Hindsight is a magical thing, isn’t it?
As a first-time mum, I was so worried about what starting daycare would do for our little boy. I returned to work when he was just 10 months old, and I was consumed with a horrible combination of guilt and anxiety.
I did all the overthinking. Imagining every possible worst-case scenario, and playing them on loop in my head.
I was sure we’d lose our attachment, or he’d cry all day and his carers wouldn’t know how to care for him the way I could. The idea of not being around to cuddle him would send me to tears as soon as I walked out of the daycare gate (even though he was not bothered at all).
Fast forward six years and that little baby has just started big school. His little brother, who also started daycare at 10 months old, has been left holding the fort without him.
And you know what? They are both absolutely fine. More than fine, actually.
The daycare years have taught me some valuable parenting lessons, most of which I wish I’d known before we got started. Shame life doesn’t work that way, huh?
Here are 9 things that would have been great to know before we started daycare
1. In time, all kids grow to love kindy
Drop-off tears are the WORST, but my kids got better over time as they got used to the separation from me and grew more independent and confident at daycare – and also just older.
2. They’d get sick A LOT
Prepare yourself to miss quite a few days in that first year of childcare – their developing immune systems seem to pick up everything going round! If I had known this, I could have had a better plan in place for these days.
3. Public holidays are not daycare days
FYI – most public holidays fall on a Monday so don’t book them in on these days because you STILL HAVE TO PAY when they don’t go!
4. That bad sleep habits would actually improve thanks to the ‘herd’ mentality
My little ones tried more foods (apparently ate two bowls a day) and slept so much better because everyone else was doing it.
5. They’d be more creative
All that art and craft they do at daycare rarely happens at home. Textas and a big sheet of paper are about as creative as I get.
6. They’re suckers for routine
I guess all kids are. But the play, sleep and eat cycle really helped them feel safe and secure and also helped on the weekends at home too.
7. You don’t need to overcompensate at home with anything other than love
If you need reassurance about this wonderful fact, listen to anything mothercraft nurse Chris Minogue has to say on this. For example, 20 minutes of your undivided attention is actually the ONLY thing your little one needs after you pick them up.
8. Same goes for dinner
Chris says we just need to keep the evening meal really simple on daycare days. Cheese on toast, pasta and sauce, or fish fingers and some cut up veggies is more than ample. (Remember they eat a good meal at lunchtime).
9. Unstructured free play in a big space is JUST what the doctor ordered
All that noise, mess and other kids just running around like maniacs, speaks to our little ones in a big way. They just love it.
All that stress I felt about enrolling my kids in daycare was really for nothing. It was the best choice for our family at the time, and it has been a huge help in so many ways. If only I’d known that at the beginning.
Need some toddler behaviour advice? Our Parent School toddler experts can help. Click to find out more or book a one-on-one session.