The first time you drop your child off at day care can be a daunting experience. Not just for your child but for you, the parents, as well. Whether you’ve been counting down for this day or dreading it, when the moment comes it can be very emotional walking out of that room without your child for the first time. Out of all of our tips for how to get through it, just remember this one thing; it does get easier. We promise!
Until then, here are some tips for making the first day easier on you all:
There are a lot of things you can do in the lead up to the big day to prepare yourself and your child.
First of all, you need to feel confident in the day care that you have chosen. Before your child starts, make some visits to the centre. Take your child along so they can get familiar with the place and also make an unannounced visit, as you can tell a lot about a place when they aren’t expecting you. Take note of how clean the centre is. And we mean really clean, not just neat and tidy. A centre that has a professional childcare centre cleaning service will be cleaned and sanitised on a regular basis, meaning less sickness coming home with your child.
Help your child be prepared for their first day by talking to them about day care and what their new routine will be like. The more they know, the more comfortable they will be on the day. Share any information you know about the place, such as carers names or what toys might be waiting for them to play with. The most important part of the routine discussion is letting them know what time mummy or daddy will be back to pick them up. This might be after naptime, or when they’ve finished afternoon tea. It is good to try to put a timeframe on it so they know roughly when to expect you.
Be as organised as possible the night before the first day. Have an outfit chosen, their bag packed and if you are required to take snacks, lunch, bottles or nappies have those ready to go as well. Taking as much stress out of the morning routine as possible will make it easier on you all.
On the day
When it comes time for the first day, the most important thing is to make sure you allow yourselves plenty of time to get dressed, have breakfast and get ready to go. The last thing you want is to spend the morning shouting and rushing. It will get your day off on the wrong foot and will make your child feel uneasy. Allow some extra time for chatting and maybe a couple of extra cuddles as they might need that … and you might too!
Once at day care don’t rush the goodbye, but also don’t drag it out for too long. Wait a few minutes for your child to settle in and start to feel comfortable, perhaps even show them a toy or sit with them while they start to draw. But when it is time to leave, say goodbye, give them a kiss and then walk out. Lingering for too long will likely encourage your child to cling to you, and might start to highlight your own nerves to them.
Even more importantly, don’t sneak out of the door without saying goodbye. As tempting as it might be to avoid the tears and tantrums, it will only make things so much worse if you suddenly ‘disappear’ for an entire day without warning.
During the day, don’t be afraid to call the centre for an update on how your child is going. They understand the nerves a parent will feel until everyone is used to the new routine.
Finally, the first day is over and it is time to pick up your child. Make sure you turn up when you said you would. Being on time and not running late is vital to the level of security your child will feel at day care and will make a difference to how they react at future drop offs. If a child feels like they don’t really know when mummy or daddy will come back for them, they will feel insecure and worried.
Allow for some time at pick up to let your kid show you what they have been doing all day. They will be excited and proud to include you in their new, independent life.
Once you are at home, it’s a good idea to have some special bonding time with your child before you hit the rush of the dinner time routine.
As a final tip, just remember that all kids will have their good days and their bad days, so try not to beat yourself up on the low times. The bad days will be helped along by the solid routine that you’ve managed to put into place by following the above tips, as children feel comforted by routine.