Your Guide to a Guilt-Free Daycare Transition


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“When are you going back to work?” well-meaning friends and family want to know. Half of them assume you are going to be devastated to be away from your baby- the other half laugh that they bet you can’t wait to start the daycare transition. The truth? Could be anywhere in there if you’re like most mamas I know.

Leaving my first born felt like leaving my arm behind. But I also liked carrying a purse instead of a diaper bag, and all the adult conversation that my job entailed. Mixed feelings- up and downs- hallmark feelings of a mama at the end of maternity leave.

Whether you are going back to work after your first baby or your third, the transition from maternity leave to daycare can be really hard — on you and your baby. The goodbyes can be heart-wrenching no matter what and you might wonder if you and your baby will survive this tough time. You are not alone mama!

You and your baby will survive- and thrive. Here’s how…


What to do before:

Decide what kind of transition is best for you and your child. Some children and parents do better with a gradual daycare transition. Over the course of a few weeks, slowly increase the amount of time spent with a caregiver, or at a daycare, until full days are reached. Other children and parents find that after an initial get-to-know-you phase, it’s better to start the new routine right away.

Get some books to read about separation. Even a young baby may be able to understand some of the message. There are lots of good ones out there. My personal favourite is Owl Babies by Martin Waddell – the mama owl always comes back! I also love Oh My Baby, Little One written by Kathi Appelt.

Play lots of object permanence games. Hide-and-Seek, Peek-A-Boo, hiding and finding favourite toys. This helps teach your child that you are always there even if he can’t see you and that you will always come back.

Give your child a transitional object. A baby might have a stuffy or blanket to remind her of home and an older child could have a locket with a picture of her parent(s) in it. You can also give your child something of yours that will also have your scent, like a scarf.

Make a picture book of “Who Loves Baby.” The caregiver can look at it with your child during the day if/when the emotional pangs of missing you start to set in.

Try on your work clothes before the first day back! Even if you have lost much of your pregnancy weight, your clothes might still fit differently. If you are breastfeeding expect engorgement at first and wear clothes that accommodate your breast changes.

Fill your freezer. Make sure there are plenty of easy meal options for the first few weeks of the transition so that you can focus on spending time with your baby or child when you get home from work and daycare. Host a going-back-to-work party and get your friends to bring you a dish for your freezer. Even after the initial adjustment many parents like to do some cooking on the weekend to make the week easier. 

Develop and use a connection ritual. You can use this to send your baby/child off feeling embraced by you and to “collect” them when you see them again. My grandmother used to tell me, “I love you dearly, dearly, dearly” every time we said hello, goodbye, goodnight or good morning. My eldest son and I had a ritual of 5 kinds of kisses that we always gave each other – “Cat Kiss,” “Smooch,” “Fish Kiss,” “Butterfly Kiss,” and “Dog Kiss.” Your child will feel more connected to you and confident and you will create a ritual that he will remember forever.

Support your child by finding a “go to” support person at the daycare. Your child may have more than one caregiver; see if one person can be her main source of comfort and connection. It is very important that your baby has someone to bond with. (This is a big reason why I like home daycares– but a good day care centre should also be able to provide some continuity for your child.) Take a picture of this person and your child together and put it on your fridge. Treat her like a member of the family.  

What moms wish they knew: You don’t necessarily have to prepare your baby for a new reality when they are still at home. Before your mat leave is over, it’s not necessary to wean your baby or teach them to fall asleep without you. Babies are amazingly competent and usually have no problem with 2 routines. At home your baby might require half an hour of nursing or rocking to fall asleep, while your caregiver will likely be able to get him to fall asleep with 2 minutes of back patting in the Pack-n-Play. Many moms would swear that their daycare workers have a magic fairy dust that helps their babies settle to sleep with superhuman speed. And many daycares are very flexible with stroller sleeping (or whatever else your babe needs to get some ZZZs). If you want to continue a breastfeeding relationship outside of daycare hours, you, your breasts and your baby will be able to adjust to this new schedule. No need to wean.


During the daycare transition:

Get extra sleep and get some exercise if you can. If you’re depleted it will make the transition harder for everyone.

