Daycare centers offer essential services for many families with working parents. While they are often looked to as a last resort, they remain viable options for people who do not have access to any other trustworthy, quality care for their children. We would all love to have an old fashioned “bubbe” to help take care of the kids while we work during the day, but that’s simply not possible.
However, it’s sort of known that dropping off your kid at the daycare can be a torturous process. It’s painful for the parent who would prefer to spend more time with their child, and it can be unnerving for a kid who is used to being swaddled by familiar family members. If you’ve just decided to begin taking your child to the daycare, but are having trouble with the process of dropping off, then the following tips could be of help.
1. Bring a Comfy Keepsake
When your child has trouble leaving you and being left in a new environment, they are incredibly attached to the sense of comfort and familiarity of being with you. To make it easier clothing items to bring with them the night before. This will help them feel a lot better about leaving you, and they will have a keepsake they can cuddle with throughout the day to feel secure until they see you later in the day.
2. Start a Ritual
Having your child choose something to bring with them to the daycare center the night before is a way of setting up a familiar and comforting ritual that will get it easier for both them – and to drop-off your child at the daycare center, you can let them choose a blanket, toy, or even you – to leave you the following morning. Starting infant and toddler daycare is difficult, but getting a process going can be tremendously helpful. For example, another ritual you can implement is finding a fun and caring way to say goodbye to each other every morning; the repetitive gesture will get your child to understand that this is a normal thing to do, and they will be less likely to cry or throw a tantrum when you leave. It can even be a fun thing you could do together that they end up looking forward to. Maybe a special handshake, or singing a little song before you go off to work and leave them at the center.
3. Ease Them Into It
If you have the capacity to do so, it might be helpful for you both to start daycare on a part-time schedule. This gets your toddler a bit used to leaving you for stretches of time, without it feeling terribly scary. It would do the same for you and make the process less burdensome. Perhaps you can start with half days, or one or two full days in the week before getting onto a regular schedule.
4. Talk Through It
Unless your child is still an infant, it’s always helpful to talk with them and let them know what is going on. It will also be helpful for you to sound out to give voice to your feelings and let them know how much you will miss them. Even if your child is still extremely young, telling them that they will start daycare where they can meet other kids their age, have lunch, naptime, and then see you later in the day is extremely calming. After a little while, they will really digest what you are saying, and hearing your soothing voice will calm them considerably.
5. Have a Checklist
To help ease you into the process, it is a good idea to have a checklist going to minimize stress and keep you mindful of the things you need to bring for your child. Perhaps a snack, an extra blanket, diapers and bibs, pacifiers, a toy to keep them occupied – and even journal the sentiments that are nagging you so that you have an outlet. Also, make sure to include on that checklist a goodbye ritual with your child. This will be a calming routine for both you and your child, and will keep your mornings less hectic.
6. It’s Ok to Cry
Regardless of how hard you try to prepare, the first day or so will be tough for you both, and it’s ok to cry. Your child will definitely have a few tears, and you should take the time to comfort and soothe them before leaving them at the center. It’s also fine for you to acknowledge that this is a difficult milestone for you as a parent, and being completely stoic may not be possible. Just remember that it will get easier.
While taking your child to daycare is a difficult decision, it’s also the harbinger of an important milestone in life. Your child will get used to different social situations, and they will become stronger for it. In a way, helping them to become more flexible and adaptable by trying a new experience, even if it is difficult, will be an important mountain for you both to climb.