Make it easier for you before the big day

Be organised

The last thing you want is to be stressed before you even leave the house to drop your tot off. Get everything from clothes to lunchboxes ready the night before, and be sure of any dates and times you need to remember. Pin up the Family Weekly Planner, £10.99, from Organised Mum, in your kitchen so you’ll never miss what’s going on at pre-school.

Toddlers soon learn that it can be more fun playing with friends

Be a label Mabel

You’ll be amazed how many children at nursery have the same George at ASDA trousers and Start-rite shoes. Using name labels will help you keep track ( do 72 iron-on ones for £7). “It’s amazing how distressed a child can become if they think they’ve lost their jumper or are wearing someone else’s,” says Katy.

Have a baby and see you social life blossom! (according to research)

Talk to other mums

“There will always be a parent who’s feeling the same as you,” says Katy. “Within any group, other mums will have done all of this already with a child, so share your fears and they can help give you support, reassurance and guidance through this big emotional step in your mum-life.”

According to the latest figures, almost two out of every three children, aged 3 to 4 years, head off to nursery.

Make it easier for you on the big day

See her settle

Most toddlers cry when you drop them off at nursery because you’re still there, and once you leave, they’re fine. “To reassure parents this really is the case, nurseries often invite parents to watch the CCTV in an office for five or 10 minutes until their child calms down,” says Purnima. “Then they can leave with their minds at rest.” Some are happy to email you a digital snap of your tot once she’s settled so you can be assured that all is well.

Stay busy

Make sure you’ve planned a day of activities so you stay occupied. Some mums want to stay near to the nursery in case there’s a problem. That’s fine, as long as you’re busy and not just being a nervous Nelly hanging around the gates, waiting. Try lunch with a friend, shopping or running errands (you’ve got enough to do!). Just don’t sit at home – a watched clock won’t tick any faster.

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Keep your phone on

Remember, if there’s a problem, the nursery will ring you. Have your mobile on loud rather than silent and your battery fully charged.

The cost of good childcare is rising each year despite the economic climate

Mums’ stories

“I won’t lie – I cried my eyes out when I dropped Max off at nursery for the first time. I sat in a nearby coffee shop and counted the minutes ‘till pick-up time. I felt better when the staff told me he was happily playing with other kids.”

Karen Cornell, 29, from Surrey, mum to Max, 17 months

“Jacques started nursery when he was 1, and he had a couple of two-hour settling-in sessions. For his first session I made sure he had his dummy and comforter and I told his keyworker what he liked to eat and drink. I spent the time having a bra fitting, which I couldn’t have done with Jacques or my hubbie in tow. Focusing on myself helped me not miss him so much.”

Alexandra Champagne, 36, from Surrey, mum to Jacques, 20 months

“Malachai’s first day at nursery school was very exciting, and he looked so cute in his little uniform. I was a bit apprehensive leaving him at first, but having spoken to the teacher I was reassured they would call if he was unhappy. When I went to pick him up he told me he didn’t want to go home but wanted to stay and play with his new friends. A few months on and he still loves it, even asking at the weekend if he’s going to school.”

Laura Johnson, 24, from London, mum to Malachai, 3, and Ethan, 1

Ask lots of questions when you visit your shortlisted nursery choices, to ensure you pick one your child will be happy at.

Which nursery works for you?

Day nursery:

  • Designed for working parents.
  • Many are open all day, 8am-6pm, all year round.
  • If they have a baby room, they may take babies from 3 months old.

Nursery school:

  • Tend to run morning or afternoon sessions during term time only.
  • For pre-school children
  • Suitable for toddlers aged between 3 and 4.