The first day of school used to simply mean more traffic for me. Now, with small man ready to hit Day Care, the first day of school meant much more than that.
Gone was the sleepy morning play time we had so come to enjoy as baby boy babbled on in his own language about the night before to his mom and dad. Gone too was the intense focus on getting myself ready which, I look back on now as a luxury.
Instead, with a flutter in my heart, I woke up like way to many Triniparents at 4am on day care day one to bang off email, hit the shower, get almost ready in time to quietly sneak into baby’s room to wake and groom him for day care. The tears tried, but they did not come as baby boy, perched on the sink for his way too early hair grooming, looked up at me with baggy eyes.
Unusually quiet, he allowed his dad to change him. Seemed to cuddle much harder than usual as dad handed him off to me – hair all coiffed and big boy t shirt and shorts on. We headed down stairs and out to a pre-packed car chock full of all the needs for day care (List below).
We hit the road at 6:26am having said a lengthier than usual morning prayer and with mommy’s hair rather windblown – my focus was on him. In the traffic I used the auto-hold feature (previously my nemesis) to look back and sneak a caress of my sleepy but awake little man.
Upon drop off at the brand new children’s play school conveniently located less than 10 miles from my house (aka half hour in 6:30am traffic), I gathered up all his things (including waaay too much water for an adult much less a child) and walked him slowly to the doorway of the school. As he got in, he headed straight into ‘aunty’ s’ arms with nary a small wave for me.
All my anxiety and stress for nothing!! Pictures from his school (in time I’d learn they take them and share in a closed Facebook page each day) showed he was happy to play with toys and others. My baby boy was good.
So my tips to make first day of day care/ play school better:
- It’s not them, it’s you: Remember the first day jitters affect you waaaay more than baby. Once you’ve picked a great day care that meets your needs, budget and comfort level, pray and trust it will be better than you fear.
- Label love: for day care and school you will need to label ALL of your child’s stuff. Don’t wait until the day before. Find a friend with a label maker and label everything from spoons and food containers to book bags and wiped containers. Everything. Don’t forget to use a sharpee marker (indelible ink) for all clothes. Why? The very first day of day care, my son came home with all his stuff plus another baby’s spoon and lunch container. Don’t be the mom providing unmarked stuff.
- Buy In Bulk: bad news. Day Care workers do not have the same approach to cleaning and feeding baby that you will. Eg: When I change small man, I use a maximum of 4 wet wipes. Wipes generally last a month in our household. Day Care? Wipes = 2 weeks at like just four hours a day. Why? These are unanswered mysteries once baby is healthy and happy from day care. Solution? Buy in bulk. Team up with a friend who has Pricemart membership to buy wipes, pampers etc a gross at a time. Then send everything in twos – two packs of wipes and two packs of pampers at a time.
- Prepack: listen. Your days of last minute are over. The night before everyday of day care is packing time. I mean it, don’t try to scramble to pack the lunch kit and pampers the morning of because well, poo happens. Literally! Avoid stress by packing early. I leave his lunch kit in the fridge overnight. I make pancakes and sandwiches the night before.
- Simple Food: yeah… Day Care is not the place to have baby try new foods. Keep the food simple and pack only favorites. Remember that while you or granny don’t mind taking an hour to feed baby, daycare Aunties will likely not have that time. I chose self feed options like pancakes and sandwiches for week one and by week two when I switched to foods that needed to be fed to baby, half of the food inevitably came back. Keep it simple.
- Medicine: not every daycare will administer medicine. Be clear on their policies on same. Panadol is packed daily with my small man just in case.
- Be the early worm: Going early for the first few days of day care gives you the opportunity to meet and talk to the Aunties who will be caring for your child. Don’t underestimate the comfort this will bring. Get to know their names and get a sense of the daily routine for your little one.
- Cool means cool: heat is a reality at schools of all levels in Trinidad. Dress your child in cool, loose clothing that is easy to put on and take off. I loved Pediped Sandals for my son as they kept his feet cool too.
- Pick Up Plan: children get sick. Work goes late. Traffic happens. So you need a back up pick up plan in the event your job is not the ‘sure leave early everyday to pick up your child and no one will care’ type workplace. Be sure you have not only a plan but a back up car seat in place also.
What I packed for Daycare (everything was labelled)
- 2 sets wipes
- 2 boxes of pampers
- 1 baby panadol
- A case of water (provided monthly – Yeah.. #overdo)
- 3 outfit changes per day (pee and dirt happen)
- A blanket with home smell
- One pack sugar free yogurt
- Motts apple juice pack with straw (had him learn to drink from strangers for a whole week before)
- Chopped Fruits in the tiniest Tupperware you can find (OK I’m lying I saw other pardnts provide this and I thought it looked cool)
- Sugar free cereal in a labeled zip lock bag for snacks
- Sandwich (I did cheese paste)
These are my tips. Do you have any to add?