At some point or another, the topic of daycare becomes the main topic of family dinnertime conversation. It either comes up because maternity leave is coming to an end or more commonly because the time for a normal adult conversation to finally be had has been long overdue. In either case, there are quite a few tidbits of information moms need to know before sending their little ones to daycare for the first time. After all. sending off a little one into the care of another adult is a milestone for both parent and child.
It is pretty much the precursor to school. That little light is becoming independent and will soon be an active member of society. It is now that he or she will begin learning how to listen to another adult and interact with his or her peers. That's huge! And for mom, this may be the first time they have ever been in the care of someone who is not family. But whatever the circumstance, daycare drop off can be emotional, and sometimes traumatic for new moms.
So if the family has decided that daycare is the way to go and that anticipated/dreaded first day draws near, go easy on yourself. Plan for a mini emotional rollercoaster and a lot more. But just to provide a little clarity on how to get ready for the big day, we've compiled a list of 20 things new moms need to know when taking their little ones to daycare for the first time.
20 Even If You Love Your Job, You Might Still Be Unsure
It is okay to question your decision to send your little one to daycare about a few hundred times, even if you love your job. Even if your decision to put your little one in daycare is not professionally related, it is still okay and completely normal to question your decision.
Many new parents crave adult interaction but even still, a number of new moms find themselves doubting their decision to send their little one to daycare. Leaving your perfect little one in the care of someone else is enough to make any mom a bit crazy. So basically just prepare yourself to be a bit of an emotional trainwreck, keep reading for ways to cope.
19 Research And Ask Around
Just as you have researched countless diaper blogs on how to create the most awesome stockpile, it is time to do countless amounts of research on great daycare centers.
At the end of the day, you need to be comfortable with your choice of daycare.
You are entrusting a complete stranger to care for your child, after all. Just know that you will never have the perfect amount of information. But, creating a list about the absolute most important things a daycare must have in the beginning will be helpful in making a decision. Things like child-caregiver ratio, opening and closing times, meals, location, and play versus learning should all be taken into account.
18 Visit With Your Child
One of the biggest mistakes moms make when transitioning their little one to daycare is to do all the research, choose a great place based on what you envision for your child, but never visit the facility with your actual child.
Imagine being dropped off to a completely new place with completely unfamiliar faces and all you see is mom wave bye and poof, that's it.
When picking out a daycare, introduce your little one a few times to his or her new teacher. "Show him the toys there and do at least a couple “trial runs” where you are present," advises Alice Callahan, educator and mother.
17 Don't You Be A Grumpy
Just as they did when they were babies, children can pick up on your mood pretty quickly.
If you are crying and depressed when you are leaving your baby at daycare, there is a pretty good chance that he or she will not only notice, but also be a little freaked out.
Instead, be optimistic. This is the time when you can get back to you, you can start doing more things for you, whether it is going to work, or focusing on a new project, this is as much your moment as it is theirs. Smile, it gets easier.
16 Don’t Hang Around
At least, don't visibly hang around. Helicopter mom much? Just kidding. We're not judging, but as you are waiting to see how your little one does in what could possibly be his or her first one on one interaction with his or her peers, don't eerily leer over them and watch after you say your goodbyes hide if you do not yet have the courage to leave.
The longer you hang around and the more you drag out actually leaving, the more difficult it may be for yourself and your child to find his or her place. However one should never sneak away from their kids. Say goodbye, firmly and with love. Then get your behind out of there.
15 Staff Meet LO; LO, Meet The Staff
Introductions are so important for your child's daycare experience. Instead of "dropping off" your little one make sure he or she feels like they are being left in the capable hands of someone you trust for a short while.
In order to do this, upon arrival make sure to present your child to his or her caregiver and make sure that he or she takes your child by the hand or in their arms if they are still an infant. This way your child will feel reassured and will have a connection with his or her caregiver while you are away.
14 Straight To Voicemail
Try to be present and engaged when you are dropping off and picking up your little one. Sure you may be busy, but that call or text can wait an extra 10 minutes since you will be without your baby all day long. Giving your little one your full attention will make your little one feel special, and less like they are being left behind.
It could be very hurtful to your child if you are picking them up, or dropping them off but you are on your phone. Show your little lady or little guy you care. Be present, attentive and cheerful during this important milestone.
13 Turn Basic Into Excitement
Ready to turn basic into excitement? That is what parenting is all about right? The same goes for picking up your little one from daycare.
When collecting your child, make a huge deal about it. Give a big smile and a warm hug. Act like this is the first time you are seeing one another all over again, especially after the first day.
Ask excitedly about his or her day and make it really all about them. Be sure to express just how much you missed your little one. You may even get lucky and see a very happy baby waiting and just as excited to see you when you arrive.
12 Snuggle When You Have Time
With daycare comes more time for you, Mom. But that also means carving out more special time just for you and your little one. "Attention and affection are key to making the daycare transition as smooth as possible," says educator Gwen Dewar, Ph.D.
Children that are given extra affection handle stress better, according to an article published in ParentingScience.com.
Since the sense of touch is one of the first sensory reflexes children have, extra snuggles with mom during this time can really make a difference between a distressed child and one who is looking forward to new adventures with their peers.
