Easing the Transition to Daycare

By Deanna, Macaroni Kid Ottawa Editor and Publisher September 14, 2023

Throughout my pregnancy, I can't even count the amount of times I heard "the days are long, but the years are short." With all of the advice that is offered about raising a child, I would often just smile and say thank you for the advice. This saying could not be more true now that I am a mother and William has just started daycare. How is he already 18 months old? My maternity leave has wrapped up and now I am going back to work? 

The past few weeks have held many transitions- one in particular that has been on my mind a lot is the transition to daycare. I am thankful to have found a daycare centre that I really like and the teachers are amazing. William has started attending the daycare part-time at 3-days a week. I imagine that when I child goes 5 days a week they settle into the routine more easily because they begin to know what to expect each day. 

For all the new parents that are going through the same daycare transitions, here are some thoughts about what I have learned so far....

  • Visit the centre with your child ahead of time. Let them meet their teacher(s) and get to know the space. Plan to spend some time at the centre too - this isn't just a little meet and greet. Take 1-2 hours and let your child play in the space, get to know it, and have the comfort of you being in the room. 
  • Drop off supplies ahead of time. You want the first morning of daycare to go smoothly as you're walking in with your child. You don't want a hectic morning of trying to gather all the items on the supply list. I packed William a backpack with an extra change of clothes, sunscreen, extra hat, his indoor shoes, wipes, and diapers. Incase he's feeling teary there is a family picture tucked in his bag too that the teachers know about. I can't take credit for the picture idea - my friend Justine packed a family picture for her son on his first day of JK and I thought it was a great idea. 
  • Sleep - bring some comforts from home. William is an incredible sleeper at home during his daytime naps and this has not transitioned to daycare yet. I know it will take time and it must be different sleeping in a room with 10-15 other little humans who are missing their comfortable cribs too. I did try to mimic some 'comforts' of sleeping at home with his favourite stuffed animal soother and sleep sack (does anyone else wish that Kyte made a sleep sack for adults?).
  • WOW, DROP OFFS are hard! I was told this ahead of time but you don't realize just how hard it is until your child is crying and calling for 'Mom' right in front of you. I do know that the shorter the drop off, the better. I have a key phrase that I say to Will each day when I drop him off "I love you - you're going to do great things today." Any sense of routine can only help.
  • Communicate with the centre. do you have the number of the centre in your phone contacts? Do this ahead of time. Does the centre use an app or certain software for communication home? Ask ahead of time because the notes about your child being settled in for the day and pictures of them playing and smiling have certainly made me feel better and know that he is crying all day and asking for 'Mom' like at drop off. 

I am going to share this article through the Macaroni Kid Ottawa social media too and would LOVE to hear your feedback and for you to add your own bits of advice (or questions). This will help all the other parents going through the same daycare transition (myself included!).