Most parents approach the start of child care with an understandable degree of trepidation.
That’s perfectly normal but there are some things you can do when getting your child ready for child care that will help things go more smoothly.
Any professional and well-run child care centre or personal provider of such services will have lots of helpful tips.
It’s worth asking for those as part of your initial evaluation of providers.
Communicate in advance about your child
Most parents know their children far better than any other person will ever be able to.
As part of that learning process, you’ll have discovered a lot about your child and some of that will need to be communicated to the child care providers some time in advance of the day-1 start. Examples might include your child’s:
- eating preferences and dislikes;
- behavioural characteristics – both positive and negative;
- their sociability;
- any medical requirements including food allergies;
- what makes them angry, happy or distressed;
The more the child care providers know in advance, the better they can prepare.
Brief your child
Explain to your child what’s happening.
Speak about this only in very positive and exciting terms, so it’s something they’ll be looking forward to rather than dreading.
Remember also that kids can be very sensitive and pick up on the tiniest emotional or body language clues. So, if you have doubts and reservations, make sure you’ve fully resolved them and are 100% happy with the proposal before discussing it with your children.
Try out the location
If it’s humanly possible, try to go with your child and stay with them the first 2-3 times they visit the centre by way of ‘advance familiarity’ shorter sessions. Most child care services providers will be only too happy to accommodate you in this respect.
This will mean the surroundings and personnel are familiar on day-1.
Plan your days in advance
Eventually, you’ll slip into auto-pilot when preparing to drop your child off at a day care centre or similar but to start with, you’ll need to be systematic and plan things carefully the night before.
Changes of clothes, any special dietary products, medications – there is a long list of things you may need to drop off with your child each day. Your services provider should be able to offer useful advice and perhaps a checklist to help you prepare.
Remember, particularly in the early days, your child won’t want to see you panicking and stressed immediately before leaving home. If you are, there’s a chance they will be too.
If you have been able to get in some familiarity visits, this should not be a trauma for you or your child. Even if you have though, the first time you leave for extended periods and put your precious child in someone else’s hands can be an emotional moment for many parents.
If possible, try not to display sadness or tears, however natural that may be. If your child sees you seemingly upset and emotional then they’re very likely to be so too.
So, try to be proud, brave and keep a very happy face on. Your child should love the experience and it’s an important part of their long road towards growing up!