Whether it be your first, third or fourth child, does it really ever get easier when you drop them off on their first day at daycare? My third baby starts daycare next week & between you & I, I’m not quite sure how I feel to be honest. I go from anxious to guilty, regret to sadness then relief & excitement for his next chapter - and also my own.
I feel this may possibly be one of the hardest milestones of parenthood – then add covid on top & you must drop them off at the gate, instead of becoming acquainted inside together. Insert heartbreak emoji here please. And, here come the tears.
So, as we walk into this new chapter of our family life together, I started thinking about what tips I would share with other mumma’s seeking guidance in the same position, and as a busy mum of three here are my faves that I absolutely wholeheartedly stand by:
Try to locate a daycare close to your home (not work) – reasoning is because if you have a sick day & your work is half an hour from home you don’t want to be driving baby there & back;
Always always calculate the time you need to be at work or elsewhere, then work backwards (& add some)!;
Get to know the daycare teachers, don’t be afraid to ask questions or call if your intuition tells you to do so & always speak up if something is bothering you;
Have a routine but be flexible as it can very easily change with kids. Provide daycare with this routine as a guide – but be prepared for it to fall out the window for a few weeks (totally normal);
Prepare as much as you can the night before – nappies, bottles, formula, school bag, change of clothes etc – if you don’t know what to pack, confirm with the daycare;
Comforter’s – if baby usually has one at home, have one for daycare & one for home (thank me later);
If you are breastfeeding & looking to transition to formula, I find that dropping the two daytime feeds first works a treat as the morning & evening feeds are usually the comfort feeds for both mother & baby;
Never start their first day on the same day as you return to work (firsthand rookie error). 1. Because, you know - mascara runs & 2. If there for any reason is a meltdown & baby needs a few shorter days, it is handy to be close by. Transition them with shorter days if you can for the first week (follow the centre’s advice here);
Give yourself permission to feel your emotions & cry. Let me say this again. IT IS OK TO FEEL YOUR EMOTIONS.
No sneaky action or lingering. When you are leaving, don’t sneak off & don't linger (here we enter the realm of creating ‘healthy boundaries’) & keep the same routine each day. A healthy boundary looks like this: Handover with a carer then say ‘Ok, big hug & kiss goodbye, have a great day & I will see you this afternoon, I love you’ then leave. Do the same every day. Note: I may be guilty of using the run tactics in the past “ok, watch as mummy does super cat speed mummy” (like Cat Boy on PJ Masks) totally awkward, but humour works too! Just do you – find what works for you both.
Finally, and my absolute favourite. Take advantage of your alone time after drop off, be with it whole heartedly & work on removing the mum guilt. You deserve a break too, and whether that looks like belting out 90’s pop or country music in the car #guilty (& hope to god the windows are tinted) or sitting down for a hot coffee before work - do what you need to for some self care.
I call this compartmentalising - being mindful of the transitions throughout the day, from baby to work, from work to baby. Personally, I use music & or breath work (really deep breathing) but find whatever works for you. Also, if you're looking for a great podcast throughout the transition: Ekhart Tolle Soul Sessions with Oprah ‘A New Earth’ works a real treat for practicing just being in the moment. It takes around 15 minutes to really get into the podcast but this is my favourite if I ever feel anxious or worried – this brings me back to where I need to be focused. It is based upon his book and broken up into ten one-hour sessions, perfect for the commute to work. Highly recommend!
In summary, know that at the end of each day your baby will be back in your arms – a cherished daily reunion to share between you, together. A new chapter, yes but also a new stage of growth & awesomeness.
1st pic: take 247 and finally a semi decent photo of William holding his 'my first day' timber tinkers board @timbertinkers https://www.timbertinkers.com/product-category/kids/educational/ Supporting Australian products.
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