Preparing children for any kind of transition is a difficult and emotional time. Moving house, starting school, bereavement, toilet training…the list of changes children have to adapt to are endless and will vary hugely from family to family.
One of the most significant periods of transition likely to affect the entre family is when a parent returns to work after any length of time off with a child. There are so many considerations and hurdles to overcome that it can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle too far.
However, for most families the option to stay at home just isn’t a viable one, and with an increasing amount of employers offering flexible working conditions for parents with young children, there will be a positive way forward that works for everyone.
The good news is there are a number of ways to prepare your child for this transition, which will make the process easier:
Choose childcare carefully
Good childcare should not only be safe and secure, it should also offer high standards of child development. The early years are a crucial time in your child’s brain development and you will want to choose somewhere that will help them grow from a baby to a pre-schooler, developing their social skills, building relationships easily and being able to regulate emptions.
Compile a check list, and questions to ask, such as:
– Will you stick to my routine
– How do you record and share important milestones and daily activities
– What is your attitude to discipline?
Talk to your child about what is happening
For any child old enough to understand that something is changing, it is vital to communicate with them and talk to them about what is happening. Keeping your child in the dark will create scary emotions and make the transition harder for you and your child.
Be open and honest and talk to them about the benefits of you returning to work, such as extra family treats and days out.
As difficult as this step is, it is vital that you remain positive in front of your child, particularly when dropping off at a childcare provider for the first few times. It will be unsettling for your child to have to deal with your emptions as well as their own, so try to be strong and positive.
It is also very important to say goodbye and hello to your child as you leave and return. Children need to learn that even though you leave sometimes, you will return. Sneaking out of the door when they aren’t looking isn’t advisable and will make transition time more difficult in the long-term.
Begin new situations carefully
If at all possible, a return to work should be staged to ease both you and your child into this new way of life. Returning for a couple of mornings one week, followed by a couple of full days the next, and so on, will make the transition easier and smoother for everyone.
*This article was written by Kathryn Thompson, a full time working mum to three daughters aged between twelve and five.