In the first months with your baby, it is difficult to hand over your child to a friend or relative. You just want to hold on to her and protect her from everything.
There Is Always A First Time
It can be that you are returning to work after finishing maternity leave.
You could have your first night out, first time leaving your baby with a babysitter.
Whatever the reason, leaving your child isn’t always easy, especially for the first time.
Things You Can Do To Calm Your Soul
As hard as it may seem, the separation is a healthy and natural progress. Having a “relaxed” few hours with friends or with your spouse will have long-term great effects on both you and overall on your baby too.
Happy mummy, happy baby.
You can consciously prepare for the first time and the times after.
Here comes the first and the most important question.
How to choose who is gonna take care of your child, be it for a few hours or talking about long term childcare options?
Not everyone is that lucky to live close to parents or relatives or have friends available when needed. Here is when babysitters come to hand.
There might be many available options for babysitters but before choosing the one, do a lot of research and do a little more. The word of mouth for babysitters could work the best. Join Mommy’s groups from your area and ask around, the name that pops up the most can most probably work out the best.
When it comes to nurseries you might have a little more difficulty, the best nurseries get always filled fast and have long waiting lists. This is another pretty hard stage to deal with while you are busy preparing yourself emotionally to stay away from your precious baby for an extended time.
When Can You Start To Think About Daycare?
Ideally you could have control over this but in reality, it can depend on many factors that you can’t change. The maternity leave is limited.
The age of one year is a very common age for babies to start childcare, but this is also the age when the separation anxiety is the strongest.
You can start with a small setting, such as a childminder, or you can ask relatives or friends to care for them for a shorter time, rather than starting with a large nursery.
Typically around age two most babies begin nursery school, in a year they can prepare for school nursery which will help with the “big school” move at age four.
All these will help them to comfortably play with others, make friends and enjoy what each facility has to offer.
How to help your child throughout this process isn't the easiest either. It’s hard to predict how your child will behave when you take her to the nursery for the first time.
Some babies can enjoy it right from the first day, others can understandably find it difficult to stay away from their parents.
The heartbreak is both sided, but remind yourself it will not take long for your child to settle in and enjoy her time getting used to a new routine.
Good to keep in mind as well that nurseries are specialized in helping children to learn and start to socialize, play and share with others.
Nurseries are a fun place with plenty of toys that help improve and learn new skills and will help shape their personality.
You will wanna see all that is offered by a nursery, timetables, activities, see nap times and the food options that your child will be getting.
The best option is to choose a nursery with settling-in sessions. This will facilitate both you and your child, she can get to know the place relaxed, while mum and dad are at sight.
Learning as much as you can about your child's nursery will facilitate conversations about the end of each day, you will know what to ask about and what is your child telling you about.
When To Start Preparing Your Child For Childcare?
You can and you should start preparing your child well before her first day at the childcare.
Find opportunities where she can play with other kids, take her to different playgrounds and parks, give her space but stay at a safe distance.
You can even leave her alone in her room for 15 minutes, while you watch from outside, or sit in the living room.
This is especially important if your child is an only child, organize play dates and visit drop-in toddler groups to help your children learn how to cope with being around other kids.
Part of the childcare activities your child will be taking part in small tasks such as tidying up, spreading snacks around the kids. You can start at home by creating similar situations.
What Should Your Child Take Along On Her First Day?
Once you have made your decision about the right daycare, you should ask for specific information about uniforms or any specific clothes the child needs to take with them.
This could include a change of clothes and shoes, as most nurseries are asking for this. It possibly would also ask for a painting top with wipes, spare nappies, named water bottle and for any food specifications.
In most nurseries you will find available bags that the children can personalize with their name and hanging on their own peg, this will be another routine they will be learning.
This bag is usually very interesting for the kids, but you can make it more interesting by telling your kid that it can be only used when she starts the nursery. This will create excitement and could make them more interested in nursery, at least for the first day.
Another very important question to elaborate on is if your child should be already potty trained before starting nursery.
Usually the toddlers start to spend more time in the nursery around the age of two, which is also the potty training age.
You don’t need to worry though, nurseries are specialized in potty training, if you inform them about your child’s stage they will be helping with the proces.
Important you tell them the exact method you are using so nursery workers can use the exact same method, not confuse your child and lose the progress.
Tips to support your child on her first day
The first day, essentially the first week, is really important.
You might want to start slow and send your child only a few times a week but you should consider taking your child everyday for the first so it will be easier for him to settle into the new routine.
You can help a child the most by controlling your emotions as they are sensing that. Make sure you show to your child that the whole experience is a fun and happy thing, hide any anxiousness or sad feelings.
When your child becomes upset, keep a big smile on your face and do what you can to calm them down.
You can find various activities and engage your child in it to help distract her and start to engage with her surroundings.
You can start days ahead already to speak positively about nursery and make it sound like an exciting adventure, since language is as important as body language.
How long the coping process can take?
There is not an exact time that works for each child, some would smooth in the atmosphere in a blink of an eye, while others may be clingy and emotional for a longer period of time.
If your child takes time and needs more convincing, don’t give into her tears, stay firm and straight. That will help your child and you the most in the long run.
Avoid at all costs the short check ups on your child, it will distract them and get them out of the activities they got involved in.
Remember they are in good hands, that's why you have done your research.
Save your tears for after leaving the nursery, but always stay strong in front of your child.
The best and most you can do is make friends with the nursery’s key workers and ask them to give you updates on your child after you leave her.
Even if your child don’t seem to enjoy nursery at first, after a few sessions you can be sure she will start to enjoy the fun activities even if she sheds a few tears at the separation
In conclusion the best you can do to help your toddler enjoy nursery times, is that you are prepared for drop off and pick ups.
Always arrive on time to pick your child up, it is very upsetting for toddlers to be waiting for their parents to pick them up once the others might be gone already.
The drop offs you should try to make it as stress free as possible, make sure you prepare breakfast, clothing and every part of your routine ahead.
The feeling of calm will help both you and your child on this not easy but beautiful journey.
Remember to do your research and prepare yourself and your child for nursery as soon as you can. That way you can hardly go wrong.