Dad’s the Word Column: Navigating the world of pre-school

Freelance writer, blogger and married dad-of-two Gareth Ellis talks about choosing the right pre-school and childcare changes…

Rupert has just started pre-school.

We’ve just hit an important milestone where we’ve stopped paying for his childcare, as he turned three in November, and now he’s off, six hours a day, four days a week, and he absolutely loves it.

Picking a pre-school is mind boggling. We spent a long time looking at various places, checking they had a good OFSTED report, speaking to the people in charge and making sure that it would suit Rupert.

No mean feat when you’re trying to make a 3-year-old happy who changes his mind at the drop of a hat.

When children enter the world of childcare it’s a strange time for parents. You want them to be absolutely fine and just confidently walk in without a backwards glance, but then feel sad if they do.

Rupert is a happy medium. He loves pre-school and talks constantly about it. He gets excited about going and then when we arrive he smiles, gives me a cuddle and then confidently walks in.

However, at the end of the day he jumps up and down in excitement that I’m at the door to pick him up, a bit of affirmation that he does still love me and wants to spend time with me.

So that’s it. After being a full-time daddy to two for seven months since Jess went back to work, I’ve now got four days a week of respite, where I’ll only be in charge of one small human.

Saying that though, it’s strangely easier to look after two than it is to look after just one.

Before, I had Rupert to keep Emi occupied if I needed to clean the kitchen or make lunch.

Now, everywhere I go I have a shadow following me, desperate for me to play another game or read another book, sad that her little buddy isn’t there to help her get into mischief and quite literally lead her astray.

It will give me a chance to focus on her without my attention being split between her and her brother.

Plus, we will still have Fridays to have fun all together – and for daddy to be stressed.

Gareth writes a regular blog at and you can follow him on Instagram @dads_the_word_blog

This feature was published in the February/March 2022 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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