My son hates daycare

"He rarely stopped crying."
"He rarely stopped crying." Photo: Getty Images

Knowing you've made a mistake is a horrible feeling, but knowing you've messed up as a parent and not done right by your child is truly awful. And that's how I feel. Of course I've had little slip ups along this way of this rollercoaster journey that is motherhood, but what I'm talking about this time is more than a slip up. It's a major error of judgement that I've made - and I should have known better.

I'm talking about daycare. I got it wrong, we're giving up, and I'm pulling my son out.

Let me explain.

I started looking around our London suburb for daycare centres almost as soon as we moved here at the start of the year. I wanted to enrol Milin somewhere he could spend two mornings a week socialising and playing with other children in a different environment from home.

I wasn't overly concerned about him learning the alphabet in four languages (they teach French, Spanish and Japanese at the daycare I chose), but I did want him to have fun and I thought he'd love the different toys and people.

I found the perfect place. Coincidentally, the daycare I chose was in a converted old house that I spent countless happy hours in as a child. It belongs to my uncle and is leased out to the daycare company now, but it was the house my cousins grew up in. I have many, many happy childhood memories of playing in the room which is Milin's classroom and in the huge garden where the toddlers play each summer morning.

Sadly, Milin won't have the same happy memories of the big old house down the road.

We started the settling in period two and a half months ago. I started by staying with him, and then would leave him for small amounts of time. I'd spend the entire session in the office, watching him on the camera that recorded the action in every room. He rarely stopped crying.

Two and a half months on, Milin screams when we get to the carpark. My husband or I hand him over quickly to the wonderful staff, and even though he stops screaming eventually after we leave, he isn't happy for the few hours he is there. He mopes around, never letting go of his comfort bunny. He used to rely on it only to sleep, but since starting daycare, he also uses it during the day.


He rarely joins in with the play activities, he rarely eats anything at all while he is there, and he rarely stops asking for mummy. The staff carry him round to stop him from crying. He has obviously joined in a little. He can do all the actions to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star  suddenly. He stands on one leg or shows off a pretty good downward dog when you ask him to do yoga. (Yes, they teach them yoga.) But mostly, he is the little downcast boy in the corner waiting for his mummy.

I'm not blaming the centre or the staff. I think the staff in his classroom are lovely and the centre is wonderful with an ethos I support and am happy with. Daycare just isn't right for Milin right now and I should have figured that out sooner and listened to my heart. Perhaps going twice a week isn't enough to get used to it. Perhaps starting him at 16 months was too late. Perhaps it has a lot to do with our new arrival.

Milin was attending daycare for two months before his little sister Jasmin was born. But it's obviously been too much change. While I thought he would be settled in by the time she was born, he wasn't. Now, he's having to cope with a new baby at home and being sent off to a place he doesn't want to go to (without his mummy), and it's all too much.

Looking back, I should have made the decision earlier instead of putting him through this. But I so wanted him to like it, I so wanted him to run into the classroom with a big smile on his face like the other kids do. I so wanted him to sit around the little table and eat his lunch with his friends and then quietly go to sleep on the mats on the floor. I so wanted him to enjoy it.

Now that it's got this far, I feel like I've tortured him for no reason - that's the slip up, the mistake, the horrible error of judgement. I wish he knew how sorry I was, and how I didn't mean for it to work out like this.

- Essential Mums.

Have you ever made a parenting error of judgement? Comment below.