Expect your baby to be clingier. This is normal and good. They are showing you how to meet their needs and their needs are for increased connection with you when you are together. This won’t last forever so try to enjoy all the extra snuggle time.

Plan to devote the first part of the evening to your baby. Spend the first 30 minutes reading, playing, breastfeeding. Be prepared for baby to want you as soon as he/she sees you. One mama told me that she sneaks into the house so she can change before her baby sees her so she is ready to play and reconnect as soon as she sees her baby. Make sure to get them laughing and do some physical play. Laughter and time together helps you and your baby process the day and your separation from each other.

Allow yourself to grieve. Recognize your emotions as they come up – acknowledge them and let them move through you. The only way out of a feeling is through it.

Don’t be surprised if you feel like a completely different person. Our priorities often shift when we become parents. Maybe you’re not as driven as you were before. Maybe your interests have changed. This is a new chapter of your life!

Expect more night wake-ups during the transition phase. Baby may nurse a lot at night to make up for lost daytime feeds, or just for extra cuddles because he/she misses you. Try to top them up as much as possible during daytime hours when you’re together. If it appeals to you, consider the family bed. Some parents find that night togetherness helps them feel better about being apart during the day.

Don’t forget to make time for YOU. It can be easy to spend half the day devoted to work and the other half devoted to family. Try to carve out some time to do something just for you. Walk to work occasionally. Take yourself out for a fancy coffee. Take a bath in the evening.

Be a slacker- give yourself a break. During this transition time your house may be a mess, you may feel like you’re dropping all the balls. Go into survival mode for a while. It will get easier (we promise). When possible, ask for help or outsource, It is impossible to do it all. 

What moms wish they knew: It’s normal to have mixed feelings. You might miss your baby so much it feels like your heart is breaking. But you also might be happy to be back in adult company again doing meaningful work. It can be fulfilling to trade a diaper bag for a purse and eat lunch with other grown-ups. Acknowledge that you are a human with complex and sometimes contradictory desires.


Saying goodbye:

Explain to your child what will be happening. It is important to say “Mama/dada always comes back.” This is important to do before daycare starts and to continue it all through the transition. Even a young child will be able to understand some of what you are saying, especially if you have read separation stories and played object permanence games.

Focus on connection- even when you say goodbye. Draw your child’s attention to when you will be together again. Often we say things like “Oh it will be so fun to…  play with your friends, play with the toys they have, play outside” etc. This is understandable- we want our child to feel good about the separation from us so we focus on all the fun she will have. But as you separate from your child- let her know when you’ll be together again and what will happen when you are reunited. “When I pick you up at 5 I will have a snack for you and we will have a big snuggle and walk home together.”

Greet your child’s caregiver warmly and with enthusiasm. Your child has to feel your confidence in the person you have entrusted with his care.

Do not sneak out! Always say goodbye to your baby/child. If you sneak out, it’s easier for you not to hear them cry but it’s harder for your baby. It teaches her that you could disappear at any time and creates tons of anxiety.

Use your special connection ritual to say goodbye. Don’t forget to remind your child explicitly that you always come back.

Make your goodbye cheerful, quick and confident. Your baby has to know that you believe she can handle this!

When you are together again- take a few minutes to “collect” your child emotionally and re-connect- even after a short separation. A special greeting or “hello” ritual helps your child know he’s back in the warmth of your affection and makes the rest of your day easier.

One mama I spoke to recently had these words of wisdom about the transition back to work:

“It’s a huge lesson in letting go of control and allowing other influences to shape your child. It can feel like the first step in accepting that though your child is OF you he is NOT you… Managing your own stress and anxiety and not projecting that onto your child is often the hardest part. I cried in my car after every drop off. Thoughts like “He’s too little… He can’t handle this…” haunted me. 6 weeks later he was thriving. We– mostly me– had survived.”


You WILL adjust and so will your baby.

