My worst nightmare as a mother finally became a reality. No I didn’t miss an incredible sale at Baby Bunting, I was first in line. I had to drop him off my little one at his first day in childcare. Easier said than done. It was a direct re-enactment from the infamous titanic scene where Rose couldn’t spare a few more inches on the floating door, “I’ll never let go!” This was a huge contrast to my daughter’s first day. I thought there was going to be a waterfall of tears from both me and my daughter, but to my surprise I was standing at the classroom door trembling as my daughter sauntered in the room with the type of confidence that radiates from a Beyonce performance.
You’re probably thinking, “what’s the big deal? It’s just childcare” but I know that so many parents can relate to me on this one. I know parents that are going through their third or fourth first day of childcare and they are still incredibly nervous. Whether the first day at school be an easy one or a difficult one, the reality is that we all need time and support during such a pivotal time in our children’s lives. So, here are my top ten tips to help you and your little one adapt to a new routine.
I know this is going to sound clichéd, but preparation really goes a long way. I gave myself plenty of time to talk to my son about the new Centre, the fun activities he’d be partaking in, the cool facilities he was going to use and the awesome new friends he would make. It also gave him a chance to ask me some questions too.
I even went as far as explaining what my own new routine would be, where I would be and what I’d be doing in that time. Don’t ever underestimate the power of communication, especially when combined with positive reinforcement.
Pro-Tip: I highly recommend taking your little one on a tour of the Centre. That way they can become familiar with their new surroundings and get excited about their new beginnings.
2. Book a Tour
Which leads me to my next point – book a tour! If you’re like me, you want to know every single detail. Not just about the Centre, but who the Educators are and what the other kids are like. It helps. Believe me, it really helps.
As I said before, take your little one along with you. I took my son along with me and he took to his new Centre like a fish to water. By the time his first official day came around, and after a very comprehensive orientation, he was already reasonably comfortable in his new setting.
Pro-Tip: Have a list of questions prepared before you go. It will only give you further peace of mind and help you to relay that information to your little one.
3. Positive Behaviours and Attitudes
Attitude is everything. This applied to me just as much as it did to my little guy. It’s a new experience. It’s exciting, nerve-racking and stressful all at once. I really strived to set the tone for the overall experience by making sure that I was speaking of it positively, especially to my own self.
Pro-Tip: Take some time to sit down and list all the positives and benefits out of the experience. That’ll really help when it comes to communicating that across to your bub!
4. Communicate and Build Relationships
One of the best things I ever did was form a really formidable relationship with the educators at my kid’s Centre.
I always have questions and they always seem to come to mind long after the moment (you can totally relate, right?). From a parents’ perspective, knowing about what my child is enjoying and struggling with helps me to understand him even more when he’s at home.
Pro-Tip: Arrive 5 minutes early at drop off and/or pick up. That affords you some time to talk to the educator(s), build a relationship with them and communicate better between yourself, them and your little one.
5. Pack Your Child’s Bag
Simple? I think not! I probably packed my boy’s bag 10 times over on the first day. Now this is where things are going to differ depending on where you’re at. Fortunately for me, my Centre of choice provided absolutely everything I required.
One tip that they did give me was to pack a comforter for bub. Something along the lines of a toy, book, photo or blanket. I chose my boy’s iron man figurine which he carried around all day. It simply serves as a reminder of home; a source of comfort and security. This also gives a great deal of help to the educators, especially on the first couple of days.
Pro-Tip: It also doesn’t hurt to pack some extras just to help with the transition. Always pack a water bottle and most importantly, don’t forget a change of clothes!
I’ve personally found that developing a new routine around drop off and pick up has given me a great deal of assistance in making this entire experience run smoothly. It’s all about familiarity as much as it’s about structure. My son has built up so much self confidence in knowing where he’s off to, what he needs to do to get ready, and when I’m picking him up. We’ve communicated our routine so well to each other that it’s become second nature for him.
Your arrival on the first day is going to be an emotional one. Although you may have received all of the necessary logistical information during your orientation, nothing can properly prepare you for the emotional experience you may encounter. Be prepared for the worse and remember not to linger for too long, it will only be harder for your child.
Pro-Tip: Ease your child into long day slowly. We recommend starting with shorter days, for example dropping your child off at 9 am and picking them up at 3 pm, and slowly increasing the amount of time your child is left at care. This is because children can’t full grasp the concept of time so spending more than 7 hours at childcare could seem like an eternity.
I’m certain that you will struggle with this, just as much as I did. I think we can all collectively agree that it’s so hard to let go, especially those first few times. Establishing a consistent farewell routine is one of the best things I’ve ever done and I know my boy has developed an understanding of what it means. I highly recommend a display of affection; a kiss, a hug or special handshake.
Pro-Tip: Don’t linger. It’s easy to want to hang around especially if the waterworks start. Take my word for it, you’re not making the separation any easier by delaying your departure.
9. Pick Up
Finally, my favourite part of my day. One thing I always do is ensure that I have five minutes to spare. Arriving a few minutes early gives you time to chat to the educators and get to know about your little one’s day. Of course, you will have your own questions too!
Ongoing punctuality will really help your child get settled into a routine, making the transition into childcare considerably easier.
10. Positive Reflection
Making the journey home has become my favourite part of the day by far. It’s my time to reflect on his day and also give him the agency of telling me whether he is enjoying his experience or not. It’s very enriching and fulfilling for us both, as we see just how beneficial daycare is for him and it gives us a profound sense of appreciation and positivity around the whole experience.
Pro-Tip: Don’t be too overwhelming with questions on the ride home. Let your little one settle for a little or else you’ll get “nothing”. Let them reflect on the day and ask them more questions over dinner.
Thoughts from ToBeMe
Enroling your child in an early learning Centre is no easy task. We recommend you do your research, read the reviews, and take the opportunity to tour the Centre and ask any and all questions. At ToBeMe, we encourage families to bring their little ones when they attend a tour so they can observe how their child interacts with their environment. When a family decides to enrol with us, we have a comprehensive orientation process where the educators learn the eat, sleep, and pooping patterns of our new friend as well as any routines the families want us to adhere to at the Centre. During this 2 hour orientation, the child observes a strong sense of trust between their parents and educator which helps to foster a beautiful relationship between the child and their educator. On top of this, we ensure that our prices include everything from food to nappies, to bedding and sun smart bucket hats. Our aim is to make the transition just as smooth for the parents so we can help to give families back their precious time with their little ones.
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