A couple of weeks ago, as my maternity break began winding down, family and friends started reminding me that my new baby’s first day of day care was approaching. They asked me everything from “Are you going to be okay?” and “Are you happy with the daycare you chose?” and of course: “Are you going to work full-time, and send her EVERY day?”
The constant questions made me more nervous than ever before. Except for a few hours here and there, I’ve been attached to this little person for about 100 days. How could I drop her off with someone who doesn’t know that she likes to be patted instead of rocked, that she prefers acoustic guitar sounds over white noise, or that she likes to play peek-a-boo but only if you whisper?
Naturally, I started panicking and obsessing (reading baby blogs and mom message boards!) about how I was going to get through this. Here are some ideas I gathered for making week one go as smoothly as possible:
1.) Take baby steps – Test out your daycare routine by starting a week early, and drop your little one off only for an hour or two each day.
2.) A gift goes a long way – Take the daycare staff a small token of appreciation. I felt like my mini bundt cakes were a way of thanking them for taking special care of my daughter (and as a way of apologizing in advance for my daily meltdowns).
3.) Be ready to roll – Pack your child’s necessities (extra clothes, stuffed animals, medical records, etc.) a few days in advance or in the evenings and keep your bag by the front door. This makes your morning less overwhelming and eliminates any excuse for not taking her during the first week.
4.) Make a clean getaway – Once your baby is settled, force yourself to leave when she is calm or before it’s time for her next diaper change, feeding or nap. The mental image of her hanging out peacefully in a swing or in the daycare provider’s arms goes a long way.
5.) Keep yourself busy – Have a checklist of nearby errands you can run during the first week. Those two hours or so will go by much quicker if you let your mind focus on something other than wondering how your bundle of joy is doing without you.
One week and a whole box of tissues later, I can safely say I survived the first week. I had some rough moments where, as I walked to my car, I could feel my heart beating out of my chest, and my arms felt like spaghetti. In all honesty, there were a few times I sat in my car and worked on my laptop … just to be closer. But here we are at week three, and my sweet baby and I are becoming daycare pros. We are developing a routine and relationship with the daycare staff, and it gets a little easier every day.
Please feel free to share your first daycare experiences with me below. I’d love to learn your thoughts and tips for transitioning back to work.