from the living room into the bedroom to get some rest after a fortnight but I can’t even remember feeling tired. All I wanted to do was to look after her. It was early August and the Olympics were on the TV 24 hours a day. Together Scarlett and I watched as Jessica Ennis from our hometown of Sheffield won the gold medal in the heptathlon, Mo Farah became the first Briton to win Olympic 10000m gold and Gemma Gibbons looked to the sky and called her Mum’s name as she took home silver in the Judo. I’ll never forget those moments – I’m teary now as I write. There I was watching people fulfil their lifelong ambitions, realising their dreams, whilst I held my greatest achievement so far in my arms.

When Scarlett was eight months old it was time for me to go back to work. I’d been worrying about this and wasn’t feeling comfortable about the amount of time I would be away from her each day. There was also quite a lot of uncertainty about whether I could do the part-time hours I wanted in my old job and I decided that the best option for my family was to go freelance and be based at home. I started writing about person-centred practices, something I feel passionate about after experiencing the results myself in pregnancy and birth. As well as doing something I loved, my new role meant that I could manage my own time and not leave Scarlett for long periods.

I still had the task of finding the right nursery though; somewhere that I knew Scarlett would feel safe and happy without me. As is typical for me, I did a lot of research and made a lot of visits. But part way through the process I realised that I was struggling to compare the different options. They were all so similar in many ways and there were positives and negatives to each. Part of the problem was that I wasn’t comparing the nurseries against my own criteria but against theirs. I’d come away from each visit with a pile of information; Ofsted reports, health and safety certificates, routines. The Nursery Managers were sharing with me what they thought I needed to know in order to make a decision but the emphasis was all wrong. I needed to think about what was important to and for Scarlett and then make my decision based on her as an individual.

I wrote a list. I didn’t realise it at the time but this was actually the start of Scarlett’s one-page profile. I was thinking about what she needed to be supported well and wanted to use this list to work through our options. I came up with the following criteria: Kindness and attitude of staff, quality of the food, time spent outdoors, approach to play, safety and proximity to home (and me of course!).

Scarlett’s nursery is across the road. They have a cook serving fresh, unprocessed food daily. They have three separate outdoor areas and Scarlett’s key worker is loving and kind to her. I wrote up the rest of her one-page profile and took this across on her first day. I feel confident that they understand what she needs and can support her well, not just because they have a copy of her profile but because when looking at nurseries, I thought long and hard about what was important to and for her as an individual and then found the best match.

Scarlett is a happy, healthy little girl and changes every day. The difference now to when I first wrote her profile is remarkable – and keeping it up-to-date is going to be  wonderful way of capturing those precious moments in time and looking back on how she has developed.

You can read more about using person-centred thinking tools in pregnancy birth and parenthood here.

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