While many parents would love nothing more than to stay home with their children when they’re young, this is often not an option for working families. Around 75% of young kids in the U.S. attend a preschool program, but if your child is still too little for preschool, you may want to explore the top notch day care options in your area.
Once you’ve chosen your daycare center, you’ll need to start preparing for a whole new schedule. This period will definitely require some adjustment, but the following tips can help make the transition much smoother for both you and your child.
1. Start your new routine now
Don’t wait until the night before you drop off your child at the daycare center to start thinking about your new routine. The entire family will require at least a few days to adjust to any changes in their sleep schedule or allowances they’ll need to make in their daily tasks.
Make sure to keep a consistent bedtime for both parents and little ones. This can make the actual first day a lot less stressful. After all, no one’s at their best when they’re sleep-deprived and overwhelmed.
2. Visit the daycare center at least once
For many children, being placed in an unfamiliar environment can be jarring or even traumatic. To ease their first day worries, visit the facility together at least once before they begin. That way, they’ll be much more at ease when they arrive for daycare and won’t feel stressed by their surroundings.
With you in tow, they’ll have the opportunity to explore but will still feel safe, thanks to your presence.
3. Send a piece of home
It might help your child to have something familiar to bring with them on their first day. A beloved toy or family photo often does the trick. Your child can place this memento in their cubby for safekeeping, and if they ever feel homesick, all they’ll have to do is grab it.
Some parents even send notes with their children on a daily basis (which can work great if you supply their snack every day!) to remind them they are loved and that you’ll see them soon. When the teacher or caretaker goes through your child’s bag, they will find the note and read it to your child.
4. Establish a goodbye routine
Some parents make matters worse by leaving when their child’s back is turned, so as not to provoke a scene. Unfortunately, this often leads to further upset and may result in feelings of betrayal. At the same time, an overly long goodbye won’t help. Drawing out an emotional farewell will often make it harder to separate.
It’s best if you can create and maintain a specific routine with your goodbyes. If your child is upset, reassure them with confidence that everything is going to be alright. Come into the room with them, get them settled, give them a hug and a kiss, and keep the goodbye short and sweet.
Crying is usually short-lived, but make sure to talk with the staff and have them contact you if they are truly concerned about your child’s emotional well-being after you leave. Before you know it, they’ll be so engrossed with all of the fun daycare activities that they won’t even realize it’s time for them to get picked up.
5. Have confidence in the staff
When you choose a specific day care for young children, you need to feel comfortable with the people looking after your child. Trusted child care professionals should be experienced, compassionate, and well-regarded in the community.
Although it may be difficult to allow someone else to care for your child while you’re at work, don’t feel anxious. As long as you’ve done your homework and chosen your daycare center well, your child will have a wonderful time and have a chance to bond with other children and adults in ways that will further their development.
Above all, the ‘golden rule’ when selecting a daycare is simple: you must feel 100% confident that the teachers and staff are the right fit for you and your child. Selecting a daycare center or preschool solely based on location, facilities and toys will be at best short lived.
It’s perfectly natural to feel those first day jitters. But as long as you and your family follow these five tips, you’ll be able to navigate this transition with relative ease.