Returning to work and putting your child into a child care centre is a big step not only for you but also your child.
Today, I thought I would share my tips to ease the first day nerves for both you and your child.
Before the day arrives I would suggest that you do the following:
Hide your feelings from your child
You may be experiencing a range of different emotions when you drop your child off and go back to work for the first time.
If you show them your emotions it is likely that they will feel the same way and pick up on your emotions.
Try to keep positive and only express the positive feelings of excitement to your child.
Encourage your child to be excited
Talk about all the fun things that your child will do at child care. Get excited when you go in and after your visits. If you are excited, they will pick up on it and get excited too. It may help to ease their anxieties and if they are excited, it will make it easier for you too.
Build trust with the centre staff
When choosing a centre, visit with your child and see how they react to the staff and the environment. This will start to build the trust with the staff for both you and the child.
Make a few visits to your preferred centre before your child starts so they are familiar with the faces, the children and the environment.
Transition with short days
In the weeks leading up to your return to work, set out a transition plan for your child. You may start with one hour where you stay in the room with them and then extend the period’s of time they spend there.
You could stay at the centre in the parents room while your child interacts and gets to know the staff and children or you could schedule some visits to drop them off for a couple of hours.
Each centre is different so check with them about transitioning your child into child care.
Have a plan for the first day drop off
Work out in your head or talk to the staff about the first day drop off. Your child may be ok but they may not want you to leave. Plan for different scenarios and work out a plan for each. For example, if they cry, do you stay and comfort them and leave when they are happy or do you leave while they are crying and the staff can comfort them. Work out what would work for you and what you are comfortable doing.
Contact from the centre during the day
You can always contact the centre during the day to see how your child is, or you can ask them to send you an email to check in. Whatever works best for you and the centre. This will reassure you that your child is fine, easing your nerves and making it easier to focus on your work.
When my son started I would get photos emailed from time to time and it made me feel comfortable that I have chosen the right centre.
If you haven’t yet chosen a child care centre here are some tips to get you started:
Even if you don’t know how much child care you will need for your child it is important to plan ahead and book a child care centre in advance. In some areas there are very long waiting lists to it is sensible to put your child’s name down as early as possible.
There are a variety of different options for the care of your child when you return to work. There is family daycare, long daycare, community daycare and preschools and kindergartens.
Each option provides varying hours of care and varied costs per day.
Planning ahead allows you to select the type of care that you feel most comfortable with and allows you to visit centres in your area and select based on your needs.
Determine the amount of Government assistance you will receive
The level of assistance you will receive from Centrelink varies depending on your personal financial situation. It pays to organise this early so you know what you are eligible for.
This will assist you in planning your return to work budget and determine how many days you want to return to work.
Talk to other mums
If you have questions, thoughts or concerns talk to other mums about their childcare choices. Work out what you want from a centre. If you know what you are looking for it will make it easier for you to choose a centre that you are comfortable with.
Getting advice from others is the best thing you can do to ease your nerves.
Just remember that it is transition for you, your partner and your child. Take one day at a time – there will be good days and bad and as all parents know, children go through phases.