The first day of daycare can be an emotional experience not only for your child, but for you too! It is normal and expected that you will feel sad or overwhelmed when you drop off your child for the first time at daycare. These emotions can even persist for a few weeks or even months. Learn how you can make the first day of daycare easier for you as a parent.
1. Use Your Childcare Center for Support
Prior to the first day, you’ll take a tour of the center at least once. Use some of this time to ask the teachers questions about how to make the first day of daycare easier for you and your child. Teachers welcome new families to the center each year, so they’ve experienced the first day many times.
Schedule an appointment with the center director or send an email to express your concerns about managing your emotions on the first day. He or she can offer suggestions, along with your child’s teachers, to make the first day less stressful.
2. Trust That Everything Will Be All Right
This can be challenging, but it’s important to trust your gut. You’ve met with the center staff, and you’ve done your research. There are many benefits to enrolling your child at an early education center. Think of it as an opportunity to provide a strong foundation for your child’s life and help him or her grow. You’re giving your child more, even if it means you may spend a little less time together during the day.
You know what’s best for your family. Trust you’ve made the right decision.
3. Cry If You Feel Like Crying
It’s okay to cry! For any parent, it’s common to feel guilty or nervous about leaving your child in someone else’s care. Express these emotions rather than bottling them up.
It is perfectly healthy to be vulnerable around your child. Don’t be hard on yourself if you shed a tear before you make it out the door. It lets him or her know these emotions are normal and healthy.
4. Check in as Often as You Need
Relationship building with your child’s teacher doesn’t have to end on the first day. Regular updates can help minimize anxiety, so don’t be afraid to check in. Your child’s teacher or center director may send email updates and photos throughout the day, but you can also reach out.
If your center has an open-door policy, stop by to see how things are progressing. Note that it may be best to peek in the room without your child seeing you. Too many separations can make it difficult for your child, but if you see him or her, it may ease your anxiety. The center director and teacher should encourage you to check in as often as you need to, for as long as you need to. A phone call at lunchtime is also a great way to check on your child’s day!
5. Reach out to Other Parents
You likely have friends who are going through the same emotions. It can be helpful just to know that someone feels the same way that you do. Lean on each other during this adjustment period. It may also be beneficial to get to know some of the other parents in your child’s classroom. They can offer advice and serve as a system of support.
Just like it may take time for your child to adjust to his or her new environment, it will take some time for you to adjust too. Both of you will become more comfortable as this becomes a regular part of your schedule. A little bit of ice cream at the end of the first day always makes things better too!