Your child's first session at daycare is a milestone for the both of you. Your kid's becoming more independent, will soon be following rules and schedules, and will learn to listen to another adult. For you, it might be the first time you leave them with another adult or return to work after maternity leave. Whatever the circumstances, those first few days can be emotional, so it's worth considering the things every mom should do before sending her kid to daycare.
When I dropped my son off for his first session at preschool I cried all the way home. I'm talking ugly crying, my friends. He had to be held by the teacher, while he punched his little fists against the window and cried for me, it was nothing short of completely heartbreaking. As a former teacher and a woman who ran her own home daycare, I finally understood how all the moms felt when they dropped their crying babies off and into my care.
From someone who has been on the other side of the door when moms had to walk away and leave their little ones, let me put your mind at rest: the majority of the time, children stop crying very quickly and adapt well to their new routines. However, before that very first day of daycare arrives, there are some things you may want to do to prepare both you and your child for the big change ahead.
Gather Your Resources
Depending on the rules of your daycare center, there are some resources you may need to purchase before your child's first day. I've learned, at the bare minimum, you're going to need a water bottle, snack or lunch container, tissues, bathroom supplies, name labels and stickers for your child's belongings and, appropriate clothing and footwear.
#ProTip: if your daycare allows it, send a lovey with your child, too. They can snuggle up with their favorite whatever during a nap, and be reminded of you.
Enjoy A Lazy Day With No Schedule
Once your child is immersed in a daycare routine your non-scheduled days at home will likely become a thing of the past. Take one last chance to enjoy a totally unstructured day at home, where you take your lead from your child. Cartoons, two hours in the park, and breakfast for dinner? Why not!
Start Teaching Your Child To Share
Once in an organized childcare setting, your kid will (probably) learn to negotiate with others rather quickly. However, sharing is a developmental milestone that can take a long time to acquire. It can't hurt to get your child used to the idea of taking turns beforehand. I suggest a lot of playdates and time spent modeling cooperative play.
Snuggle And Cuddle (For Hours)
There's no doubt about it, even if you have been dreaming about getting some time to yourself, you are going to miss your child once they start daycare. Take the time to get in lots of snuggles and cuddles, while you have the chance.
Serve Junk Food
Some daycare centers provide daily meals for their little patrons, and they work hard to offer nutritious and healthy options.
If you are required to provide a lunch, believe me when I say the food you send your child to daycare with will be judged. You're not expected to dream up Pinterest-worthy bento boxes each day but if you shove a bruised banana and a pre-packaged snack in a paper bag, it might become a topic of note among the staff. It is what it is, dear reader.
Take the opportunity to enjoy some less-than-healthy foods with your child, before you feel like you have to put in a little more effort.
Take A Nap Together
Once children start daycare they often drop their naps, so take this opportunity to grab what could be one of your last chances to sleep next to one another.
To help your child to be excited about their new routine, go shopping together and buy them some new clothes, a backpack to keep all their supplies, in and anything else they might need for the big day.
#ProTip: let your kid pick out what they want. Within reason, of course, but if they feel like they're making decisions about this new routine change, the routine itself won't seem so dramatic (or scary).
Start Easing Your Child Into A Routine
Starting daycare can be a tough transition for children, as it messes with a routine they've probably already familiarized themselves with. Help make it a smoother experience by waking up and leaving the house at the same time each day, for a week or so, before daycare actually starts.
Sending your child to daycare can be emotional and hard for both you and your child, but children are amazingly resilient and very quick to settle into new routines. Doing a little preparation beforehand can ensure that this milestone in your little one's life is a positive one.