Managing the Nursery – through the eyes of a new Mum
4th April 2016
Recently we have realised that a good percentage of our Daybreak staff are all Mums and the majority of their children are members of Daybreak. Continuing with our #wearemumstoo campaign we have another staff interview for you today this time from the manager of one of our Rickmansworth nurseries. Claire has been a staff member of Daybreak for 10 years, firstly working at Rickmansworth Town Centre nursery as a deputy manager and then becoming manager of Rickmansworth Shepherds lane when the nursery first opened in 2012.
Claire has a little boy Leo who is now 13 months old. Claire and Leo returned to Daybreak together in September 2015 after their maternity leave. Claire returned as a part time manager at RSL working on Monday to Thursday.
1. Hi Claire, welcome back to Daybreak. Firstly how are you finding juggling the responsibility of being a manager and a Mum too? Is it getting any easier?
I was initially worried about returning to work and getting back into a routine after having 7 months off but after just a few weeks it felt like I had never been away – in a good way!
Parents, families and staff made me feel very welcome and the management team caught me up an all the news.
At first I found it really hard to leave Leo, but knowing the team in baby room made it easier and of course I have every confidence in each and every member of the team – I employ them after all. Even so, first time mum nerves are inevitable but after just a few weeks I felt at ease and Leo settled in and now nursery feels like his second home. The staff take great care of him and I can focus on managing the nursery and have the added bonus of popping in for cuddles with him every now and then.
2. Before you came back to work, were you really worried about your return as Shepherds Lane manager? What were you and your partner’s main concern?
My main worry was getting up and out the house by 7.30am with a baby and not being late for work!
I also worried about how Leo would settle in and how much I would miss him but now we are in a routine I really treasure our Fridays together and I feel like the work balance is right.
My husband wasn’t worried, he’s so laid back and he knew Leo would enjoy nursery.
3. Were you worried about Leo settling in ok and how easy was that process for you as a family? Did you find it difficult not to interfere knowing Leo was close by?
I was always conscious not to make the staff feel nervous in any way about having the ‘managers son’ in the room and wanted to be treated the same as all the other parents. It’s worked out fine, the staff are great, they know me very well and we have a good relationship. I have times where I can talk to them as a parent and times when I talk to them as a manager.
4. How have you found coping with any illnesses Leo may have had and dealing with the policies regarding nursery exclusion periods?
Leo has had a fair bit of time off since he started nursery which I expected as children do pick up everything when they join any nursery setting. being working parents it is of course difficult at times when we both have work commitments, but when Leo is poorly, I couldn’t imagine not being there to comfort him. My husband and I take it in turns to take time off when Leo is poorly.
5. Being a manager you have a lot of responsibilities to deal with on a day to day basis. Did you struggle to get back into the swing of your job having been on maternity leave? Do you find having Leo in the same building a positive experience?
I found that I got back into the swing of things quicker than I thought I would. I enjoy my job and I am so lucky having Leo here too – its definitely a positive experience having him in the same building.
6. If you could do it all again, would you do the same or is there any advice you would give to yourself to ease the process?
I would do the same, although not sure if I’m ready to do it all again just yet!!
7. As a mum and a manager you are closely involved in the menu and catering at Daybreak. How have you found Leo’s introduction to foods supplied by Daybreak?
I was nervous because Leo was weaning when we started but speaking to the chef and talking about my worries has really helped and I always encourage parents to come and talk to me if they have any concerns – I wouldn’t want anyone worrying about something that we could sort out together.
8. Do you find you have more understanding with how the nurseries parents are feeling and how you deal with their concerns?
Yes, I always felt like I tried to understand all parent’s worries, concerns or anxieties before I had Leo but now I can really relate and use examples of my own experiences. I also think when new parents join its reassuring for them to hear about the staff who have children here.
Thank you for your time Claire, it seems like your coping very well with the work/life balance and Leo looks like a gorgeous, happy little boy.