Sending your little one off to nursery or daycare for the first time can feel like stepping into uncharted territory. With emotions running high and a whirlwind of concerns, it's useful to have a roadmap for this new journey.
The first day of school, nursery or daycare is likely causing a whole mix of emotions as you get ready to embark on a new chapter of your child’s life. It’s normal to feel nervous, excited, and saddened by this change in your routines – but there are some steps you can take to ease the transition for both you and your child.
Accept how you’re feeling
This is a time of big change, and it may be the longest you’ve spent away from your child since you started your parenting journey. Try to be kind to yourself as you accept this new reality and allow yourself to grieve the past version of your relationship together. This is a normal part of parenthood, and while it’s difficult, it opens new exciting opportunities too.
Give yourselves time to adjust
As with all change, it can take some time to adapt to your new routines. It’s a good idea to take your child for short sessions at their new day care or nursery so that they can get used to the new environment before going more regularly.
You might find these few hours apart better prepare yourself for the upcoming change in routine too, easing the transition when it happens.
Talking openly and positively about your child’s new adventure can help ease first day nerves and focus on the exciting aspects of this next step. Focussing on the exciting activities and friends that your little one is going to make and maintaining good communication with the staff who will be caring for your child are all great ways for you both to look forward to the first day.
Give comfort and confidence
When it’s time for the big day, you might want to let your child bring something that gives them comfort like a favourite toy or blanket. This can help them feel more confident and soothe them if things get a bit much. Saying goodbye with confidence can also help minimise disruption when dropping them off, as they will feel reassured by your energy.
Find support with other parents
Reaching out to other parents going through the same things as you can help to process the change together. You might be relieved to find out others feel the same as you do, and having a place to swap stories and share questions can be really beneficial as you move through this journey together.
If you’re in a relationship...
This change can have a significant impact on parents who are in a partnership, or solo-parents who have found a new relationship since having their child. On the one hand, you have more time to invest in your relationship and do activities just the two of you, while on the other, your relationship dynamic may have shifted since have children. Either way, it can be useful to schedule in some romantic dates and communication check-ins to make the most of this time together and discover what this chapter of your relationship will look like. Remember to actively listen to each other’s perspective, as it's not unusual for partners to have different emotions around big milestones like this, and you might want to reach out for professional support if you’re struggling to reconnect.
Take care of yourself
It can be helpful to view this new-found alone time as a chance to recharge and reflect on how you want your relationships to be moving forward. You might want to start a new hobby, get in touch with friends you haven’t seen in a while, or simply enjoy some ‘me time’. There is no timeline on when you should hit certain milestones or feel a certain way – try and take the transition at your own pace, whatever that looks like to you.
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