parent opinion

LEIGH CAMPBELL: The 4 ways you'll feel when sending your child to childcare for the first time.

KU Children's Services
Thanks to our brand partner, KU Children's Services

Sending your little one to childcare or daycare for the first time is one of the parenting milestones you didn't know was a thing until you became one. 

First birthday, first tooth, sure, but just like surviving their first fever, starting childcare feels like a massive achievement once the anticipation is over.

You worry about how they’ll perceive this new world, if they’ll long for mum and dad, and what friendships they’ll form for the future.

At childcare - particularly somewhere like KU Children's Services, one of the largest not-for-profit providers of early childhood education in Australia - children find their voice, and become ready for the world. They also form part of a community, where small acts of kindness happen every day. You know that they're surrounded by values like leadership, diversity and inclusion, and integrity, but that doesn't mean your feelings aren't complicated.

In fact, when it comes time for them to go, no one really tells you how you’ll feel. The focus is on making sure your tiny best pal is okay, and rightly so, but you’re going to go through a whole host of emotions, too. Well, I did, anyway. 


Guilt is (sadly) one of the most common emotions when it comes to parenting, and is definitely heightened when your child starts childcare. You feel bad for leaving them, and your heart aches when they cry or call out for you at drop off.  

On my son’s first day of daycare, I cried the entire way to the office and called my own mum, who told me the story of my first day of preschool, assuring me that she felt just the same and it’s a rite of passage. 

'It's a rite of passage.' Image: Supplied.

I still feel mum guilt now, and my son has been in childcare for about eight months. When I feel that way I try to remind myself that it’s excellent for his brain and social development, his immune system and his happiness. ‘School’ is so much more exciting these days than hanging out with boring old mum! 

Places like KU Children's Services have qualified and highly skilled teachers and educators, doing far more than any individual can do to get their child school-ready. 



Before starting preschool or childcare you know exactly what your little pal gets up to, because they’re metaphorically (and sometimes literally) joined at your hip. So, when they go off for the day to have their own adventures with their educators and friends, you find yourself pondering what they're up to. 

My husband and I often say to each other “I wonder what he’s doing right now?”, and our favourite part of the day is getting photos and updates from childcare of what he did that day. It might be playing with an instrument, learning about Indigenous culture, or practising brushing his teeth. It’s always so varied which makes me excited for what his little world will look like tomorrow. 

'We find ourselves pondering what our son is up to.' Image: Supplied.


Okay sure, freedom might not be an emotion, but it’s definitely one of the perks and surprising parts about your child attending childcare. 

Truth be told, I’m mostly at work when my child is there, but even then I am able to drink a hot coffee or tea in one sitting, go to the loo by myself and take more than 30 seconds, and even enjoy a podcast or my own music in the car instead of having Baby Shark on repeat.  

I love my son more than anything, but I am a much better mum when I have some freedom to be by myself, focus on my work and reclaim some of the ‘old me’. Childcare affords me that.  


My son came home from daycare not long ago, pointed to a block and rejoiced “purple!”  

I definitely didn't teach him that colour - it was a word he learned at childcare that day.  

Every week I am amazed by the new words, phrases or games he brings home and proudly displays. He’s learning so much and is forming such beautiful friendships with his little classmates, it makes me so proud (and a little emotional!) to witness. He’s becoming his own little person and childcare is helping shape my little boy into the best version of himself.

KU Children's Services
At KU, children find their voice. Curious and social, they’re ready for the world. They’re happy with who they are, and interested in who you are. KU Children’s Services is one of the largest not-for-profit providers of high quality early education in Australia.