“It feels like my guts are being ripped out.”
“I am so worried that my baby will cry nonstop.”
“What if my baby needs me and I am not there?”
“I don’t want my 2-year old to feel that I am abandoning her.”
These are only a few of the crippling thoughts that are crossing a young parent’s mind whose child will attend daycare this coming fall. Indeed, the first day of daycare can be stressful for parents. This gut-wrenching feeling is natural, and there is nothing to be ashamed of; you should know that thousands of other parents are right now in the same spot as you, and thousands before you were in your shoes.
The transition of a baby or toddler from homecare to daycare is a giant leap, and parents need all the help they can get to prepare their child and themselves for this drastic change and the separation anxiety it will bring.
Fortunately, the more you ready yourself for this change, the easier the transition will flow. So, this is how to prepare for the first day of daycare.
Do Your Research
Preparing for the first day of daycare begins with thorough research.
Start with researching daycares around you. Location is critical, and even if you have your heart set on a fantastic daycare that is inconveniently way out of your way, the daily routine and the logistics of driving your child to and from the care center will eventually wear you out. So make a list of the best daycare centers that are close to your home and start from there.
Gather all the information you can find on these daycare centers. Read reviews, ask for recommendations and download every information they provide on their website. Even though you may be tempted to skim through the details, do not. Make sure you know everything about the daycare’s policies, procedures, pick up and drop off times, holiday closures, and so on. Take a step further and inquire about their health protocols, which is crucial, especially now with COVID-19.
Once you have narrowed down your list to two or three daycares, make an appointment to visit them and meet the manager in person. While inspecting the premises, watch the children and the activities they are doing. Are they happy? Do they warm up to their teachers?
Go through the daily program with the manager and ask anything that you might think pertinent. How does the school handle emergencies? How do they resolve conflicts amongst children? What extracurricular activities are being offered? Remember, when it comes to your child, no question is unwarranted.
The first day of school preparation for parents begins long before the actual first day comes, and it begins with extensive research. Gather all the information to make sure that you make the right choice from the beginning.
The first day of childcare is stressful primarily because of the unknown.
You can take this factor out of the equation and help your children better prepare for what is coming by planning a visit to the daycare center before the school year ensues. Try to visit once before the daycare closes for the summer holidays so that the child has a point of reference when you talk about the exciting new beginning coming up in September.
Then, just a few days before the first day of daycare, visit the premises once more to keep everything fresh in your toddler’s mind. This will not only help your child prepare better but will also help your child’s teacher to know who they are expecting to welcome in their class on that first day.
Adjust Your Schedule In Advance
Now that your child will be attending daycare, she might need an earlier bedtime, meaning that you will have to change bath time and dinner time to accommodate for that.
This new normal means that you will have to adjust your morning and night routines. Start the new routines at least a week before the first day of daycare to help your child get used to these changes.
Create A Night-Before Checklist
Ask any parent you want, and they will have a horror story to share of forgetting to pack this or that for their child’s first day of child care.
If you want to ace the first day of school preparation for the parents’ test, you had better create a night-before checklist to make sure you have everything your child will need on this important day.
Start crafting the list a couple of days in advance and add to it as you go along. Ask yourself questions like, “what will I need to get ready before I go?” or “what will my child need with them during the day?”
Remember to include daily items in your list and also a favorite stuffed animal or toy that will comfort your child on this first day away from home.
Learn Everyone’s Names
Getting to know the workers who will be caring for your child is paramount and will also help your child transition. On the days before the first day of child care, you can talk with your children and mention their teachers’ names. You can say things like, “Mrs.Smith is very excited about having you in her class! She can’t wait to meet you! Mrs.John will be helping you with your lunch, and she is amazing!”
Have A Backup Plan
No matter how well you prepare for the first day of daycare, things may not go as planned. Your child may refuse to get out of the car or may not even wake up on time. They might throw a tantrum because they hate their clothes (because, you know, terrible two’s), or they might feel sickly. So, have a backup plan in place in case things go awry.
When parents ask me how to prepare for the first day of daycare, I always stress the importance of labels!
Parents, do yourselves a favor and label everything! It will help child care workers to keep track of your child and their belongings. If you don’t want that favorite blankie to get lost, or that jacket misplaced, and that lunch box in another child’s bag, you had better label everything. If you can, order ahead of time some custom-made waterproof labels that will get you through thick and thin.
Saying your first goodbyes are never easy. Leaving your child at the daycare center for the first time can be a gut-wrenching experience. Separation anxiety sets in and you naturally worry about their safety and well-being. However, it is a process, and just like so many other parents before you and many that will come after you, you too shall survive. Nevertheless, preparing for the first day of daycare will make the process flow a little easier.