My youngest was just about 16 months when I enrolled her in a Mother’s Day Out program through our church. I was so excited for her to spend some time with a group of little ones around her age. And I was very much looking forward to having a few hours a week to myself. I didn’t think there was too much she would need, or I would need to do before that first day. But as I found out at Meet The Teacher day…I was mistaken.
Before you step foot in the door to meet your little one’s smiling new teacher, here are a few things you might want to tackle over the next few weeks:
Have you filled out all your forms? You will need to provide current shot record and a health form to the school/MDO Program. If your pediatrician is like mine, they usually need about 48 hours to turn this around. So make sure you do this before the first day of school. The program will also send paperwork over the summer which includes info sheets about your child.
You will need a nap mat, a lunch box and a backpack or tote bag. You will need to label everything, so I also recommend dishwasher proof labels. Just stick one on every item you send with your child.
There are endless options for napmats, ranging from basic to frilly, monogrammed and custom made, but my biggest piece of advice is to get one that is machine washable. I also found that napmats weren’t quite as easy to trackdown the weekend before most MDOs start (remember, I was doing this super last minute), so I recommend getting a head start and ordering/purchasing one this summer.
Packing A Lunch
I recommend an insulated lunchbag with a reusable cold pack. I haven’t come across an MDO program that allows peanut butter yet, so be sure to check ahead of time regarding any food restrictions. Our program was completely nut free.
When packing their little lunch, try to pack things you know your child will eat. I like a Bento style container that I can fill with finger foods, that way there’s only one container to open (and on the flip-side, one container for me to wash).
Things I knew my daughter could and would eat on her own: cold tri-color noodles, cheese cubes, a squeeze pack of fruit/veggies and sliced grapes. My daughter has since graduated to eating a pretty normal lunch on her own. Be sure to cut choking hazards, like grapes, into smaller bites. Everything should be very kid-friendly. Aside from opening the lunchbag, the teacher should not need to hand-feed items.
What Goes In The Backpack
I’ll say it again, label everything. I still like to use gallon storage bags labeled with my child’s name (this was actually a requirement at her program). Storage Bag 1: Diapers and wipes. Storage Bag 2: Complete change of clothes. That’s it in the backpack! The teacher will use the backpack to send home artwork or paperwork each week.
What to Wear
Playclothes and closed-toe shoes. Our school is quite strict on the closed-toe thing, especially now that they are spending more time on an outdoor playground. Aside from dressing them in a cute outfit for a First Day Photo, I wouldn’t recommend sending your little one in anything you would be devastated if it were to get ruined. Think: playclothes.
They will paint, play outside, play on the ground, feed themselves, and toddlers are not known for their general tidiness. So maybe save that boutique, smocked, holiday, super-special something or other for a non-MDO day.
Be sure to take a photo on the first and last day. You will be so amazed, and if you’re like me, will probably tear up a minute when you see how much they have grown and changed from the First Day to the Last Day.
Make Plans for Yourself
When I dropped her off for the first time, I had the sniffles all the way to the car. But then I realized…I had 5 kid-free hours to do with what I pleased. Sometimes that involved lots of Mommy-Errands. And sometimes that meant making a giant iced tea and doing nothing at all.