I read a great Blog post online this week about a little girl’s last day with her childminder before she moves on to big school.  It was her mother’s account of how heartbreaking a day it was for her and her daughter, and how it’s easy to forget the impact that childminders, pre-school and nursery teachers have on our children; after all, they spend an awful lot of time with them, rely on them, learn from them and grow to love them.

When I decided to go back to work, when Lylah was around 10 months old, there was no doubt in my mind who would look after her.  My mum loves my children like they’re her own, and she made it clear from early on that I wouldn’t have to worry about childcare, she was happy to help us out.  Between my husband working his days off to suit my working needs, my Nan and Grandad, and my Mum and Dad, our little girl was taken care of, while I had to go back to work part-time.  I longed to stay off work for longer, I was devastated to have to go back and just wanted to be at home with my first born, but I knew how lucky I was to be leaving her with family, my nearest and dearest, and I was reassured by the fact that Lylah loved them so much and felt so comfortable with them.

Today, I dropped Lylah off at my mum’s house for the very last time before her new chapter starts.  My biggest girl, my first born, is off to school, and she won’t need her Nonna (nan) or her Great Nanny quite as much now.  I’m not sure how much Lylah understood of this.  She knows she’ll still see everyone so often, but she doesn’t realise how things will change.  How school will be a huge part of life, and there won’t be as much playing at home, shopping with mummy, days out with Nonna.  I know it won’t be too much to start with, but the first year with the odd spellings to learn and bring home, will turn into the next years with more homework, and then years down the line, she’ll be studying for exams…and I remember how all consuming those were.

There is this tiny little chapter at the start of your child’s life, age 0-4, which in the beginning feels like a lifetime, an endless amount of time that you have to spend with this wonderful tiny human being that you have made.  Then you turn around one day and realise they are not so tiny any more.  They don’t need you quite as much, and they are about to embark on their own adventure.  Those first few years are filled with long, draining days, and nights that can feel like a nightmare, but in a flash, they’re gone.

Lylah has reached the next stage of her little life.  She is starting school, and along with that comes so much excitement from our little girl.  But there also comes some sadness, probably not so much from her, but from me, to witness these chapters beginning and ending.  To see her move along into the next stage, blissfully unaware of how quickly she is growing up before our eyes.

And along with it has come the last days of our own incredible version of childcare for Lylah.  My supportive, loving, caring and hard-working Mum and Dad.  Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to go back to work and it actually be worth my while.  I know people who don’t have the same level of support I do, and I feel immensely lucky.  Mum and Dad, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.  And to my own incredibly patient, hands on, wonderful grandparents.  You have helped us so much, and we are so grateful.  The smiles on my children’s faces in this photo demonstrates the love they have for her.  My own nan doesn’t enjoy having her photo taken, so I won’t embarrass her by publishing one, but I can guarantee you one thing, the children’s smiles would be just as bright.

To every little person and their parents leaving their child care situations for the very last time, I’m with you; and to every person out there who has helped someone with childcare so a working mummy like me can go back to work and be a parent, thank you so so much.  The effort you put into help raising our children is incredible, and you will be missed by our little ones.