By Chelsea Skaggs, Postpartum Coach
As a new mother, preparing for childcare can seem like climbing Mt. Everest in flip flops. It’s a significant transition filled with equal parts anticipation, anxiety, and the bittersweet feeling of your little one growing up. However, it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it seems. Let’s discuss strategies to make this shift smoother for you and your baby.
Early preparation leads to an easier transition. And honestly in this day and age of limited affordable childcare options, sometimes you have to wait months on a waiting list. Begin your research months ahead, leveraging platforms such as Care.com and Sittercity to review and assess various childcare providers. The more time you give yourself, the less stressful the decision-making process will be. This is a great time to talk to friends about their childcare experiences and even post and explore your local moms Facebook groups.
Identifying Your Needs
Not all childcare options are created equal, and what works for one family may not work for yours. Some parents prefer the structure and social interaction provided by daycare centers, while others might opt for a nanny or home-based daycare for a more personalized, intimate approach. This is a great time to stop and have important conversations with your partner to get aligned on your values and goals. (If you need support in doing that, it’s my specialty and I can help. Let’s chat.)
This is also a great time to do some mindfulness practice and not compare your journey and situation to other family’s. Remember, this is about identifying what your family needs. Everyone’s work demands, family availability, communities, etc. are different.
Doing Your Due Diligence:
Tour prospective childcare centers or interview potential nannies. These visits provide invaluable insight into their operations, the caregiver-to-child ratio, curriculum, and overall environment. Trust your gut feelings as they can often guide you in the right direction. Look up reviews online to help.
Preparing Your Baby
Change can be tough on your baby. Help ease the transition by gradually adjusting their sleep schedule to align with the daycare routine. Additionally, consider reading books about daycare with your little one, such as “Llama Llama Misses Mama” by Anna Dewdney. This sweet story can help them understand and become more comfortable with the idea of childcare.
Coping With Separation
Separation anxiety isn’t just for babies – parents experience it, too. It’s perfectly normal to feel a mix of emotions when dropping your child off for the first time.
Here are 4 tips for managing your own childcare separation anxiety as a mom:
1. Have something to look forward to during your solo drives. This could be a favorite podcast, audiobook, or a playlist that doesn’t have lullabies on it.
2. Get a journal to write to your child in or
3. Create an email address for your child and write them a little email letter when you are missing them.
4. Reach out to friends or online mom groups who understand your journey.
Make drop-offs less daunting by establishing a routine. Consistency is key, as your child finds comfort in knowing what to expect. Leaving a familiar item, like their favorite stuffy or a special blanket, can also ease separation anxiety.
As Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator, once said, “The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” Entrusting your child to a childcare provider can be a wonderful step towards building their independence and understanding of the world.
When in doubt, remember that you can always reach out to me for personal guidance or support. After all, it takes a village to raise a child, and you are not alone in this journey.