Ren Johns with PDX Waitlist helps families find day care, preschool, and nannies through classes, one-on-one consultations, and her website where families can schedule tours and sign up for care with nearly 30 providers in the Portland area.
I had so many different emotions when I was getting ready to head back to work after having my first child. They ranged from “Yes! Adult time!” to “How will I make it through the day without cuddling my baby?” I teach families how to do the research to find safe, quality child care, but it’s normal to still feel a little anxious about the initial transition, even when you know your child is going to be with someone great.
Below are a few tips from my own experience and from the advice I’ve received from the dozens of child care providers I work with in the Portland area. And if you’re still trying to find great care for your little one, check out my bio for details on upcoming classes to get a jump start on your search!
- If at all possible, start slow. Have kiddo start the week before you go back. That way they can spend their first day in care for 1-2 hours, add a few more hours on the next day…and gradually work up to their full schedule.
- Labels: worth it! If have the money to spend on pre-printed labels with your kid’s name, do it, especially if you have a kiddo who uses bottles. You have to label and date those suckers Every. Single. Day. and Sharpie washes off after about 4 times (trust me, tried it!).
- Pack the night before! This one feels obvious and yet in the depths of sleep deprivation can feel like a revelation. Pack your work bag, your lunch, and baby’s stuff the night before. For little ones, that’s typically a few fresh diapers/changes of clothes to replenish the used ones from their stash at school + bottles (see below!).
- Buy extras of everything. Your goal here is to minimize the likelihood that you will accidentally leave something critical on the drying rack at home. Having twice as many bottles (and pump parts if you’re nursing) means you’ll always have something clean, dry, and ready to pack the night before.
- Bottle holder – a parent’s best friend. You know those foldable cardboard containers that hold six packs, the ones you’ve been cavalierly recycling all this time? Well fish it out of the blue bin my friend because that is the PERFECT device for carrying the 4+ bottles they’ll need each day while also simultaneously holding your child and entering a key code to make it through the door at day care. You can buy a fancier insulated version, but why?
- Expect crying. In all seriousness, shifting from spending every waking moment with a parent or family member to spending those hours with someone new is an adjustment. Expect that the first few weeks will include a good deal of crying and know that you didn’t make a mistake, things will get better as they develop a relationship with their caregiver.
- Quick goodbyes and long hellos. Since crying is a given, you may be tempted to try and hang out and comfort your child or to sneak out, but both of these strategies only make things harder on your kid. Aim to have a brief consistent routine – a hug, kiss and “See you in a few hours” is plenty, even if they are bawling their eyes out as you go (the crying generally stops pretty quickly once you’re out of sight). If you want to feel more connected to the place where they spend a big chunk of their day, spend extra time playing and exploring together at pick-up.
By: Ren Johns
Need day care, a preschool, or nanny? We’ll teach you everything you need to know to find safe, quality care AND we’ll give you leads on places with openings in the next 3-6 months. Plus, you’ll gain access to a host of discounts and deals on services for new families worth well over $50. See the discussion for details!
In two hours, we’ll walk you through:
• Options and costs for care
• What to ask/look for on tours and in interviews
• How to make sure your provider is a safe choice
• Where to look to find providers and nannies
And more! You’ll walk away with a game plan for your next steps and leads on places with openings in the next 3-6 months.
Cost: $35/ family, partners encouraged to attend, babies in arms welcome!
Refund Policy: A full refund minus $5 processing fee is available up to one week prior to class
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