Let’s face it, mums and dads. Waving goodbye to our little ones on that first day of childcare is thrilling and gut-wrenching.
We’re so proud that our babies are growing up. And we know they are in good hands. But we also feel that mummy ache that might not go away until we get in the car, shed ALL the tears and drive away.
As we feel a whirlwind of emotions driving to work, what’s going through your little one’s mind. How are they feeling?
It’s hard to tell. Many kids are happy to be dropped off on that first day. They’re excited about the idea of being a “big kid”, the prospect of making new friends and the chance to explore independently.
Other kids, like my two, are the opposite. These things excited them, yes, but they also terrified them. And understandably so. It’s a big step into a new world.
So, to the mums with little ones starting childcare who aren’t overjoyed at the idea of leaving your side, here’s what our children are really trying to tell us at childcare drop off.
To Mummy, on my first day at big school
I packed my bag and I put on my hat and I kissed my toys goodbye. I am all ready for my first day! But, as we drive away from home, all those exciting feelings are going away. And I’m not sure I’m ready.
Mummy, this might take me some time.
I don’t know if I’m ready for the change in routine, the new faces, the different rules. I’m still learning how to share and how to use my words and I’m going to need to time adjust.
Mummy, I’m loving learning, but I’m also overwhelmed.
There’s so much to explore – new books, new games, new toys and so many new faces! There’s a lot of strange sights and loud noises and I go go go all day. Sometimes my brain and my body don’t have time to stop. By the end, I’m a little bit overwhelmed.
I might feel extra frustrated. I might be extra grumpy. And I will definitely need extra cuddles to help me settle down.
Mummy, I know you need to go, but I wish you could stay.
Just for a little longer, just until I get settled in this new world, on this new adventure. I know I have to do this on my own, but things are always better when you are with me. Going on this new adventure by myself is a little scary. And it makes me a little sad.
But although I will miss you, I also know you are coming back. And I am trying to be brave, I really am.
I will be okay in a couple of minutes.
I just need a little more time to adjust, to cry and to say goodbye in my own way.
Love, your baby.
What to remind our little ones (and ourselves) when starting childcare
My two eldest kids, the very same ones who stood at the gate crying, begging me to stay for one more minute, are now well past feeling like this. They are not at the gate anymore.
Now they are in big school, complaining about homework and requesting playdates with mates from school.
But, as I sit here rocking my newest addition, I know the time to select a childcare and wave goodbye for that first time will be here soon enough. But this time, at least I’ll have an idea of how she’s feeling. And hopefully know just the right things to say to make everything okay.
So, to my baby who will soon start childcare …
I know it will take time to adjust to this new routine.
And that’s okay. It’s going to take me time to adjust as well – to get used to not having you by my side every day. This is a big change for us both and it’s okay to feel sad and scared. I feel it too.
I know you’re loving learning, and tired and overwhelmed.
And that’s okay too. You’re learning new things and discovering new skills. I am so proud of you for venturing out, for sharing with others and for being so brave.
I wish I could stay too.
I really do. I wish I could watch you play and learn and laugh. I wish I could share story time with you, and eat our sandwiches together, and rub your back as you fall asleep at nap time. I wish I could there every single step of the way, But, as we go our separate ways, I also know you are in the best care possible.
I will be back in just a couple of hours.
Your big day will be over before you know it. I can’t wait to scoop you in my arms and hear all about your adventure.
And most importantly, I promise to give you all the extra cuddles you need as we both adjust to this change.
Starting off childcare with Starting Blocks
We mums can expect a lot of changes when our babies start childcare – increased independence, increased social confidence (and possible sass), increased interaction (and influence) from others not in our immediate family. We can expect new friendships, new skills, new trust bonds. And we can expect a lot of changes –
in behaviour, sleeping, even diet and appetite.
If you’re starting the childcare process, we cannot recommend the website StartingBlocks enough.
Starting Blocks, a government website, is your first step into early childhood education and care as it offers information on all the services in Australia. You can check it out in detail at their Choosing Childcare guide.
For parents navigating through the childcare process, this extra support is invaluable, especially their Find Childcare feature which gives parents an easy way to compare different childcare centres in their area and check their National Quality Standards (NQS) rating.
Before you choose childcare, check the rating at Starting Blocks just to make sure.
Knowing that you’ve picked the right childcare not only lifts a huge weight off your shoulders, but it can help make the transition process a bit smoother, especially for your little one.
After all, if mummy knows she’s made the right decision in childcare and can confidently say goodbye at the gate, then her child will have a much better chance of being able to do as well.
It might just take a little time, that’s all.