It seems like it’s been a long time coming, but we are finally returning to normal everyday life. You might be catching up with friends at the park, going to the zoo or even returning to Child’s Play. This time period has been very emotional, exhausting and scary for all of us. As parents, we never thought we would have to navigate a pandemic yet alone with curious young children.
As we return to more normal practices, it is important to remember that our children will be just as anxious as we are.
At Child’s Play, we have seen lots of children nervous to return to childcare, and that’s why we have introduced morning meditations. We want to help children feel calmer and channel their nervous feelings into positive energy. We also want to reassure you that it is normal for our children to regress temporarily in development as a natural response to new challenges. There are ways we can make them feel more comfortable, including talking to your child about returning to childcare.
Talking with our children
Step 1. Normalise their feelings
It is common to feel anxious after a long time away, so the first step is recognising and normalising these feelings. One of the ways we can do this is by asking them how they are feeling and sympathising with them. It opens the conversation and makes them feel heard.
Some common questions you may come across when discussing returning to childcare are:
- What will childcare be like?
- Will my friends still be there?
- Is everyone being safe like us?
Step 2. Stay positive
Experts recommend keeping the conversation thoughtful yet positive and encouraging their questions about the lockdown, childcare and the pandemic. While they might be reluctant to return to childcare or wonder why they had to stay home, explain in your own way that the return to normal life is a positive thing for the world and people around them.
When answering their questions, validate their concerns and answer honestly. Some ways you can do this is by reminding them that everyone is in the same boat going back to childcare. If you don’t know if their friends will still be in the same room maybe say “we will see when we get to Child’s Play” and always remember to encourage them to make new friends too.
Step 3. Continue to use age-appropriate information
It is easy for our children to get overwhelmed with information that is foreign to them. We can reduce their stress by using simple, easy to understand language. Explain that everyone has been working very hard to stay safe and that there might be some changes at childcare but everything is going to be ok.
Step 4. Provide support first
We know how tempting it is to try and create a solution so your child can simply be happy. When discussing post-COVID times it is not about finding solutions but giving your child a hug and telling them that it is going to be okay. Listening to your child and providing thoughtful commentary and asking questions may actually reassure them, without you needing to provide false reassurance.
Step 5. Plan activities to get back into the swing of things
Talking with our children is great but sometimes actions speak louder than words. Encouraging them to participate in activities they enjoyed pre-COVID can sometimes be the best way to show them everything is going back to normal. Start slowly with one activity a week. They can be anything such as going to the park with their friends, enjoying a day at the beach or planning a small barbeque at your house with family. These activities will reduce their nerves and help them feel calmer about coming back to play and learn at Child’s Play ELC.
Transitioning to childcare can be hard enough, but having to transition back after spending all this time at home can be just as overwhelming as the first time. Some children will have moved rooms and may not know the educators or may not have very many friends. It’s important that we treat this time just like the first time and that we provide them with lots of care and love. Talk to them about what they are looking forward to and make time for them after childcare. It’s important as parents that we check in with them regularly and make sure they are ok.
It is also normal for you to feel cautious about coming back to childcare, particularly if you have been working from home with your child. But rest assured we want the best for all of our families and we will help you with the transition as well. Our educators will be in constant communication to tell you how they are doing using the Owna app. If you have any further queries about returning to or starting childcare post-COVID, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.