The 6pm daycare pickup is an unavoidable reality for many working parents.
When you have young kids with a 7:30pm bedtime, the nighttime routine must be done and dusted in about an hour and a half.
Even on good days it can feel that between work and home, you just never stop working/wondering if you’ve got all your ducks in a row.
With all of this on your shoulders, how do you bring your best self home to your kids and make sure that the time you spend together is also quality?
Kinderling’s Mothercraft nurse Chris Minogue has the answers.
“Start with the practical things,” Chris told Kinderling. “The only thing your child REALLY needs at the end of a long day in care is your full attention.”
1. Switch off your phone
As soon as you get to daycare, switch off your devices and leave them off until they go to bed – and be really tough with yourself about this. Most things can wait until they’re asleep.
Make sure the first thing you do when you walk in the door is sit down and play with your little one for at least 15-20 minutes - BEFORE you do anything else. If you feel really pushed for time, you can do this in the bath - and for extra points, get in the bath with them!
3. Eat simply: Think lunch rather than dinner
Remember that most daycare centres provide lots of food throughout the day and a hot meal at lunchtime. If you provide your child's food at your daycare, then pack a good hearty meal for lunch and plenty of snacks. This means your child won’t really want much food later, especially after 6pm. Make them a simple sandwich for dinner, or egg on toast.
4. Take things really slow
Daycare is a big deal for little people. They’ve had to be busy and good all day, so when they get home it’s normal for them to act out a little bit. They often sleep less at daycare too, so it’s likely they’ll be overtired. Keep your responses warm and encouraging, and try tp be as slow and mindful as possible.
5. Aim for one short day a week (more if possible)
The ideal scenario would be for parents to share the drop-off and pick-up – one at each end. This hopefully allows for the shortest day possible for your little one. Another way to do this is to speak with your employer about finishing work one day a week earlier, so at least the week is broken up a little bit.
6. Make weekends sacrosanct
So much of the stress of modern life is because we are blurring family time with a mad dash to get things done around the house. Devote time during the week to ticking off the household tasks, so the weekends can be free just for your kids and family time.
7. Motto for challenging days
We all have days where life can feel brutally overwhelming. On days like these, remind yourself that consistency is what matters. Kids can cope with anything when they have security and a loving environment. At the end of the day, they just care that you are there.
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