Preparing for your child’s first day at nursery

Top tips from a working mum.

No matter whether your baby is 3 months or 3 years when the time comes for their first day at nursery it is a huge milestone for your family. All parents tend to feel a mixture of anxiety and excitement on the first day. Having been through the process twice with my children I have shared below some advice that really helped our family when I returned to work.

Talk about it, regardless of your child’s age or level of understanding, talk with excitement about who they are going to see and all the lovely things they will be able to do at nursery. If age appropriate give them lots of opportunities to ask questions and reassure them.

Parents: talk to your partner or friends who have children. This will help to normalise your feelings and alleviate any anxiety. Sometimes coming up with a plan B with your employer or a relative in case your little one struggles to settle can really help for those first few sessions. I had my mother in law on stand by for the first week or two just in case my baby son struggled at all. He settled really quickly so we didn’t need to use our plan B, however it made me feel better and more able to concentrate on work for those first few days.

If your little one is a bit anxious or has any questions or concerns write these down then share with their key worker. It is really helpful to the staff as they can then take the time to reassure your little one within the context of the nursery setting. For example, if your little one is worried about where their comforter will be or what to do if they need to use the toilet their key worker can take time 1:1 to show them what to do and where things are.
Pack the bags the night before & make a list of what you packed (this will be helpful at pick up time). You will get a better nights sleep knowing you are all prepared and have made sure they have everything they need. Don’t feel bad about turning up for their first day looking like you have packed for a long weekend. The nursery staff are used to this and its always better to have too much rather than not enough. Don’t forget your list at pick up time so it all comes home with you!

Be excited and smile lots, its hard leaving our babies for the first time but your little one will be looking at you to help develop their feelings about this new place and experience. The more you can think and talk positively your child will feel calmer and more reassured.
Keep the goodbyes short and smiley. Even if your little one is upset give them a big kiss and a smiley wave goodbye. They WILL settle and your keyworker will give you a call to let you know when they are happy and playing. Your keyworker will always make time to speak to you so just pick up the phone at any time if you want to hear about their day.

At the end of the day, your key worker will tell you about your little one’s experiences and activities that day. Be interested and take the time to talk, this demonstrates to your child that you and their nursery caregivers have a good relationship and that you trust them. The nursery staff will all be experienced in developing relationships with parents, the better you get to know each other and develop great communication will help reassure your child.
Try to enjoy this milestone as much as possible and seize the opportunity to help your child establish confidence and trust in other adults and in new situations. This skill will help them in many of life’s experiences such as starting school, joining a club or sports team or commencing their first job.