Your child’s first day at daycare or preschool is a big milestone that can be emotionally overwhelming, not just for your child, but for yourself as well. It’s a happy occasion, yes, but there are also a lot of feelings that get thrown in the mix, which can often leave parents reeling in their cars after dropping their kids off.
Even if you think you are prepared to let your child go, the first day may just prove you wrong. To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed, be it from the morning preparations or the post-drop-off emotions, here are several ways you can prepare yourself for your baby’s first day:
1. Acknowledge your feelings
Every parent goes through a myriad of emotions when their child’s first day is drawing near, more so on the actual day when they drop their little one off at daycare or preschool. It’s normal to feel nervous, happy, guilty, and maybe even relieved, sometimes all at once. It’s normal to feel completely overwhelmed at any point. So, acknowledge your feelings early on and don’t invalidate them. It is a part of being a parent, and sometimes, enduring these strong emotions is necessary to let yourself grow as your child’s parent.
2. Seek support
While it’s perfectly normal to be emotional about your child’s first day, it’s not healthy to keep it to yourself when you are already overwhelmed. Seek support from your partner, who may also be feeling every emotion in the book, and offer your support in return. Find comfort in your friends, your parents, or even your older children. This way, it won’t be as easy to let yourself get lost in your emotions and keep you on edge for the entire day, or maybe even the whole week.
3. Establish a goodbye routine
A goodbye routine may be more for you than for your child, but it’s beneficial for everyone in the end. Before you start dropping your child off at daycare or school, establish a goodbye routine, perhaps a hug or a kiss, that can offer the both of you comfort. If your child is old enough to know that you are leaving, a goodbye routine can also help settle their nerves on their first day away from you and everything that’s familiar to them.
Furthermore, make it a point to say goodbye especially in the first few days. If your child has a fit every time you have to separate, it can be tempting to sneak off when they are not looking and let the teacher deal with the succeeding reaction. However, this can make your child less trusting of you and can increase their distress, which can make it a lot more difficult to leave them in the childcare facility.
4. Trust your child’s preparedness
You may have been working for weeks to prepare your child for daycare or school, but when the first day draws near, you may be worried that your efforts are futile. As a result, you add an unnecessary amount of stress on your already burdened shoulders overthinking every little thing that your child seems unprepared for.
What if they can’t get to the toilet on time? What if they don’t get along with the other kids? What if they can’t wash their hands properly without your guidance? While it is a great advantage to teach your child independence as much as possible, they are still going to be lacking in some skills, and that is perfectly okay. It’s a daycare, after all, no one expects your child to be able to do everything on their own.
5. Plan for what you’re going to do after drop-off
If you have a job, it can be easier to distract yourself with work and not worry too much about how your child is doing. But if you don’t have a job to go to, find other things to do after drop-off. You could go home and catch up on your favorite TV show, but the absence of your child may get a little overwhelming.
If you think this will be the case for you at home, spend your day outside instead. Have coffee with a friend. Go to the park. See a movie. Run some errands. Anything you can do to stop yourself from marinating in your emotions and getting yourself wound up.
First days can be stressful for kids, but they can be just as overwhelming for parents. If your child is going to daycare or school for the very first time, these tips can help you prepare yourself so that you can be strong for your child on their first day.