Supporting our little ones in daycare and through separation.

Posted by Tara Mitchell on

Dear Daycare Families,

I've received numerous questions lately about the challenges of transitions and big emotions when it comes to daycare. This email is dedicated to addressing those concerns and offering some guidance. Firstly, let's acknowledge that while daycare is a societal norm, it doesn’t mean it’s comes naturally for our little ones. Children are designed to thrive in relationships with their caregivers, primarily their parents and other loving adults. Not so much peer based. So, it's essential to understand some strategies that can make the daycare experience smoother for our children.  Remember you are no doubt trying your best in a culture that doesn’t often feel family supportive.

After a day at daycare, it's crucial to reconnect with our kids both physically and emotionally. Often, we find ourselves rushing through the evening routine - dinner, clean up, screens - but those few hours are precious for re-establishing the attachment bond. Try to carve out dedicated time to truly connect with your child. Whether it's rolling around on the floor, cuddling, or engaging in outdoor play, aim for genuine reconnection without distractions like phones or screens. From this point of connection, we can transition into other activities of the evening, involving our children wherever possible. This might mean cooking together, tidying up as a family, or sharing stories before bedtime. Incorporating our children into these tasks not only strengthens our bond but also reinforces their sense of belonging and importance within the family unit. It is these lead up to bedtimes that also make for much easier bedtime settles.

In the morning, prioritise similar connection points before heading off to daycare. Whether it's sharing breakfast, playing together, or simply showering them with love and attention, these moments really make their time away from you so much smoother.

When it comes to sleep, remember that daycare days can be exhausting and overstimulating for our little ones. Adjusting their routine to account for this may be necessary, such as reducing awake times. Communicate openly with daycare staff about your child's needs and preferences, including comfort items and nap schedules. You may also want to add an extra day nap on daycare days. An early bedtime may be really helpful however just keep in mind if your little one is used to a later bedtime bringing it early all of a sudden may mean a tricky settle, but its worth trying. Mix things up in the lead up to bedtime, don’t be afraid to bath or shower when you first get home so they aren’t so tired, keep the routine a little light hearted, remember your toddlers are tired and a list of boring tasks in the lead up to what they see as boring bedtime isn’t going to entice them in the slightest. Instead if you use those times as a way to connect and involve their toys and their interests it will help so much. Getting sleep sorted is key to better sleep in other environments, if your little one is still having frequent waking, requiring you to settle etc it makes it so much harder for them to sleep well elsewhere. It also means they begin the day tired instead of well rested. We can help immensely when it comes to this part.

Screens before bed inhibit their sleepy hormone melatonin and produce hormones that keep them awake, it also is a guaranteed way of bringing about a second wind, big energy, emotion, inability to focus and less than ideal behaviour right before bed.

Outdoor time will on the contrary help prime their circadian rhythm ready for bed, it will mean they expend energy, build up a sleep pressure, connect with us, get the opportunity to use gross motor skills, imagination and of course our children’s greatest teacher, PLAY!

 I know it sounds like this is all more effort but in fact these things will make parenting so much easier and truly help to shape our little ones lives. When connection is high resistance is low.

 I hope this helps, you are doing amazing!

Big love,


T x

Img: Jessica Kate photography  

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