`Billie got very upset about being at nursery'

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ANNE WATKINS, a 34-year-old social worker, has two children, aged four and two. She had to go back to work when her son, Zachary, was a year old and put him in a nursery. Her daughter, Billie, started at the same nursery when she reached five months old.

"Zachary loved nursery and I had no problem sending him there at all, but Billie was a different matter. She hated it and would cry continuously. I felt very guilty leaving her there," said Mrs Watkins, who lives just outside Bristol with her husband, a Post Office worker.

"Billie needed to be with her mother and if I had the choice I would have stayed at home to look after her," she said.

"It was very difficult to leave her with anyone else, even my mother. She attended the same nursery as her brother for about a year, but always screamed every time I left her. I found myself sitting in meetings worrying about her. I was concerned that she would be angry and upset with me when I picked her up."

Mrs Watkins now works part-time and sends Billie to a different nursery three times a week. "She is that bit older now and goes to a small nursery with only eight children in each class. She seems to be thriving there," she said.

Mrs Watkins does not think that sending her daughter to nursery at such a young age will have any long-term effect on their relationship or Billie's development.

"Billie got very upset about being left when she was younger, but her development has come fantastically since she has been at the smaller nursery. The children receive individual attention and are picked up and cuddled when they are upset," she said.

"The quality of care is excellent. They do constructive arts and crafts and do group activities they would not be able to do at home," she said.

Both she and her husband believe that nursery has benefited their daughter and made her more confident. "Billie just needed a smaller more intimate environment. The first nursery was too large for her needs."

Mrs Watkins said she would not have wanted to put her daughter in full- time care. "It was fine working full-time after the birth of my son, but with my daughter it would have been impossible," she said.