To get a free printable “Guilt-Free Daycare Transition” click here
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Confessions of a Parenting Expert

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Yesterday my doula friend was over with her kids.  We were chatting over coffee about the newest parenting course I had been certified in… and then, blood curdling screams.  It was my older son, having an epic meltdown, which evolved into the biggest freak out of his entire life.   This was the kind of tantrum that pushes all your buttons and triggers you so deeply that you need to devote a therapy session to unpackage it all.  The kind that leaves both you and your child utterly exhausted, physically and emotionally.

All these thoughts and worries ran through my head after my friend showed herself out.  The irony of the timing, with me showing her my new parenting workshop notes.  What right do I have giving advice to parents, when things are so far from perfect in my home?  Will my friend let her kids still play with mine?  Does she think I’ve created a monster?  Is this a reflection of my parenting?  Logically I know, that I am parenting from my heart, with empathy and a lot of patience, and that I would not, could not do it any differently.  But these doubts sometimes creep in (EGO)! 

When I share inspirational thoughts, stories and memes on social media, the last thing I want to do as an educator is to make parents feel less-than, but it happens, just like it happens to me.  Many parents appreciate the information or anecdotes, but some may feel like they are failing when their life doesn’t match up to what they see through Facebook coloured glasses.  And that is the last thing I want to do. My goal is always to empower families. Then one day it dawned on me, I was in Psychotherapy residency,  future therapists were participating and sharing their personal stories, issues and challenges, and I realized –we help others because we too needed help, and maybe still do. This post has been percolating for a couple years now, and I feel I owe it to parents to keep it real and share some truths. 

I don’t always take my own advice.

And I am tired because of it. I know how to recover when I have reached burn out status.  Go to bed earlier, lay off electronics 1-2 hours before bed, drink smoothies and reduce processed foods.  But it has taken years to get to the point of knowing my signals of burn out and remedy accordingly.  I am still working on the proactive part of the equation, I still require help in this area, and that is ok!

My house is a mess.

I try! And I find having a clean and organized home pretty key in my personal quest for balance. I’m not so good at letting the mess go, as many a poignant meme would suggest.  Alas, sometimes it is more pressing to get down on the floor and get dirty with the kids.  So for sanity’s sake, I go outside with them so I can be present and not annoyed by the cluttered kitchen and messy beds. When guests come over and my house is clean, I am secretly quite excited by my luck!  But just so ya know, if I go to your house and it is messy, I am also excited and it kinda makes me like you more ☺

I fight with my husband.

We have been together for over 15 years and are the best of friends.  I can teach couples how to resolve conflict respectfully, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get tired sometimes, hurt sometimes, and veer off the most healthy of scripting when I bring up an issue with my own husband.  Marriage can be tough.  Marriage with children, tougher!  But I love him beyond words, and know in my soul that there is no one else on the planet I could imagine growing old with, so we work at it. Moment to moment, one day at a time.

I love wine and coffee…

Sometimes we eat fast food…

I raise my voice…

I cry…

I get anxiety…

I use the ipad too much…

I still have so much to learn…

And I feel isolated in my choices.

+The isolation when my first son was born was so heavy. All the dreams I had of mommy play-dates when I was pregnant were shattered when the intensity of caring for a little human came to be. The polarizing philosophies to muddle through with all the cattiness and politics just made a hard situation nearly unbearable some days.  I wanted desperately to be validated for doing what was so instinctual yet in some ways counter-culture.  So I sought out some like minded parents via the interweb, I ate up all I could about developmental psychology, took parenting class after class and began studying psychotherapy.  My mission is to empower parents.  To eliminate all the shaming around not just the kids, but people of all ages/races/backgrounds.  This is the essence behind what I do.

As it turns out, my sweet friend Julie had no expectations that my house and family always look like my Instagram account.  Her being present during a moment of realness actually helped facilitate us growing closer.  That’s what we all need.  To be freed from the pressure to live up to some façade of perfection.  Even us parenting experts know –the struggle is real, and you are so far from alone.  Let’s vow to raise one and other up from here on out, get out from under our clouds of shame and be ok with wherever we happen to be in our own journeys!

