Bringing your child to a day care center for the first time is an important step for your family and with any new transition comes a little bit of anxiety and “jitters” about what the future holds. Keep the following six tips in mind to help make your first morning of child care as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Before the First Day of Child Care:
1. Create a schedule and review it with your child.
Give your child an idea of what they’re going to experience on their first day of child care. Carefully go over all of the details, explaining each part of the day so that they’ll be fully prepared when the time comes.
2. Start adjusting your child’s sleep schedule.
The sooner you do this, the better it will be for everyone, especially your child. Set a bedtime that will give your child a good night’s sleep, and practice waking up at the time that will be the norm when the day care schedule officially kicks into gear.
3. Plan a visit to the child care center.
When you introduce your child to their new day care facility ahead of time, it will alleviate a lot of the anxiety associated with being in an unfamiliar environment. This will also allow him/her to explore their new surroundings while still retaining an important sense of security, as you’ll be right there with them to help them warm up to this new environment.
On the First Day of Child Care:
4. Don’t rush!
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not waking up in plenty of time to get everyone ready and out the door without having to rush. Allow yourself a nice cushion of time – even beyond what you’ve originally scheduled – to account for any unexpected delays that might occur, such as a missing shoe or misplaced car keys. In addition, be sure to wake your child early enough to where they can get adjusted to the flow of the morning without feeling like they’re being shuffled around in a hurried frenzy.
5. Hang out for a few minutes to help your child settle in.
Make sure that you leave the house in enough time to arrive early to the day care center, so that you can help your little one settle into their new environment for a few minutes before you leave. Be willing to walk around the room and talk with them about the things that stand out to them, such as colorful wall art or cool toys that they’ll be able to play with during the day. This will help your child build a positive expectation about what they’re going to experience on their first day.
6. Say a calm, quick, upbeat goodbye.
If you spend a long time saying a heart-wrenching farewell to your child, it’s only going to heighten the sensitivity of the moment, making it harder for each of you to part ways with each other. Instead, keep your goodbye short, sweet and upbeat. Even if you’re a nervous wreck on the inside (which is not uncommon for parents), do your best to keep a cool head, and don’t let your child see you sweat, so to speak. If you’re feeling a little rattled by the whole experience, you can always call the daycare during the day, and they will be happy to provide a status update on your child to help ease your mind.
The first morning of child care can definitely bring on a whirlwind of emotions for you and your child, but you’re going to be just fine! Keeping the above tips in mind will help make your toddler’s first day of child care a positive experience, and the first of many more to come.