Check out Part 1 – Tips on how to prepare for preschool if you haven’t read it yet!
First, as your child adjusts to this new life as a preschooler, don’t over schedule yourself during the first month! If you are stressed with your schedule your child will also feel this along with needed extra time during this adjustment. The first two weeks will be a time of adjusting and learning new routines. Be sure to give yourself and your child time and patience to adapt. Be ready for some early pick-ups, if needed. Then be ready for your child to get sick soon after they begin…you just get back to work and then you are home with a sick kid. Welcome to preschool life! For some tips to help reduce sickness you can read more about how sickness spreads here.
Many kids will sleep worse after starting preschool; if this happens you aren’t alone! Often parents tell me that the first two weeks were pretty easy but after that their child didn’t sleep well and became extremely cranky. Making adjustments for a short time is like going on vacation – you can deal with the new schedule, but then you’re ready to get back to normal after about two weeks; except this is the new normal.
It’s not uncommon for sleep to get worse because your child is experiencing new environments, new people, different food, a new napping place, and learning how to be away from you. It’s a lot to handle for a little kiddo! You might notice that your child will be sleepier but have a harder time sleeping, they might wake up more often, have more dreams or be upset by dreams, be sad, have anxiety, eat less, or seem unhappy. Be sure to give lots of extra hugs and allow for some extra time for bedtime. This is all really normal! Think about when you last made a new change; you probably also felt a little cranky after a week, or slept worse, ate more or less. Going through change is not any different for you and your child.
If you are seeing that your child is tired before their normal bedtime, make bedtime 20 to 30 minutes earlier. You may need to make time for a few more snuggles or an extra book. It’s not uncommon for kiddos to regress with sleep during times of change.
Now, what about you?
Adapting to life with a preschooler will bring many emotions. Happy, sad, confused, a sense of freedom, or need to cry? Acknowledge your feelings as it’s o.k. to feel anything right now! Think about how much your life has changed in less than two years. Everyone is going to have emotions from these huge changes and there’s no right or wrong feeling. I remember feeling happy to get back to work (I really love to work) but of course sad that my baby was growing up.
Don’t be surprised if one parent has an easier or harder time dropping off your child either. This goes both directions; you child may be sadder with one parent, or you might have a harder time dropping your child off or your child may be more upset with one parent than the other. Just know that it’s o.k. to feel sad, happy, relived, or worried. There’s no right or wrong way to feel.
Hopefully these tips help you and your child adapt to preschool life. The best part about these tips is that you can apply them to any new changes or at any age. Developing a foundation to handle change builds trust and a strong bond with you and your child.