11 A 'You' Day
Once your child has gotten his or her daycare routine down pat, your non-scheduled days at home will more than likely become a thing of the past.
Take the opportunity on day one or two of daycare to enjoy one last totally unstructured day at home. This is also ideal because if your little one needs you in the middle of the day, you will be free to go get him or her without worrying about excusing yourself from work.
Make it a real 'you day'–packed with cartoons, two hours in the park, manicures, a big breakfast, lunch with friends, whatever your desire, just make sure to make it count.
10 Change Is Not All Bad
Once your little one is around some other children his or her own age and under the supervision of someone else, it is only normal that there be some changes in his or her behavior.
That being said, expect some changes in your baby or toddler once they start daycare. And change is not necessarily a bad thing, it may just take some getting used to. Some parents notice that their little ones want to be with them every second while at home.
The National Institutes of Health says that while children are getting used to their new routine and schedule, they may be clingy, sad, or out of sorts, which is normal because kids’ stress hormones actually elevate during this transition period.
9 Talk Transitioning Kids
When you visit your child's daycare, you will more than likely see plenty of smiling faces and pictures on the wall. But for many children starting out at daycare for the first time, the smiles don't come immediately–there is a transition phase.
Talk to your child's daycare about what sort of things they do for children that are transitioning into their environment and what you and your baby can expect. If they do not do anything in particular, this is no cause for alarm, but perhaps you could mention some of the things you do at home and see if the center would be willing to incorporate his or her favorite show before naptime.
Every little bit helps.
8 Development Before Day 1
Be aware of your child's development stage before deciding to sign them up for daycare. If they are going through the "No" phase, it may not be the best time to send them to daycare.
If they are retreating from strangers and only finding comfort with mom, it may not be the best time to try out daycare yet either. For more information on your little one's developmental milestones talk to your child's pediatrician about what to expect.
Though it may feel there is no "golden" time to put your child into the care of others, there are certainly a few windows to avoid.
7 Teach Him Or Her To Share BEFORE
Once in an organized childcare setting, your kid will (probably) learn to negotiate with others rather quickly, after all, there are only so many toys to go around.
However, sharing is a developmental milestone that can take a long time to acquire. Starting early can really help. It can never hurt to get your child used to the idea of taking turns beforehand. If you only have one child, try asking your little one if mommy can have a turn. Playdates and time with children of around the same age, like family are also great options to help prepare your little one.
6 Spend Some Time
There's no doubt about it, even if you have been dreaming about getting some time to yourself, you will miss your child once they start daycare.
Take the time to get in lots of snuggles and cuddles, while you have the chance. Once they start daycare try to spend some time with him or her alone doing some of the things you two love to do. Think movie night or extra long bath time. Every moment is precious now that you are both on two separate schedules.
As the old saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. So really take this new time in your lives to flower your baby with love.
5 Be Open
Taking your kid to daycare never really seemed like an opportunity to meet new people, until you factor in the number of jittery parents huddled outside of the door on the first day back to class. Be open to meeting fellow parents through your daycare experience.
Mother and writer Tunde Wackman says that she met some of her best friends through her child's daycare, "You will have a whole new village to join. It may not be like socializing in your pre-child days, but your new tribe of fellow parents will give you exactly what you need—support and validation. After all, you will all be going through the—together."
4 Leave No Stone Unturned
When it comes to ensuring your little one is really getting the best care, make your presence known to caregivers at your little one's new daycare. For many parents knowing that their child's caretaker can put a parent to the face of a child really makes a difference–engaged parents receive more updates on their children's behavior or development.
When your children's caretakers know just how invested you are in your child's life, they will also make sure to be invested. Perhaps if your child needs a little extra time learning the alphabet, you making your presence known and expressing anything you know about your child could be the difference in him or her being passed over.
3 Go Over The Day To Day
Knowing what your little one will be doing each day can be really helpful in easing the transition into daycare for your baby. When researching daycares, go over the day to day instruction for your child's age group with the teachers so you know what kind of structure your little one will have–this can really simplify the letting go jitters.
Do your homework.
You know your baby will be well taken care of. There are many benefits to daycare, but it is up to you to recite those benefits like a mantra over this adjustment period. Eventually, those benefits will sink in and you will feel more comfortable.
2 It May Feel Impossible To Leave
The act of actually leaving your little one may feel like an impossible feat. But trust us, it's definitely harder on you than it is on him or her.
Try not to get so hung up on the idea of leaving and instead focus on the positive, he or she will get some much-needed interaction with others outside of the home and with others his or her own age.
There will be new exciting toys to play with, and interesting new learning opportunities and challenges that await your baby. The only thing standing in the way of that is you, Mom. So go do what you need to do and hurry back to get your baby.
1 You Will Be Ok
Greetings from the other side. Years later, and many days spent apart, I’m here to tell you it’s going to be okay. Your little one will grow and change and become his or her own person. It will be a pleasure to watch them blossom. Eventually, you will reflect on the daycare days with a grateful smile. Your baby will be cared for by qualified, loving daycare teachers and have ample opportunities to make you proud.
He or she will thrive in the company of other little humans and be the places he or she was always supposed to be.
References: Mother.ly, Science Of Mom, Romper, National Institutes of Health, Raising Children Network