I've had a lot of experience consoling nervous moms, crying as they left their child at daycare for the first time. I was a private nanny for a number of years, worked in organized daycare setting, and also ran my own home daycare after I had my son. However, I didn't realize until last summer, when I left my own some in someone else's care, how truly difficult it is to walk away. So, when the time comes, there are some things you should totally do the first time you leave your baby at daycare.
Of course, there are also some things your daycare provider should be doing, too. When I cared for a new child in my daycare, I was sure to send photos and text messages during those first few difficult days. I knew keeping the parents up-to-date on their child's progress would help put their minds at ease. Because, well, any experienced childcare expert will know this is hard step for most parents, and that you're bound to be feeling a range of conflicting emotions. You may be both nervous at how your child will react to a new person, environment and routine, and elated at the prospect of some baby-free time to yourself. You might also have opposing views about returning to work, too. Maybe you're excited about getting back to your career. Then again, maybe you're apprehensive about balancing motherhood and work responsibilities, simultaneously and with your sanity still intact.
In other words, leaving your kid at daycare gives you the "opportunity" to experience a wide range of emotions that are sure to make you a crying, exhausted, uneasy mess. Still, and even though taking your child to daycare can be emotional, it's usually a very positive situation for everyone involved. So, once you leave your little one behind, be sure to do the following things:
Have A Cry
If you don't dissolve into messy snotty tears the moment you get into your car, then you're a better woman than I was. I cried the entire walk home the very first time I left my son in daycare. Then, when I got home, I called my own mom and cried for almost the entire time he was gone. I was drowning in all the feels you guys.
I have seen moms crying in the parking lot, peering through the daycare window, and losing it in the daycare bathroom. So seriously, just let it out. We all do it.
Don't Go To Work
If it is possible at all, try to leave at least one day free before you have to go back to work. There is so much to organize between your baby's first day at daycare and your first day back at work. Just one day to yourself to get back into the groove will make the transition so much easier. Trust me.
Have A Hot Coffee
When was the last time you actually got to enjoy a hot drink before it went cold? Looking after a small person is demanding, so the chance to actually sit back and enjoy a hot beverage is a rare luxury. You've more than earned the right to relax.
Have An Uninterrupted Conversation
Whether it is with a friend or just the guy at the deli, actually being able to finish a conversation (or sometimes even a sentence) is the stuff of parental dreams. The constant baby-interruptions that stalled my daily conversation flow made me feel like I just wasn't smart anymore.
So, the opportunity to speak your mind uninterrupted and feel your IQ grow is, well, the best.
Use The Bathroom By Yourself
Pre-baby me never would have considered going to the bathroom without an audience to be a luxury, but here I am.
Not only can you enjoy a solo-pee while your kid is in daycare, you can actually have a long, hot, awesome shower without being rushed. That's the dream, my friends. That's the dream.
Take Some Time To Focus On You, And Only You
Everyone needs self-care time. Absolutely everyone.
If you don't take time to refresh, you will probably burn out. Self-care doesn't need to be meditating in a cave or advanced yoga poses (unless that's your bag), either. My self-care routine depends on the weather, but often includes activities like going swimming, taking a long walk, shopping, meeting a friend for coffee, having a massage, or just sleeping in while my partner takes our son to the park.
Give Yourself Permission To Worry...
You are bound to worry a little the first time you leave your child, so don't be too hard on yourself when you realize you've been checking your phone every other minute for the last two hours. Don't be afraid to check in with your daycare provider; he or she will be used to calming parents fears and will probably set your mind at ease.
If you have done the necessary checks* beforehand, rest assured that your baby is in safe hands and will have a great first day.
*Wondering about those 'necessary checks'? Try to choose a provider who has been recommended by a previous parent, conduct a thorough interview, ask to see CPR/first aid certificates, ask to see a background check, inspect the home or center for any safety hazards, call and speak to current parents of the center, check references fully, be a snoop on social media pages and then trust them to do their job.
Take a deep breath, and relax. You did it. You're nearly through the first day of daycare. There is nothing better in life than the look on your baby's face when you return to collect them after a day apart. It not only makes you feel loved, but you're reminded of the unbreakable bond you and your baby share.