I have been meaning to write this post for a while. I have seen a fair amount of talk in general about transitions lately on various blogs and Twitter, so I thought I should get my act together and throw my two cents in.
A is 16 months old and, as many of you know, I went back to work in mid March. It has been an adjustment to say the least. I’ve whined about that before. But what I haven’t talked about is the part that went really well- A’s transition to the DayHome. So I wanted to share why I think it went so well.
First of all, we trusted the environment we were sending her to from the beginning. Both my husband and I just knew it was a good place for A. I really think this is key- look and look until you find a care arrangement you feel really good about. We were planning to put A in a day care, but when the place we were offered was a couple hundred dollars more a month then the other location we signed up for, we started to look around. I am so glad we did. Day Care’s can be great, but we felt that the small, one care giver environment of the Day home we choose was a better fit for A.
So if you are going through this transition, here is my advice:
1) Be prepared for crying at drop off to last a while. It will be okay and eventually it will stop. Then sometime, randomly, it will start up again. That is okay too. Chances are your baby/toddler will stop crying within 2 minutes of you leaving. Really. They will be okay.
2) Be prepared for your kid to be really cranky when you get him/her home for the first couple weeks. You would think he would be happy to see you (which he/she will be) but actually until they feel comfortable with the care environment and care givers, they will just bottle up stress until they feels safe with you and then they will just let it all out. So you end up with cranky baby. That too will pass.
3) Your mood/attitude is key. If you drop them off and are clearly anxious or upset, they will be more anxious and upset. Now since you are human you might not be able to do much about this one for a while, but if you can try to stay as positive as possible, it will make his transition easier. Babies and Toddlers are like little mood sponges and they are VERY perspective.
Lastly, let me repeat, it will be okay. That being said, trust your instinct. I really think it is key to feel very comfortable with your care situation. If you get the sense that something isn’t right- talk to your caregiver. If it still isn’t right- look for an other care situation.
Overall, A’s transition went great. Sure, she cried a bit. But it was clear pretty quickly that she likes being at the Day home. We are very lucky- they play outside most of the day, eat healthy homemade food and the older kids are very kind in playing with the younger kids. So truly, we lucked out. That being said, I was confident from the beginning and when I dropped her off I knew it was right. I think that this attitude I had was the number one reason why A made the transition so well.
Let me say this, I think you can take the key things we learned with A’s positive transition to day home and apply it to just about any transition for an older baby or toddler. It really boils down to:
1) Feel good and confident in your decision (whatever that is that you are then transitioning your toddler too). Don’t do things on a whim or a ‘maybe this might possibly be the way to go’. Think it through. And while I don’t advocate Google as your main form of getting parenting information or advice, I would recommend really talking it through with people/sources you trust.
2) Have a plan. Know what you are going to do and when. I arranged for 2 half days, one after noon and one morning, before I was actually going back to work, to drop A off for a trail at the Day home. This gave me the peace of mind that if something really went wrong the first couple times I dropped her off, that I could come and get her. Which I wouldn’t have been able to do if I was back at work.
3) Do whatever you can to hid any anxiety you have from your toddler. I am all for open and honest communication and I don’t think parents should be unemotional robots. BUT when it comes to helping a toddler with a potentially challenging transition, they want to feel secure. They will feel more secure if they don’t see you all stressed out. If you can’t calm your anxiety, fake it. Seriously. Your kid needs to believe 100% that you feel GOOD about the change. They are very very perceptive. Like VERY. (I know, I am a broken record with this one, but seriously.)
Okay- I am out of wisdom… anyone else out there? What do you think are the keys to positive transitions for toddlers?