Prepare yourself and your child with tips on how to handle the first day of daycare in Ottawa.

How to Handle the First Days of Daycare in Ottawa

The first day of daycare and the next few weeks that follow are an exciting time for both you and your child. You are both becoming accustomed to a new routine while spending time apart. And while you might get the first-day jitters and feel uneasy with this inevitable change, there are things you can do to reduce stress, make the transition as smooth as possible, and make the most out of this new lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you adjust to your child’s first time at a daycare in Ottawa.

Leading Up to the First Day

Here are some helpful tips to prepare you and your child for the first day of daycare:

  • Review the daycare schedule with your child to give them a better understanding of what to expect on a typical day at daycare. If your child is used to hearing the name of the scheduled activities, they will be more comfortable with that sense of familiarity. This also gives you a chance to go over what your child will be up to during the day and help to ease your worries.
  • Change your sleep schedule to become accustomed to getting ready earlier in the morning and bringing your child to daycare. You and your child may need to go to bed a bit earlier, so you can wake up at the new time while still getting enough sleep.
  • Visit the daycare beforehand, so both you and your child familiarize yourself with the space and teachers. This will help your child adjust to their new surroundings and will help you feel more confident and trusting towards your child’s caregivers.
  • Present your child a gift for their first day to make this change exciting. A new outfit, shoes, or backpack will help your child feel confident with their “big-kid clothes” when walking into daycare.

On the First Day

Although the first-day jitters are normal, you can ease this stress with the following:

  • Allow for plenty of time to get ready in the morning. Wake your child up early so neither of you will feel rushed. The stress of rushing in the morning can put a damper on both of your moods and make the first day more challenging.
  • Pack your child’s favourite toy or photo. Although this special memento might have to stay in their cubby, your child will be comforted knowing that they have something sentimental close by.
  • Arrive early to daycare so you can spend some time with your child walking around the classroom or centre before daycare starts. Ask your child to point out what they see and if there’s anything special they want to show you before you leave.
  • Start a goodbye routine that will help your child adjust well to drop-off time. Try to keep everything the same, such as your parking spot, the door you enter, walking to the cubby, going over the day’s assignments or activities, and saying a short, happy goodbye with hugs and kisses. If your child cries, don’t worry—the daycare teachers will be able to comfort your child.

Try to relax after the first-day drop-off and remember that this system will get easier with time. Aim to arrive for pick-up at the same time every day, and give your child some time at pick-up to share with you what they did during the day. After daycare, make sure to have fun and spend quality time with your child. If your child expresses any fears about going to daycare, reassure them that it’s normal to fear new things in life. This will help them adapt as they realize that even though change is inevitable, it doesn’t have to be a negative experience.