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I was very lucky to be able to stay home with both my girls each of their first full year. But as a work-from-home mom, I needed more time to focus on work and they could use more time to socialize with kids their own age. When they turned one, my husband and I felt it was time to transition each to daycare a 2 days week. You can read about all the other reasons we felt daycare was important but today I wanted to share some things I learned in this process now with 2 girls.
Sure some of these things might be more for us parents than the kids, but I’m sure it can’t hurt! Here are my daycare tips to transition your child to full or part time daycare:
- Practice daycare’s daily routine at home. Upon visiting and signing the papers, your daycare should supply you with a breakdown of the daily routine expected in the classroom. Take the days/weeks/months before starting daycare to mimic this routine in regards to sleeping and eating, when you’re home. It will help get their body more acquainted with the routine they’ll expect at daycare. Even though both my girls only went 2 days a week, we continued to repeat these routines at home on off days and the weekends to help the transition go more smoothly.
- Visit their classroom more than once. Both places Brielle attended offered an “orientation” day to allow Brielle and I to attend a play session for an hour or two so she could check out the place.
- Have time away from baby prior to starting daycare. Before Brielle started daycare, my friend Liz (HI LIZ!) came one day a week to watch her at home while I worked. This allowed Brielle to get used to someone else diapering, feeding and playing with her. Even if it’s not a full day of this routine, get dad involved or see if another family member or friend can help (or do a “test run”!)
- Label all their stuff. All the kids in the classroom are around the same age and therefore shop at the same clothing stores, purchase their bedding around the same time, love the same sippy cups and use the same pacifiers. It’s important to label your things and for this task we have always trusted Name Bubbles and their personalized labels. Lots of our items from Brielle’s early daycare days from September 2014 are still holding strong (and were mostly manually removed by me as I had to replace with Hailey’s name!). The ones seen here are their new style in purple!
- Supply extra clothes that aren’t favorites. Expect clothes to come home from daycare with lots of stains, some easier to get out than others. For that reason, I never send them to daycare in things I like (which basically means they wear the same things weekly!)
- Use bedding items from home. For both the daycares my daughters used, you had to supply your own sheets/blankets for their crib/cot. Instead of buying a new set just for school that they only learn to use the first day there, I brought in one from home and instead bought a new set for home. It’s just one more thing that feels familiar and like home to them from day one.
- And lastly, at dropoff, kiss and leave. Give them a kiss, a good hug, tell them you’ll be back later and leave. Pass them to one of the staff members who will give them extra cuddles while you’re gone and head out. Make sure to say goodbye and not just disappear! They’re gonna cry, but hanging around is not going to comfort them. It makes it worse. It’s hard to leave them, no matter what age.
What other daycare tips do you have for parents who are new to this daycare thing?