Summer vacation is over, some are returning their precious infants to their old daycare whilst others are easing their baby in day by day. Here are a few tips to help the transition to be as stress-free as possible for the entire family.
Intake- Most daycare's have an intake period where you taper the time spent staying with your child, helping them acclimate to their new surroundings.
TIP: Let the child have a look around, try not to interfere with where he goes and what he touches, allowing him space to test the waters and initiate independent activities. I know it’s tempting to get involved, to drum up interest towards a game/potential friend but stay put and let your child explore and return to you
Prepping the Caregiver- A must! Even if a child is returning to familiar surrounding things are forever changing. Fill her in on any development changes including motor and emotional change before or during the summer hols. Although most places have a one size fits all approach some will accommodate if you are adamant enough towards your needs.
TIP: Make sure she knows your child's likes and dislikes.Include information on daily routines and anything else you think she needs to know in order to provide your child with the best possible care (for example,how well he copes with changes to his daily routine, what techniques work best in soothing him, and so on).If you give her this information ahead of time(ideally in written form, so that she can refer to it later) you save her from having to figure out all this stuff on her own through trial and error.
Don’t overstay or run away- Make sure you arrive calm and not rushed yourselves, this will heighten your child's anxiety on that all-important first week. Ideally, you want to have the luxury of spending atleast 10 minutes helping them settle. Exiting any sooner may leave your child feeling as though the transition was too abrupt, but lingering too long may only serve to heighten anxiety.
TIP: Daycare's often have a mirror somewhere; stop, take a glance at yourself before you say your goodbyes. I have seen so many furrowed brows or parents that literally DON’T BREATHE from the panic of a possible goodbye meltdown. Your attempts to reassure them that they are in good hands will all be in vain if your body language and voice indicate that you're feeling ambivalent and anxious yourself. This goes for the pre-verbal babies that are equally tuned into the emotions of the important people in their lives. So stay positive and upbeat
Saying goodbye- Keep calm and smile even if your child is crying.
TIP: Validate your child's feelings by letting them know that you understand that it's tough to say goodbye (you'll miss them, too!), but that you'll be back to pick her up at the end of the day. Resist the temptation to sneak out the door the second your child looks the other way it will almost always create new trust issues and you will find yourself with an extra clingy infant and no private bathroom break for months to come!
Zzzzzz What happened with the sleep? - With any big change come many new anxieties, in most cases they get carried over to the land of nod.
TIP: Avoid stressing or reading too much into it for the first 3 weeks of a new daycare, stick with familiarity. Making changes to your child's routine to get him/her to sleep better while he's getting used to a new day-care arrangement will be too overwhelming and will only prolong the bedtime resistance or sporadic awakenings.
Wishing you all a great year ahead. Stay positive and remember; patience must be cultivated! Oh and breathe, it will move your mind away from frustrations, expectations and align you with reality.
"Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant"
–Robert Louis Stevenson