6 tips to help parents reduce stress on child care days

May 21, 2020


Getting yourself and your children ready and out the door in the morning can seem like a monumental task. There are specific things that need to happen and you’ve also got the pressure of a time constraint to make it harder.

But with a little forward planning you can reduce the stress on child care days, allowing you to walk out the door without losing your temper (or a shoe).

It seems that the more you suggest that your child hurries up the more they put the brakes on. So get ahead by following these simple tips.

1. Pack as much as you can the night before

We get it, this is hard to implement if you’re not used to it, but this tip is going to be a game changer for your morning routine.

What you need to take to work and what your child needs in their bag for child care don’t really change too much day to day. So pack up your bag and theirs before you go to bed.  Fill water bottles, find missing hats, sign the notes and get yourself ready to roll.

Some parents swear by preparing the lunchbox the night before too, while others prefer to do that in the morning. Find what works for you – it might be a combination where you add the crackers and muffin to the lunchbox at night, then add the freshly made sandwich and chopped fruit in the morning. If your centre provides all of your child’s meals and snacks – lucky you!

2. Make breakfast the night before

7am is not the time to be making pancakes or frying eggs. When everyone needs to be out on time, keep breakfast simple. Even better, try to prepare as much of your breakfast as you can the night before. 

This might mean you make some overnight oats or chia puddings and keep them in the fridge to eat in the morning. Fill the kettle or set the coffee pot up so that it’s ready to go (very important). Even if you just place the cereal box on the bench, this will make the morning run more smoothly.

3. Set yours and your child’s clothes out

Are you noticing a theme here? Night time is your time to shine if you want hassle free mornings. So pull out their child care clothes, shoes and socks, and set them up where they can see them in the morning. If you have a child that likes to have a say in what they wear, this is the time to discuss whether they wear a red shirt or a blue shirt (not at 7.30am when everyone is feeling the time pressure).

4. Plan to leave earlier than you need to 

With kids in the mix, nothing is guaranteed. All it takes is a dropped bowl of WeetBix or a dog that has escaped the yard, and your morning time schedule is out the window.

Get ahead of the game and expect the unexpected. If you know you need to leave the house by 8am to get where you need to go, change your goal to 7.45am. 

This gives you a little buffer to find the dog, clean up the cereal and get in the car without the rush-rush-rush that children find so stressful. If you arrive with a little time up your sleeve, you can have more time for cuddles and catch ups about everyone’s day.

Harriet is a child care educator and notices that the children who arrive early tend to seem less frazzled. ‘I find that the children coming in the door late seem a bit stressed as they’ve not had the time to transition from home to child care at their own pace,’ she explains. 

‘Parents that can get in early and settle their kids for the day when it’s not too busy or loud tend to have fewer meltdowns to deal with, on the whole.’

5. Use a goal to stay on track

Depending how much time you have in the morning, you could let the children know that there is no TV / tickling / dog cuddles / colouring in until they are completely ready. 

This little incentive can really help them to stay on task. Some families find a check list is helpful, but this really depends on your own children. 

Find what works for you, and stick with it. 

6. Get enough sleep

Easier said than done, right? But getting up in the morning having had a good night’s sleep is going to put everyone in a better mood. 

This might mean that you need to adjust the bedtime routine to ensure that the younger members of your family are getting enough rest.

Child care educator Harriet shares that an overtired child is less likely to be in a good mood or participate in the centre’s activities. ‘If a child hasn’t had enough sleep, they’ll often be quite emotional. Sharing and listening won’t come as easily to them. A good night’s sleep makes a big difference to a child’s day.’

For you, it could mean giving yourself a specific time that you’ll try to be in bed to ensure adequate sleep for you as well.

Mornings are always going to be a little chaotic with children in the mix, but these tips can hopefully reduce stress and get everyone out the door on time. 



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Toddle is the most comprehensive child care finder in Australia, on a mission to make parents’ lives easier.