How To Fuel Your Energy Tank When You’re Running After Baby

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We’ve all heard it, in fact we all have most likely sang it on the playground many moons ago…“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage”. So idyllic, and so blissful, the thought of bringing a baby into the family. And so it is!

After 9 months of preparation, and eager anticipation, the curtain drops and into your life comes a small miracle. Through the haze of emotional ecstasy comes a slow and steady realization that this ‘little one’ is now solely dependent on you, the caregiver. Even with all the love that you can provide, that is no small feat! From this point to forever, as a parent, you will expend physical, mental and emotional energy. That energy may wane as the years pass, but as a parent, it will never subside.

So what is the secret to getting energized and staying energized?

In order to perform admirably in duties such as the countless diaper changes and baby feedings, to getting up throughout the night and becoming entertainer in the daytime, your body and mind requires an abundance of energy!

Think of yourself as your favourite car for a moment. You have a gas tank. In order to function, and to travel any distance, you need gas in the tank. Gas fuels the car and can allow the car to perform optimally. As the fuel gets used, the gas tank empties, therefore the car will need more gas to continue to perform optimally. You still with me?

Now to you. Your body requires fuel to energize your system. Over time that fuel gets used up and needs to be replaced. Fuel comes in different forms for the human body. Check out my tips to stay energized and on a full tank:

SLEEP
This is one of the most important aspects of our lives and typically the area we cut back on most. Your body needs sleep for recovery and energy. Optimal sleep is anywhere from 7-11 hours per night. Naps are also proven to be extremely beneficial. Why not sneak a 20-30 minute catnap when the ‘little one’ dozes off!

NUTRITION
Much like the gas tank analogy, the quality of what you put in the tank is equally important for performance. The better the gas, the better the performance. Much has been said, written, studied, and documented about nutrition and its absolute benefits. Some general principles and guidelines: Reduce or remove all sugars, refined products, and processed foods. Eat the colours of the rainbow. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Drink pressed juice, or make fruit and vegetable smoothies. Add more nuts, beans and legumes. You are what you eat! Eat good, feel good!

In addition, take time to plan meals and snacks ahead of time. Have the ingredients, have meals and snacks prepared and ready to go. This time saver alone is a huge energy booster.

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HYDRATION
The human body consists of 50-65% water. It is a crucial part to our day to day functioning. Even a 2% drop through dehydration causes lethargy, lack of focus, and low energy. A study by Loughborough University showed a water loss of as little as 5% can result in a 30% loss of energy. The recommended daily intake of fluids by the Dietitians of Canada is 9 cups (2.2 litres) for women, and 12 cups (3 litres) for men. Now that is not easy, but learning to drink on an ongoing basis is certainly more optimal than drinking when thirsty. Have a water bottle handy and drink continuously throughout the day. Although you’ll begin by running to the bathroom more, you will notice a clear mood and energy difference.

EXERCISE
There is nothing like some exercise to boost energy and promote feeling good. Exercise stimulates the body and releases dopamine, the bodies natural feel-good drug. Whether you are tired and run down, or just flat out not in the mood, if you can muster up the strength to get through a 15-30+ minute workout, (run, bike, swim, yoga) you will feel rejuvenated, self-confident, de-stressed, and energized!

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Sleep, Nutrition, Hydration, and Exercise are by no means a secret. In fact, they are the pillars to leading a well balanced and healthy lifestyle. Here are some additional tips to find energy in other ways:

JUST BREATHE
Step outside, go for a walk, or open the windows. Let some clean air circulate through your lungs and permeate your system. Breathing in clean air and ridding your body of toxins is a great way to grab an energy boost. Take 5 minutes or more to connect with nature.

BE PRESENT
Sometimes when your child is playing and all you can think of is the laundry list of things-to-do, take a moment to be present. Enjoy the moments that seem to pass in the blink of an eye. You won’t regret it! Be silly, dance, play, laugh, act like a scary tickle monster, sing like Elmo. You’re kid(s) will love you for it all the more, and guess what, you’ll love yourself that little bit more too. Yay for energy!

