6 Important Steps To Prepare A Toddler For Daycare

The transition of a toddler from home to daycare or playgroup or preschool is often dreaded. I too was very skeptical as to how my 17 months old son will fare in this transition of home to a two hours daycare session. But in just seven days, he was happily settled in there, which includes two days of being sick!

I will share below how we handled this transition in the calmest way I could have imagined.

Self-Calming Phase By Positive Affirmations

I knew the first thing I should do is to calm myself and be confident of the fact that he will do great. So months before we were supposed to enroll him, I slept with these positive affirmations. It is a part of neurolinguistic programming, the affirmations start getting into your subconscious mind. Here is what I affirmed. (A here means his name initials)
  • A is adjusting very beautifully in the daycare
  • A is happy in daycare
  • A is cooperating with mumma in this transition

Reading Relevant Books To The Child

After I got confident of the transition, I started to hunt for some books that will explain how a daycare/preschool/playgroup is so much fun! A just LOVES books so I thought it couldn’t be better if I try to inculcate love for daycare/playgroup by reading him books. Luckily I found such books soon. I read these books to him every day with a highly animated voice so that he understood the essence of the stories more. He started loving this book ‘Goat Goes To Playgroup‘ and every day in our reading sessions, he would take out this book & ask me to read. This stage was a success again. I was delighted to see he was happy with the term & concept of playgroup.

Sleep Talk

Two weeks before we were supposed to start the daycare, I started giving him sleep talk, I learnt about sleep talk in ISP course. In sleep talk, after the child is asleep, you are supposed to say positive present tense sentences for the behavior or solution you want. This again works on the principle that the affirmations go into the subconscious of the child. I started saying the same affirmations to A that I told to myself.

Packing His Favourite Toys In His Favorite Bag

My husband had got his beautiful bag in the shape of a car from Hong Kong. His love for cars & other vehicles is IMMENSE. So my husband didn’t think twice before buying this bag for him, though it was a little pricey, talk about being an indulgent parent 😉 So I packed some of his favourite stuff like auto, shark, pigeon and few of his favourite books so that he feels something familiar in the otherwise unfamiliar daycare surroundings. He was super happy carrying his bag on the first day to the daycare, a success again. Babysteps 🙂

Making The Daycare Space Familiar

The more familiar I could make this new space for A, the better he would adjust. So the first day, I clicked some pics of A playing with the see-saw, slides, toys and the teachers/caretakers there. I used to show these pics to him at home and tell him their names & tell him that this is your playgroup, you have lots of fun there with friends. He started to say aunty-aunty at home whenever I mentioned playgroup. He made a good connection with an aunty there.

I stayed with him in the play area of their premises for three days for some time and played with him while he made friends with the teachers and caregivers there. Then I would leave him there, come downstairs & wait till he was ready to go back home. He cried initially & it felt terrible! I felt I’m being too selfish but I told myself this is not going to happen every day & I needed to be strong. I gave him heart to heart thoughts while waiting for him downstairs to be calm & happy there, and that mumma will get you back in some time. I think it helped too. Everyday A jumped out of excitement when I told him we are going to playgroup, pick up his car bag and try to open the main door of our house to go out. I felt happy for the fact that he wasn’t dreading his time at playgroup.

No Sneaking Away

After three days, I didn’t go to the play area to leave him. I let the aunty take him upstairs so that he understands mumma is not supposed to go to the play area. The IMPORTANT point here is I never sneaked away leaving him with the caregivers. I honestly told him that you will be having lots of fun with your friends, aunty and mam, while mumma does some office work. So go & enjoy your time. Sneaking away behind the child’s back only increases the anxiety & you lose the trust. The child might get adjusted but that trauma of mumma getting disappeared might be with him for long. Children understand everything, so it’s better to convey the reality to them, they do understand. By the sixth day, A was playing happily with the toys, with his friends & aunty. I felt at the top of the world!!! A huge sigh of relief as he got adjusted.

The seventh day, A went towards aunty on his own, even had a banana in the playgroup. What more can I ask for!

I think it is not just the working moms (office goers) who need a daycare. Even SAHM or WFH moms need it. My reasons for sending him to daycare were –

  1. I wanted few hours for myself to breathe & to do something for my own self. It’s not being selfish but a rejuvenation that I need, to be able to sustain happily whole day running behind my toddler & to be able to handle the difficult moments that any toddler throws quite regularly.
  2. We are a nuclear family and I wanted A to socialize a bit more. He anyways gets bored at home with seeing just his mom whole day, a social interaction never hurts.
I hope these tips will help you when you send your child to a daycare or playgroup or preschool. Do let me know what else worked for you 🙂
Happy Parenting!

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