So, your maternity leave is at an end. It is time for you to return to work. Sure, separation anxiety is your biggest worry right now. It’s to be expected that you would be worried. Most babies going into daycare for the first time are from six to twelve months. That is typically the age babies are most likely to have anxiety when separated from parents and with strangers.
How a Parent Can Make the Transition to Daycare Easier for the Child
There are things a parent can do before the child starts going to child care daily to make the transition easier for the child. We can call it daycare preparation. The following will make the adjustment easier for the child and the parent.
- Elaine Levy, vice president of an agency that runs public daycares in Toronto, recommends that a parent gives the child opportunities to get used to group settings and to socialize before the daily drop-off routine. The parent should visit the child care facility and experience the new environment first hand. This will also allow the parent to share information about the child with the staff.
- According to Carol Wagg of London Children’s Connection in Ontario, a parent should research the child care center before the child begins the daily routine.
The parent should ask the following:
- Is the child allowed to bring a lovey?
- Who the child’s primary caregiver will be?
The parent should provide the staff the following information:
- The child’s eating and sleeping habits.
- What will comfort the child best?
- Is there a special song the child loves?
- Does the child like to be rocked to sleep?
- What will sooth the child?
• Transition Slowly: Work into the daily routine gradually. Begin by leaving your baby only for an hour a day advises Wagg. When you tell the baby you are coming back, he or she simply doesn’t understand. Babies learn from experience explains Wagg. Leaving the child for a short time at first and then returning will give the child the experience to know that you always return.
• Don’t Prolong Goodbye: When you leave, put on a brave face, but avoid overdoing it. A prolonged goodbye will make the baby more distressed and will not be reassuring.
• No Sneaking Out: It may be tempting, but do not under any circumstances sneak out. A proper goodbye to baby will build trust. If you sneak out, the child will, without a doubt, become stressed, and it will take longer for the child to calm down afterwards. The child will become fearful and think Mommy or Daddy disappeared, Wagg further explains. You should tell them you are leaving but will be back. Give the child a kiss and quickly leave.
• Caregiver Can Help: Ask the caregiver to help you with support and comfort for the child and to also provide a distraction. Request the caregiver to greet your child by name and to also get the child engaged in playing before you leave.
Tips for Daily Drop-Off Routine
If you’re running late and are frazzled, your child will sense there is something wrong. So, you want to be sure to be calm. The best way to do that is by being organized. These suggestions should help you to be organized:
- The Night Before: Don’t wait until morning to decide what you will be wearing to work. You have to get the baby ready in the morning for drop-off, and having to decide on what you will be wearing may be too much for the mix. Get your clothes ready the night before. You might even try your outfit on to be sure it is ready for the next day.
- Pack Baby’s Bag: Pack the baby’s bag with what he or she will need the next day the night before. The baby will most likely need the following; diapers and 2 fresh changes of clothes, breastfeeding or bottle, baby wipes and perhaps some cereal. The point here is that you should think about what the baby will need and pack it into his or her bag the night before.
- Plan for the Unexpected: If possible, choose a facility close to your place of work. In that way, you can quickly respond to unexpected emergencies.
- Notes to Help: There are times when everyone needs reminders, and having to drop-off your child may be one of those times. You can avoid forgetting something by hanging a post-it note by your keys. The note should list the items you need to drop-off along with your child every day. You might also put a separate post-it for the special items your child will need for that specific day. Check before you leave that you have all the items listed on your post-its.
- Feed an Infant before Drop-Off: It’s a good idea to feed an infant before dropping him or her off. This will give you and the infant some time to bond before separation. Feeding the infant, will make him or her drowsy and more willing to be handled by the caregiver.
- Give Yourself Peace of Mind: You can give the caregiver a call after leaving. When the caregiver tells you your child is now actively playing and stopped crying within 10 minutes after you left, you will feel so much better.
- Accepting Separation Takes Time: Remember that separation anxiety is something all children experience. Besides, if your child cries when you leave, it is a good thing developmentally. You may feel bad, but think about the fact that your child’s crying shows the child is bonded to you.