The separation anxiety afflicting a parent when it’s time to drop their toddler off at day care for the first time is real and heart wrenching. Especially considering that your toddler has left the cuddly infant stage and now has a definite set of opinions. First opinion being he doesn’t want to go to day care, no how, no way.
In your mind, you are sure that your child will be fine once you close that door. In a few short weeks this will all be routine and your toddler will look forward to playing with the kids. Until then, here are a few brief tips to ease the process along.
Tip 1: Pack the diaper bag the night before the big day.
You are going to be stressing over whether your toddler has all the stuff he needs to get through his first frightening day. To relieve your stress and his, pack his favorite stuffed critter, his blue bankie and the go-to teething ring the night before so you won’t spend the day worrying about it and he can spend the day with his necessities.
Tip 2: Interview your child’s teacher and the daycare administration before enrolling.
When my oldest son started preschool we only had one option within reasonable driving distance of our house (and I was WAY too pregnant with my third child to consider anything that didn’t qualify as reasonable!). Because it was the only option, and because it had come highly recommended by friends, I didn’t interview the staff as well as I should have.
Big mistake. Take the time to get to know your child’s teachers before they walk through those doors. Just because someone else recommends them highly, does not mean that they have the same standards as you do.
Tip 3: If your child’s new daycare is an institution, always opt for the one with the consistently fine reputation.
You may be new in town and find that there is a wide selection of day care enters to choose from. Under closer inspection, however, you find that just a couple of them have a reputation of being consistently outstanding. Most of them will be iffy.
Tip 4: Spend as much time as you can with your child the night before the first daycare event and the night after.
In all probability, your child’s first day at day care coincides with your first day back to work. You will both be total wrecks at the end of the day. You will both be stressed and irritable. Make time to be with each other playing and enjoying your time together. Now is not a good night to wash a load of laundry or mop the kitchen floor. Order in Chinese, turn on the Wii and cavort. You both deserve the R and R.
Thad has been working with kids to make a better life for decades and now is bring his vision nationwide.