Are You Ready for Your Child’s First Day at Daycare?
Maternity leave has run out. Your boss wants you back. It brings tears to your eyes just thinking about it, but the time has come to return to work. Ugh! And on top of adjusting yourself the change, now you also have to prepare your child to start daycare. Here are five ways you can prepare for your child’s first day at daycare.
CHOOSE THE SCHOOL
This is the hardest decision of your life, but if you give yourself time and get on the waiting lists early you’ll have choices. When I was pregnant with my first daughter we toured daycares and put our names on the lists, and although it seemed so early at the time (6 months ahead) we were so happy we did it because we had no idea how hard it is to get into a daycare!
A week before school starts your daycare will give you a practice day where you bring your child in for 2-3 hours. The practice day is as much for you as it is for your child. If you’re like me, you’ll be sitting in the car crying for 20 minutes after drop off wondering if it will get any easier leaving your child with strangers. But it does! And you’ll be fine! And they’ll do great!
TIP: Ask the teachers if you can stay for the first 20 minutes to make the transition easier. It’ll give you a chance to observe how the room works and give you peace of mind. You’ll also have a chance to get to know the teachers one-on-one, and you can give them some easy tips to console your child.
PACK IT UP
Your school will give you a list of items that you need to bring in for your first day. These are the items that will stay in your child’s cubby and only be used by them. It usually includes 3 packs of wipes, diapers, diaper cream, suntan lotion, 2 sets of extra outfits, light jacket, blanket or pacifier, etc. Daily you’ll need to bring in bottles, lunch and snacks that are appropriate for your child. Depending on the school, some may provide snacks (goldfish, applesauce, etc) as well.
MORNING DROP OFF
This is the toughest one. Tears for all of us, but a new routine takes about 2 weeks for your child to get used to so you just need to hang tight. If your little one cries at school drop off, there are a few things you can do to make it easier. Maybe bring in your child’s lovie, blanket or pacifier to help soothe them, or maybe even a new one that is special just to daycare!
TIP: For the first few weeks of transition, my kids get to pick out a new sticker sheet to have at school and share with friends in class.
When giving the teachers an update in the morning keep it short and sweet. The most important things first. They’ve got so many parents running in and out, they’re not really able to retain everything. And if you’ve got a lot to say, then write it down for them and have them post on the wall. I find that this made me feel like I got it off my chest, and if the teachers changed shifts then (hopefully) the next person would read and get an update. Maybe a nice goodie basket with snacks and coffee drinks will help butter them up!
TIP: If you feel like your words are falling on deaf ears, then speak up! Tell the principal or lead teacher that you are not feeling like your concerns are being taken seriously. They are a business, and they need to listen to their customers.