As I drove into work on my first day back after maternity leave, I was thinking about what was going on at home. My husband Scott was getting Eleanor ready for her first day at daycare. I was worried about the drop-off. Would she cry? Would she be scared? Would I have to come home from work?
I received a text message from Scott a while later: a sad face. Oh no. This can’t be good. I texted him back, “Is everything ok?” I was surprised at his response. “She didn’t even care that I left.”
Ouch. I wasn’t sure which news would have upset me more: Eleanor crying and unhappy to see him leave, or not caring that she was just dropped her off at a strange house with strange people. Was it so wrong to ask for a few tears?
In reality, I am very happy that Eleanor adjusted to daycare so well. She has little friends to play with, an overwhelming amount of new toys to explore and a break from Mom and Dad.
Daycare can be quite an adjustment. Here are a few tips to manage that separation anxiety (from your child and you):
1. Don’t drag out the goodbyes. Make them quick and to-the-point. Avoid lengthy hugs and long “Mommy will see you soon” speeches. You’re just asking for tears.
2. Check in with your daycare provider through the day, but not too often. A quick text or email should suffice. You do not require a play-by-play of every minute.
3. Share your feelings with your partner—not your child. Feel free to tell your partner that you miss your child throughout the day, but avoid repeating this over and over to your little one. It may trigger some anxiety.
4. Send your kiddo to daycare with a transitional object from home if they are getting upset or fussy. A blanket, favourite stuffed animal or much-loved toy can help them adjust to their new environment.
I couldn’t be happier with the way Eleanor is transitioning to daycare. She really seems to enjoy herself. She brings her blanket with her everyday and that seems to be a big help.
My way of coping? Gushing to co-workers about my perfect kid (sorry co-workers) and updating my computer screen with a different Eleanor photo when I get into work. That way, I still get to see her smiling face all day!
About the Author:
Amy Bielby is managing editor at ParentsCanada magazine, and Editor of Expecting and Best Wishes (both ParentsCanada publications). She has one daughter, Eleanor, who was born nine weeks early! Follow Amy on Twitter @BunOutOfTheOven.