Your maternity leave has ticked by and it’s almost time for you to head back to work and for baby to start day care. A new stage of life for both of you, it can be daunting to say the least. But with a little preparation and by asking the right questions you can make the transition a smooth one for all of you.
Preparing baby for day care
Ensure baby is comfortable with their new carers
If your day care centre hasn’t already spoken to you about an orientation for your baby then raise it with them. Heading along to spend a few hours with the carers and other kids, while you are present, will help baby ease into their new environment. It will also give you peace of mind that you know the routine and feel comfortable with the people who will be looking after your precious bundle.
If it is possible for baby to start day care a few days or weeks before you head back to work this can also often be a good idea. You will be close by if there are any issues and it can make it less stressful if on their first day you aren’t having to race out the door to get to work for your first day. This isn’t always practical financially so just be prepared to arrive at day care a bit earlier on the first day to allow time to settle in.
Stock up on day care clothes
Day care is not the place to be wearing expensive clothes or beautiful cardigans hand knitted by great grandma. Day care clothes usually come home stained with food, paint, dirt and who knows what else. Many day care centres will have rules about what kids can wear (e.g. no sleeveless tops) so find out if your centre has any rules and buy a few cheap clothes just for day care.
Create a checklist for your day care bag
Every day care centre is different so make sure you know exactly what you need to bring for your child. Do you need to provide sheets for their cot? Water? Lunch? Nappies? Sun cream? Milk? Have a checklist for the first few weeks so you don’t forget anything.
Get all the paperwork right
You will need to provide your child care centre with a copy of your child’s Immunisation History Statement. If you would like to claim any form of government childcare rebates you will need to make a claim through Centrelink. There will be other paperwork you need to complete also and your day care centre should guide you through this process.
Preparing yourself for work
Planning for illness
There will come a day, and it may be sooner than you think, that you receive a call from day care that your little one is unwell. Germs spread like wildfire in that environment with kids passing each other toys or drinking from each other’s water bottles while the carer is helping another child.
Before you go back to work, make sure you have a plan in place for who will be responsible for picking up your baby. If you are only just back at work and don’t feel comfortable leaving early so soon, your partner might be that person for a while to allow you time to settle in. Otherwise you might be able to call on other family members, such as grandparents, to help out. Have the conversation early so you aren’t stuck when the time comes. Also check your company’s policies for carers leave and know where you stand with your boss on working from home or other flexible options to cater for this situation.
(You might also like this guide on when to keep your sick child home from day care)
Know the communication procedures
Before you leave your baby on their first day of day care, be sure you are clear on the communication procedures with the centre. Is it ok for you to call throughout the day to check on your little one? Is there somewhere you can log in to see photos of their activities? How do you let them know if there is anything important they need to know about? These are the people caring for your child so you want to ensure you have a clear communication channel with them.
Set yourself up for success
Being organised is key to success when it comes to returning to work. Just like you probably did before baby was born, stock your freezer with some meals for those nights when you don’t have the energy to cook. Pull out all your work clothes and keep them together in the wardrobe so you can easily decide what to wear in the morning (even better if you wear a uniform!). Keep baby’s day care clothes in a separate drawer so they are easy to access. Implementing these little things will make the transition so much easier on all of you.
This is such a great opportunity for your baby to expand their social skills, and learn so many things about the world around them. And for you, it is an exciting time to be heading back to work, with adult interaction and a chance to have a little kid-free time. Enjoy, good luck and, if you are the emotional type, don’t forget your sunglasses on the first day!
Do you have any tips for preparing for day care when you are returning to work?
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