Returning to work and sending your child to daycare can be a crazy emotional ride. Even when you’ve been back to work for a while and are switching care providers, it is filled with so much anxiety! We recently started a new daycare this last month and after scouting, vetting, and interviewing several places, the night before the girls started I was still filled with so much anxiety. Will they like their new environment? Will my children thrive there? Will they get enough attention? Will they make new friends? Will their teachers love them? Leaving your child with anyone can be heart wrenching, especially when it’s the first time! Since we just made this change, I thought I would share some tips on making this an easy transition for you and your child.
Before making our decision, Matt and I have done the following with each daycare we've chosen. We've been at four daycares, which is more than I would like, but with seasonal changes (our first did only the school year and took summer off), and with the move, we've been through it time and again and I think we've learned more each change. Below is what we've done to help choose and transition a daycare, but it may not work for everyone. It's just some suggestions to help the transitions.
- Matt and I checked out the daycares by ourselves first, and then later brought the girls with us to our top choices. I wanted the girls and their teachers to get to know each other a little bit before starting and without any distractions. Then we brought the girls during daycare hours to meet their classmates and observe and check out the class and its settings.
- If possible, see if you can take your children there for a half day a few days before starting, that way it’s not all brand new on their first full day. Having your children stay for a little bit of time, without you there with them, can help ease them into their new surroundings
- Front load, front load, front load. Children do so much better when they are introduced to something ahead of time and know what to expect. This strategy works great for Ellie- anytime we do something new that we worry about her reaction, we talk about what we’re doing, what will happen, and what to expect. For example, when we were having a baby we read lots of big sister books, practiced holding and being careful with babies using her dolls, explained that I would be holding the baby a lot and the baby will be sleeping in our room, etc. That way, it’s not too much of a shock to her when the event comes. For her new daycare, we talked about her new routine, what she’ll be doing in her class, etc. The first day had a bit of a rough start, but there weren’t any tears the rest of the week!
Here is a list of items I send with the girls to help make them feel comfortable and help them in a routine. Each daycare provider offers different things for your children, so your list may be different, mine has changed with each place and as they have grown.
-They’re own beddingMy girls have sensitive skin (especially little Emma!) so I do prefer for them to sleep on bedding washed with our soap since I know it doesn’t irritate them, but another benefit is that it will smell like home! It will be comforting for them to have a familiar scent in a new place. I drop off a new sheet and blanket every Monday and take it home to wash each Friday.
- Stuffed animal/doll/toy
If your child is attached to anything or prefers something like a paci, teether, lovie, etc. be sure to pack it! It will help them feel at home and will make nap time easier for them. Our new daycare has lots of toys and entertainment for the girls, but if Emma is especially fond of a teether, I’ll bring it in. Ellie has a small baby doll she keeps at school just for nap time too.
- Diapers / Wipes / Rash Cream
I've talked about this before, but we are a Huggies household. They fit the best for both of our girls and provide up to 12 hours of protection and keep baby's skin nice and dry. We also always buy our Huggies Snug & Dry in bulk, you save over $10 buying that way and the bulk box comes in three large packs that's easy to divvy up between home and daycare. There's also a Huggies Snug & Dry Ibotta offer starting today (3/9) for $7 off at Sam's club! We bring wipes and rash cream too to keep there. We buy wipes in bulk as well and drop off a box and large pack as needed. At our current daycare, we had to fill out a medication form for the diaper rash, but I want Emma to have what works best for her skin.
- Bottles / Cup / Food / Bibs
Every day I pack a lunch for both girls, but also keep rice cereal there for Emma. I make sure Emma has enough bottles of breastmilk each day and keep frozen milk there for an extra bottle, just in case. I also pack bibs at the start of each week and bring the used ones home each day. A bowl/spoon may be needed too for your baby's food.
- Change of clothes
Each girl has two changes of clothes that we keep at daycare. Two sets of tops, pants, undies for Ellie, and socks. I also keep a long sleeve jacket/shirt for each girl as well. I pack them in a large Ziplock with their names on each one.
Other tips are to label everything of your child's- it's easy to get mixed up with others and lost. If it's plastic, I write their names on it and for fabric, I just put their initials on the tags. Also, if possible, drop off the items that you'll be keeping there permanently or for the week before your first day. I also pack everything we need the night before.
Be sure to check out the Huggies Snug & Dry Ibotta offer starting today (3/9) for $7 off at Sam's club!
That's everything we pack each week for the girls! Their new daycare is amazing and I'm so happy for their new environment, it's exactly what the girls needed and we've really enjoyed it. It doesn't get easier to make changes, but knowing your child is being well attended too eases the mind. I like to think that I've packed them for anything and are ready for all the fun. What do you pack for your little ones? What do you do to help make it easier?