Looking forward to greater health

OTHER MOMS (PARENTS)
Seek out other moms. They are everywhere, and most likely feeling, and thinking, the same as you are. There is strength in numbers. Call and meet up with friends for a playdate. Looking for new mom friends? Check out your local library and community centres for events and gatherings. Head out to the park. Say hi and spark up conversation at the grocery store. Find mom groups online in your area, check out ‘Mom Meet Mom’. For many, this is a welcome relief and a win-win. Some like-minded adult contact and conversation goes a long way in dispelling any doubts, fears, and concerns. In fact, you may feel energized and supported by the network you create.

Simply put, your energy can come from intentional acts and behaviors. Raising a baby is arguably the most rewarding responsibility in your lifetime. Make each day and each moment count. Nobody said it would be easy, but they all say it was worth it!

Calea

Calea is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) through the Coaching Training Institute (CTI) who specializes in helping moms find a balance between being a mom and being themselves. She is the founder of Yummy Mummy Life where she will help you in the confidence department, offering 1 on 1 signature packages designed to make your dreams happen + goals happen. In addition, Calea is also a mom & baby fitness instructor, and an essential oil wellness advocate. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Has Juggling Time Got You Tipping The Scale?

The Coles Notes to Weight Loss Victory

When life is just too busy and stressful and has us feeling as though we have no personal time to commit to ourselves, we need to stop, sit down, and organize our daily routine. Buy an organizer and begin recording what we do, if you don’t already. Here are some helpful tips in achieving our goals:

• Setting realistic goals.
The weight did not appear overnight, so stop thinking about losing it by dawn. Be patient! Set your first major goal at losing only 10% of your current weight, aiming to lose approx. 1-2 lbs. a week.

• Cut down on fat and sugar consumption
Try to eat more protein-rich foods with a moderate low-carb intake and finish your day with a low fat intake.  Always check the ingredients list on any packages. Federal law will soon insist that all products contain nutritional value on the package.

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• Do not skip meals (if you can avoid it)
You will tend to eat more at your next meal. Your mother was right when she told you to start your day off with breakfast. Anything whole-grain and full of fiber is definitely a good choice. A healthy breakfast will give your metabolism a boost and keeps it revving throughout the day.

• To survive, do not deprive!
Do not deprive yourself of the foods you crave, instead try to moderate the amount you eat.

• Ditch those annoying low-calorie diets
In the end, you are just starving yourself of essential vitamins and minerals.

• Food cannot burn fat!
So don’t buy into those ‘miracle’ foods. They don’t exist!

• If you’ve got the munchies…
Then curb it by selecting something healthy to eat like fruits and/or veggies.

• Size up your portions!
In the time of fast food culture, it’s important to learn to say no to “Do you want the biggie size for 49 cents?” Most of the time, the fast food portions are too small anyways and it’s nothing that 49 cents can cure. Try healthier eating.

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• Variety is next to Godliness
Fill your plate with a healthy array of colourful fruits and veggies which are sure to entice anyone sitting down to eat with you.

• When on the run, think twice.
Don’t let time bully and antagonize you. Slow down when dining and consider the menu in front of you. A lot of margarines and oils go into preparing those dishes you order. Don’t be afraid to ask!

• Jump on the bandwagon!
We all need support from our friends and loved ones. Try working out with a health conscious friend or family member who is just as interested as you in keeping fit. Like-minded people add that extra little bit of motivation that you might find yourself needing in you darker times. Personal training is always a good choice, but make sure you select which trainer’s personality is right for you. Everyone is different and some are willing to push you harder and motivate you more than others!

• Eat like a cow! (Graze frequently)
What I mean is, increase the frequency of your meals to jump start your metabolism. You should be eating 5-6 times a day, balancing your carb and protein intake for each meal and try to drink two cups of water with each sitting.

• We are 80% water, so drink up!
Aim for 8-10 glasses of water a day to keep you running properly. Drinking 10 glasses a day may be hard to imagine, so at least drink two with each meal.

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Finally and most importantly, light a candle under your rear and get your bum in gear! In order to lose it you have to move it. A healthy eating plan needs a tag team partner and exercise is just the one. Together they will knock out your weight loss goals!