This information is sponsored by our partner at Little Sunshine Playhouse & Preschool. Be sure to check out the Facebook LIVE video we did while touring their University City facility!
Most parents would agree that it’s never easy to leave your child in the care of someone else. The discussion we have is mainly on the general idea of making the decision of who will watch your loved ones and why, but we skip the important part of the actual event of that first day away. I learned so much by just simply experiencing the act of going back to work and sending my 11 week old to daycare and wanted to pass some things along to you that I wish I had known along with some great transitional information from Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool.
Don’t Rip Off the Band-Aid
Since leaving your baby for a full first day of care when heading back to work seems overwhelming, it’s worth checking with your caregiver and employer for a plan to ease in. The first week I went back to work, I did only half days at work and daycare to make the transition easier. After the first week, I knew what to expect and what the hurdles were. I was much more prepared to jump back in full time.
Little Sunshine offers an exploratory day to interested families. It is a 2-hour visit scheduled during the busiest time of day so that families can see what the daily schedule may entail. This also allows little ones to meet their peers, cutting down on intimidation and making the first day a little less scary. More on exploratory days can be found here!
Talk About It!
The most comforting thing I did before returning to work with a newborn was talk to lots of other moms around me about that transition. It was a great reminder that I wasn’t in this alone and that my baby wasn’t the first baby on earth to go to daycare while their parents had to work. It’s also very helpful to talk with your program director about setting expectations so everyone is on the same page. Before children are offered enrollment, Little Sunshine spends a lot of time with families to openly discuss expectations, goals and commitments to make sure that each puzzle piece fits before the first day.
Bring Everything Ahead of Time
Plan to stop by your daycare or preschool a week or so before your actual start time to drop all of your supplies off and review feeding/sleep schedules. With the stress of a first day, it is too easy to forget something important, so be sure to get it out of the way early. You can also set aside time to ask any last minute questions and meet the other babies or kids.
Be prepared to make your goodbyes very short and sweet. The longer you drag it out, the harder it will be on you and your munchkin. Stay confident with lots of smiles and head out as soon as everything is situated. Remember that your caregivers are more than qualified to deal with separation anxiety! More often than not, if your child is upset, they will recover within a minute or two.
I think the Red Carpet Service offered at Little Sunshine’s Preschool is the most incredible way to curb (pun intended) separation anxiety during drop off. All you have to do is pull up to the front of the building and a caregiver will meet you at the car to take your little one inside. It keeps the process of leaving short and establishes a routine for kiddos who will be expecting to see a familiar face when they arrive. More on Red Carpet Service can be found here!
Pump It Up!
If your child is older and understands that they are going to a new school, you can begin to prepare them at home. Talk about the school and their teachers and show them photos of the classroom and things that they will be doing. This gives them something to look forward to and can ease the stress of the first day jitters.
Prep Morning Routine
Start your new morning routine a week ahead of time so that you get used to the timing and can work out any kinks. Everything always takes me longer than I think and I end up being late when I was more than prepared to be early. Pack bags, get dressed and try the whole routine so that it doesn’t add to the newness or the stress of the first day.
It’s not a good idea to introduce bottles to your breastfed baby the week they begin daycare. Many babies need lots of practice and time to adjust to bottle feeding. If you’re still having difficulty after a few weeks of bottles, be sure to communicate with your daycare and come up with a plan to work on the transition. It took two full weeks of extra attention at daycare for my son to finally take a bottle. Those weeks were really hard because he wasn’t eating a lot, but your caregiver will work with you to get the bottles going as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to talk about it!
Always remember you are not alone and you are making the best decision for your family!