Well, she did it! Taylor survived her first week as a Kindy girl. Just as I suspected, day 1 was very exciting for her until it came time for me to leave… at which point she became very nervous and clung on to me for dear life. I trusted the educators and was guided by them, because I too am new to this. Not going to lie, I cried walking away from her as she stood at the gate begging for me to come back. Then I regained composure. And then I cried again… approx 20 minutes later…. Here’s the rundown on Taylor’s transition to Kindy.
Thanks to trusty face masks (and a mother’s strength HA), Taylor could not sense at all that I was feeling a little nervous on the inside. I was upbeat, happy, excited, showing her all the cool things at her Kindy and letting her walk me around. I stayed for about half an hour on her first day – about the same as all the other parents there. When I realised she was calm and happy, the educators and I decided it was time to say bye. So we walked to the front gate together and this is when she clung to me. I literally had to pull her arms away from around my neck, and that’s a pretty shitty feeling. We had explained to the educators that Taylor had never done child care and that we were anxious about her transition, so she was already aware that this may take some practice. I told Taylor that I loved her and that I’d see her very soon when I pick her up with pink donuts (as per her request for being so brave on her first day). I knew that having something to look forward to in addition to me picking her up, was that there were baked, sugary goods involved.
After I waved good bye, I drove off and enjoyed my day. LOL, jokes. I did not do that… Not right away anyway. I sat in front of the kindy where she couldn’t see me, so that I could hear when she settled in (i.e. stopped crying). It took 20 minutes. 20 long minutes of hearing my daughter cry for me at the front gate. When it finally went quiet, I did a quick drive-by, and could see her standing there with the educator who had by now, made herself comfortable on the ground beside Taylor. Bless her, that wonderful woman. For not leaving Taylor even after 20 minutes of cries. For taking the time to build trust with her when she was feeling scared, anxious, nervous and overwhelmed. I parked around the side because I decided I wanted to stay until I saw that she wasn’t standing at the front gate anymore. Perhaps I thought it would give me some reassurance that she would be happy there, and that she wouldn’t just be standing at the gate waiting for me all day.
After a few more minutes I decided to ring the Kindy and check how she was… because I had a 10.30 sports class with Brodie (who I still had to collect from my mother in laws house) and well, I couldn’t hang around all day. But I couldn’t leave until I knew she was ok either… One of the educators answered and told me it took a while, but that Taylor was now happy on the couch reading with one of the educators. Some relief, but I had to see for myself that she wasn’t at the gate… So I drove past again (keep in mind that I was still parked right near the kindy – I didn’t drive back from home or anything… not that this makes me any less of a helicopter mum HA). I saw the gate was empty – Taylor was nowhere to be seen. INSTANT RELIEF AND A BUNCH OF TEARS. Yep, I cried. Bloody sook or what? I was v relieved that she was clearly gaining trust and feeling safe, and knew I could now leave and get on with my day.
To make things easier on day 2, I did a few things.. Firstly, I drew a small love heart on Taylor’s hand and mine, and I told her that if she misses mummy today, to press on the heart and I will feel it. She LOVED this. I think she felt like I was always with her and/or not far away. Which gave her reassurance (when I picked her up, this was almost rubbed off completely, so I knew she had been missing me). I also talked to her about kindy all weekend long (her first day was a Friday due to C0vid). I asked her to paint me some pictures, make me a butterfly, show the educators how to play this game and that… etc. I gave her tasks and got her thinking about the fun things Kindy had to offer, rather than how daunting it was when I left. Day 2 drop off was a huge SUCCESS. No tears, no worries. We made sure to grab the same educator who sat with her on day 1, they followed me to the gate, had a big cuddle and kiss, gave a hi-5 at the gate and reminded her I’d be back soon to pick her up (and to press the heart when she misses me).
Taylor’s transition to Kindy so far has been an emotional rollercoaster. We know there will still be anxious/nervous/sad goodbyes to come, because she is four years old and this is a massive transition for Taylor. But we are so gosh darn proud of that little lady. What a boss. Way to take something you were so anxious about in your stride.
We aren’t experts, but if you or your little one does feel super anxious about their transition to Kindy (or prep, school or whatever!) maybe you could try the little love heart or hi-5 routine. It won’t work for everyone. Some people will think it’s silly and that’s fine! We would do a lot of things differently if we cared about what other people thought – but we just don’t! We prioritise our children and their feelings and roll with it.
I hope that anyone else with little ones transitioning into kindy/prep/school had a nice (or at least not horrible) start. It’s a big step. We’ve got this!