I am not going to lie. It's going to be hard leaving your precious baby in the care of her daycare teachers for the first time. You had this (mostly) magical time bonding and getting to know the tiny human you created. Your baby needed you the most—you were her around-the-clock primary caregiver.
As the first day of daycare is approaching, your last day of being with your baby 24/7 is also just around the corner.
Mama, this milestone will impact you in a major way—mentally, physically and emotionally. But from a mom who's been there, I want to tell you that it is going to be okay.
Here's what all moms should know about the first day of daycare, from a mama who's been there.
The first few weeks are always the hardest. But you know that already. You also know that you'll draw on your inner mama super-strength and that you will get through it.
You're a mom and there is nothing you can't handle!
You did your homework. You know your baby will be well-taken care of. And you can practically recite the research—there are many benefits to attending daycare.
Still, it's not easy to leave your perfect, tiny little human with other people—no matter how loving or qualified.
I've been in your shoes. My daughter's first daycare was about as perfect as it gets. It was the equivalent of Harvard for babies. I was (and still am) incredibly grateful for being able to send my daughter to a place that gave me the peace of mind I needed while I was at work.
Yet, as I handed over my barely 3-month old to the lovely daycare teacher, I was choking back sobs. My rational brain reminded me that my child would be sleeping for most of the day and I should be thankful for the quality child care she was receiving. But my heart wasn't on board.
The internal struggle was beyond anything I've ever experienced before.
As much as I loved my job and craved adult interaction, I doubted my decision to return to work full time. I spent a few hours of my first week back at work watching daycare video camera footage (mostly my kid sleeping), and calling the daycare to check in on my daughter. (Sidenote: to all the wonderful, daycare workers who provided such excellent care for my daughter, thank you. I'm sorry I was a 'wee bit' of an emotional trainwreck.)
Mama, I'm here to tell you these feelings are completely normal. It is OK to feel conflicted about work (even if you love your job) and to question your decision about daycare.
Daycare drop-off can be traumatic for new mamas. I *wish* there was an easy way to deal with the inevitable fireworks of emotions that every mama goes through the first time they drop off their babies at daycare.
But there are ways you can plan ahead for that painful first drop-off at daycare. The 'easing in' approach helped me A LOT.
The week before I was due to return to work full time, my daughter and I made guest appearances at the daycare. On the first day, I observed the class routine and held my baby the entire hour I was there.
I returned the next day for two hours and handed over the baby to one of the smiling teachers. The kind, wise daycare director saw right through my delay game. She politely urged me to make plans for the third day and to leave my daughter with the amazing women in the infant room (she had a point… I was paying for them to take care of my child).
Mama, I ugly cried for what seemed like an eternity in the parking lot before I could pull myself together to meet my friends for lunch.
Years later, I'm here to tell you it's going to be okay. You will reflect on the daycare days with a grateful smile. Your baby will be cared for by qualified, loving daycare teachers. She will thrive in the company of other little humans.
The best part? I met some of my best friends through daycare You will have a whole new village to join. It may not be like socializing in your pre-child days, but your new tribe of fellow parents will give you exactly what you need—support and validation. After all, you will all be going through the exact.same.things—together.
So mama, as you approach your much anticipated/dreaded daycare drop-off moment, go easy on yourself. Plan for a day filled with emotional drama (with tears shed mostly by you) and if you are able, do something fun for yourself.
The mama who has been there