It’s an emotional time, the thought of someone else looking after your babies! Trust me, I absolutely get it. I thought I’d be fine! Even the second time around. But there were a few tears, from both parties!
When we first put Annabelle into daycare, I had absolutely no clue. The whole process was so daunting; finding a centre, knowing for sure if she was ready and if she would be okay there?
I get lots of questions from people about this and so I thought I’d put together a little post and share some of my experiences and tips for putting your little ones into care.
Find The Right Daycare
The stress of daycare for parents often begins well before your little ones walk through those doors. When you finally make the decision for them to start is most likely when you’re about to head back to work!
As you know, the kids feed off their parent emotions! So if you aren’t sure, chances are they are not going to be either! Finding the right daycare for you is crucial so that you feel comfortable and so do your little ones.
When I finally made the decision to head back to work, I didn’t have much to go on. I asked around on people’s suggestions and decided to go and look at a few.
To be completely honest I didn’t know what to expect? But the first centre I walked through I just had a good feeling about! It was run by a local family who had successfully built several centres locally, everyone spoke highly of it and the staff seemed lovely.
We have been there 5 years now and my girls still love it!! Our babysitter is actually one of our carers, she’s the best!
Before They Start
I think a huge part of starting daycare for the first time is making sure you are fully prepared. Make sure you speak to your child, no matter how little, about what is happening.
Talk about their new daycare, what it will be like, what will be there, like all the games and activities. Even take them for a little tour, walk through the rooms, show them theirs and stay for a little bit to get familiar.
Make the process fun like taking them to buy a new backpack for them to take, let them pick a soft toy or comfort item to take along if they want.
My experience is that the more prepared they are the better. Springing anything on my kids, unless a waterpark, doesn’t usually go well!
Depending on where you’ve chosen, each centre or family daycare will provide different things. I’m lucky, as my centre has a kitchen and provide all meals and snacks, all nappies, and we just need to send them with a change of clothes and a drink bottle (and I’ve forgotten that a million times, whoops) but some don’t provide anything!
So make sure you know what your child needs to bring and have it all ready to go the night before so there is no stress the morning of. A reminder in your phone for the evenings before daycare days so you have everything ready to go is a good way to not forget. I do this for Kinder now as I wasn’t used to it for daycare!
Speaking of being prepared. Get some labels! Trust me, you are going to lose things. I literally label all of their lunchboxes, drink bottles, hats, clothing and even shoes (kids always lose shoes etc).
I have the Stuck On You named lunch boxes, plus their small and large labels which seem to last well even when going through the dishwasher.
Have A Daycare Wardrobe
One thing I learned quickly is that you don’t send them in clothes you don’t want coming home covered in dirt and paint……
I have a drawer full of basic t-shirts, leggings, jumpers etc that are just for daycare days! Even raiding op-shops is worth it because trust me, it’s all going to be worn out before they grow out of them anyway!
Also, make sure you don’t send them in their good shoes. I have sent my girls in their Nike sneakers, only for them to ‘accidentally’ go home with another family.
It’s finally their first day – ekkkk!! It’s okay I promise.
I would give yourself enough time to make sure you can stay with them if they need. Whatever you do, don’t drop and run! I have done this in the past when I’ve been busy or late for work (confession) thinking if I just disappeared they wouldn’t notice, but I quickly realised that it wouldn’t be a nice feeling to be dropped at an unfamiliar place, upset and all of a sudden mum is gone? Not knowing if she’s coming back?! (Cue mum guilt).
Somedays my kids are easy as to drop off, in fact when they were younger they were much easier. As they became older they became more aware!
I always make sure I give them a cuddle, let them know where I’m going “Mummy is off to work” and let them know that I will be back, and when! Even if they are crying and one of the room carers needs to give them a cuddle and take them from me, I still make sure I let them know I will be back!
If you have older babes in the same daycare, it might be worth asking if the older sibling can stay. Annabelle often stays in Teddy’s room and they settle in together. Then she goes up to her room a little later once they’re both a bit more settled.
How Many Days/Length Of Days
So in the early days, I found my girls were fine to stay in long days. I worked 9-5 so they were in just before until just after with no issue. As they got older, however, I found that if they did a long day or two consecutive days in a row, they were tired and cranky at home for the rest of the week.
Fortunately for me, I had flexibility in my days to change and changed it up so we never had two days in a row and they were much better! If you are heading back to work or have the option to change up your days then I would recommend it if your little one seems irritable and tired after daycare days.
Obviously, this isn’t an option for some people, but merely a suggestion if it’s do-able.
When they did have days in a row, I tried to pick them up early and found this helped also.
I hope these tips helped and possibly reduce the stress and anxiety you might be having about putting your little ones into care. Just remember that they will be fine, and that cuddle they give you at pick up, all excited to see you, is one of the best cuddles there is.