Parenting in the internet age is a constant reminder that my experience is not unique.
Yes, every child is special, et cetera, et cetera, but there’s a reason parenting memes are so relatable.
Here’s why: we’re all having the same core experience, just in different packaging.
You’ll notice it if you bravely venture into the world of online parenting groups for advice around firsts – first foods, first poos, first holidays, first time away from you.
There will be no end of opinions, but ultimately the core experiences seem more the same than different. It’s actually reassuring, and as a novice parent it’s really helpful to know what’s ahead.
Recently, I enrolled my daughter in a new preschool. When I looked for tips on the transition, based on their advice, I realised there are six very distinct phases of your toddler's first week at childcare.
Oh, and I see you there, first timer. You will read most of what I have written and scoff. I once did too.
I was sure I was different, more rational, more emotionally prepared. Turns out that my “research” did not trump 200 other people’s real world experience.
So if you’re a newbie, take note, or if you’ve been through the trenches of The First Week Of Childcare… well, you will know these six emotional stages all too well.
1. The anticipation.
Okay, so this is technically BEFORE the first week, hitting peak levels.
The anticipation stage is all about preparation. Or more accurately, over-preparation. It manifests as a trip (or three) to the shops for a new lunchbox, new water bottle, new clothes, new gumboots, new hat, new bag and let’s not forget those fancy personalised labels your targeted Instagram ads convince you to buy.
In reality, there’s a lot you don’t need.
Comfortable, practical clothes are a much safer bet than a new outfit, and the lunchbox and water bottle you have at home will be fine until they end up in lost property.
As for the special labels, I’ll save you some late nights of re-application (and buyer’s remorse): use a permanent marker instead.