Whether you are only off for a few weeks or taking extended maternity leave, returning to work can be a challenging and stressful time.
Many parents look for childcare options but fail to give much thought to sleep and sleeping arrangements when making these choices. In addition, the changes can cause some significant sleep regressions, especially if your little one isn’t sleeping well at childcare. There are a few steps, though, that you can take to make this transition as smooth as possible.
Depending on where you live, childcare options might have a pretty long waiting list that can go up to a year, so planning is crucial. Looking at options ahead of time can take some of the stress away as you will have the time to consider all the alternatives and find the solutions that best fit your family.
The Transition to Childcare
The transition to childcare will likely go easier if your child is sleeping well, to begin with, so if your little one isn’t sleeping well, try working on their sleep ASAP. As changes can cause some sleep regression, it would be best to start working on your child sleep well ahead of time, at least a few months in advance, to avoid waiting until you’re ready to go back to work. If your child is not sleeping well at night, this will cause issues with your baby being tired and cranky, and it would make it very stressful for you to restart your work life if you are sleep-deprived. Starting ahead means that your little one can have the opportunity, to begin with, a gentle and holistic approach and get into a new routine without too much stress. This transition will be way easier if other people can put your baby down to sleep. If you are the only one able to put your baby down, it’s a wonderful feeling. Still, it’s also a huge responsibility, so getting practice from time to time by grandparents, relatives, friends, or a babysitter can help make the transition smoother.
Choosing The Right Childcare Option
If your little one is going to a childminder or daycare, spend some time researching your options and don’t forget to keep sleep in mind whSleepu are evaluating alternatives. Sometimes childminders offer excellent services in terms of food and activities. Still, the sleep environment or the routines might not be ideal for your child, so it’s always essential to consider sleep when choosing a childcare provider and ask questions about their practices. For example, it’s important to know if they have a separate environment for sleep, how dark Sleep, how often are the babies checked and if you can bring in your bedding to help make the environment more comfortable. Most of all, it’s important to ask ahead of time if they are willing to work with you to follow your pre-sleep routine according to your child’s schedule. All these questions are essential for you to make the right choice for your family, as you don’t want to end up having issues with an overtired baby or having to restart working on sleep routines right when you are going back to work. You can download our Sleep @Childcare Sleep Checklist to help you on this journey.
Babies and toddlers often struggle to relax and sleep well in a new environment. It’s the same for many adults, too! Playtime is an excellent way for your baby to familiarise themself with their sleep environment. In our blog post Moving Your Baby To Their Own Bedroom, you’ll find lots of tips on how to prepare your little ones for the transition.
They Are SO Tired!
When babies and children start going to childcare, their schedules will inevitably change. As a result, naps may need to be a little earlier than at home. It’s helpful to know your little one’s tired signs and let your childcare provider know, as they can adjust the nap schedule when your child is showing these signs.
Early To Bed!
An earlier bedtime can be crucial to avoiding overtiredness. Just as adults are often exhausted when starting a new job, little ones can quickly become overstimulated in a new childcare environment. Keeping your little one up later doesn’t help, so you might need to move bedtime earlier, especially during the first months. It’s not always easy, but bedtime may need to be as early as 6 pm! You may need to plan and prepare for flexible bedtimes for the first few months.
If your little one eats early, consider a pre-bedtime snack to avoid hunger in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning. A snack with a combination of protein and carbs is a great choice. It will help avoid a spike in blood sugar that comes with carbohydrates. The addition of protein keeps blood sugar stable and takes longer to digest. A few ideas include yoghurt, crackers or bananas, nut butter or cheese and crackers.
What To Expect
It can take weeks or even a few months to get fully settled into a new routine, so don’t despair if the first few weeks are a little rough. You may experience overtired behaviour, nap resistance or shorter naps at first.
It’s not easy, but try to be patient. It won’t last for too long. Lots of communication and special one-on-one time with your little one can go a long way.
Things will eventually adjust to a new routine for everyone. Hopefully, soon!
If you need some support during this busy time, we’re always happy to help!
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