You have picked out your daycare. Now the time has come for your child to start. From experience, it isn’t easy — for you or your little one.
I’ve made the first drop-off twice now. Many emotions run through you as you leave your child with people you barely know. For the most part, nerves take over.
You wonder how your child will react to when you leave him to start daycare with this strange person for an entire day. Will he cry all day? You wonder if your boss is going to think you are an emotional wreck, especially if you are returning to work that day for the first time in weeks, maybe months.
Daycare providers work with new parents all the time to help make it easier, for you and your child. Remember you aren’t the first parent to drop off a child off at daycare. But if you are still uncertain about this new part of your child’s life, here are some things that can help make the transition to easier for you and more comfortable for your child.
Prepare the night before you start daycare
Have all the paperwork completed and ready to turn in if you still have any outstanding. Gather everything your child needs to succeed in their new setting. Your daycare provider should provide a list of what its needs to take care of your child, such as diapers, wipes, extra changes of clothes, a blanket, breast milk or formula, etc. You can always ask if there is something to extra bring that helps ease the first day for the child.
Expect tears — yours and your child’s
Your child’s first day of daycare is a big moment for your child and you. Sometimes the only way a small child can show his emotions, desires and needs is to cry. It might not happen on the first day, but it will happen at some point when dropping your child off.
The best way to handle this might seem the cruelest: you just have to drop the child off and leave. Lingering to help soothe your child is going to make it worse when you do leave. Make sure you let your provider know that you are not trying to be mean but trying to make it easier for him or her.
However — don’t do this on the first day! Instead, let your child know he is going to be OK and give extra hugs and kisses so he knows everything will be fine.
Help your child take ownership
If your child is older, let him know him is going to be starting somewhere new. Build it up and let him know about the great friends he will make and the many thing he will learns. Let him explain his feelings about that first day to help him overcome any fears.
Also, help your child understand that daycare is something he can call her own. Let the child pick what clothes to wear on the first day, what blankets to bring, and what stuffed animals to help at nap time.
Calm your child with familiarity
As you drive or walk to the center to start daycare, point out landmarks and things familiar to your child. We started our oldest at a new daycare at about age 4, and his dropoffs were a lot better when my wife or I pointed out things that he could always recognize.
Remember: Children are resilient
If you are a new parent, you’ll quickly learn your child has an amazing ability to bounce back from whatever comes his way. You” sometimes think your child will never stop crying at drop-off but eventually he will get over it and have fun in his new environment. If drop-off becomes too big an issue for too long, talk to your provider for suggestions. Eventually, it won’t be a big deal and you are going to wonder why you were worried about it all in the first place.