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.
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.