10 Tips to Ease your Child into Childcare
Starting childcare can be as much about you as a parent as it is about your child; it’s a big step to hand your child over into unknown hands.
It’s not like leaving your child with your mum or a sister while you go to a movie; this is completely new territory; a scary territory.
Yet we all do it because we have to and that’s perfectly fine. What’s also perfectly fine is the standard of childcare available these days, not to mention the rigorous training and screening childcare workers go through before they can even qualify to act as your child’s daytime guardian.
So, assuming you’ve already been through the process of finding the best local childcare centre for your toddler, you’re now faced with the tough transition. And yes, it will be tough, if you let it be, how can you ease your child to childcare?
Transition strategies in Childcare
Here are 10 tips to keep your little ones (and you) smiling. Remember, while your child may not yet be a full functional communicator, they will still react to your cues.
One: Don’t be offended
Mums are mums. And if mums are honest, there can be a twinge of disappointment if our pride and joy is perfectly happy with someone else. Mums are more physically, emotionally and biologically attached to a child than anyone else – and that includes dads. There can be a few “Hmmmph" moments when we introduce carers into a child’s life.
It’s normal, it’s natural, but you have to get past that. Yes, you want your child to see you as the rock in their life and you can feel a little rejected if they don’t cry when you leave. But a confident child is way better than a clingy one long term.
Two: Pay your new centre a visit
Visit with your child before day-care officially starts. Let them meet all the teachers and carers and spend time exploring with you around. Do it a few times and take advantage of any phased start your childcare centre offers.
Three: Do a few out-of-home test runs
If your child has only been babysat at home, try a few short, sharp offsite trips with family and friends, but not you. The more comfortable your child becomes with people you trust, the more they will trust this new childcare world.
Four: Market childcare in the nicest way
Talk about it with your child. Show them anything you can find online about happy kids playing in centres and why it’s so much fun.
Five: Baby steps to a full program of care
Once the phasing in process is out of the way, try to start with just a few days a week of actual care. Some kids adapt very quickly; others will take time before you can build it up to a full week or whatever you have planned.
Six: Be super open about any diet restrictions
If your child has allergies or can’t eat certain foods for medical reasons, spell it out even to the point of annoyance. Childcare centres are busy places and mistakes can be made if it hasn’t been well and truly drummed into them. Most will understand, so don’t be apologetic – your child’s health is at stake.
Seven: Make sure they have comfort cloths or toys
Whether it’s a beloved teddy or a blanket, make sure they have familiar things from home with them. This tends to make a child feel at ease in a new environment.
Eight: Plan for a few protracted drop-offs
The first few childcare days you’re probably going to say “Love you, bye,” about 50 times before you actually leave. So make sure you allow time for that.
Nine: Avoid the temptation to pop past
A sneaky look through the windows might reassure you, but it can undo all the groundwork if your child spots you. By all means, phone for a while if you’re anxious.
Ten: Be strong
Remember, if you cry, they’ll cry, so try to hold it in until you’re back at the car. Yes, it’s a big thing, but it’s also a great thing for your child’s development and your sanity as a parent.