Sending your first child to daycare can be a daunting prospect. But as many other mums will tell you, it can be such a great way to give yourself back some all important ‘me time’ by allowing you time to focus on a fitness routine, get the house back into a little bit of order, and perhaps contemplate returning to work if you’re interested.

Children thrive on making connections with other children and caregivers. Let them. They also LOVE making things, playing and generally being active with their friends, which in turn makes them tired. So let them sleep! And enjoy yourself while they sleep!

Often, we find that our Mums, Dads and caregivers of babies in the Koala room mention that their children sleep better after their action packed day at Columba Cottage. They are also pleasantly surprised (and often a little jealous) that their children will fall asleep easier at nap times for our educators than they do at home. This can be due to a whole host of reasons, but often when their strongest connection (for example, Mum) is taking care of them they learn to expect lengthy cuddles resulting in a longer bedtime routine. Our educators follow simple, straightforward naptime routines, and we find that the babies will expect a few simple things before gently nodding off to sleep. We advise packing a sleep cue (often a teddy/lovey), a dummy and a sleeping bag. Often just the routine of gathering all of these things and then walking into the dark room with our white noise and lullaby playing will tell them that it is sleeptime.

Dropping naps

When your child transitions from three naps a day to two naps, or two naps to one, or drops their naps completely, there can be a lot of trial and error involved. Often, caregivers find that having daycare set a precedent for a new routine can be quite successful, depending on the child. In our baby rooms we follow your home nap and mealtime schedules, and we can also adjust naptimes to suit the transition to less naps. We monitor how long each baby has slept for and can provide a detailed rundown at the end of the day, including the time that the baby went down for a nap and when they woke, so that you’re aware of how long bub has been awake for your afternoon/nighttime plans.

Sleep when the baby sleeps – yeah right!

So many people tell new mums to sleep when the baby sleeps. But they don’t remember back to when they had loads of washing, groceries, bills and no time at all to keep up with friends and enjoy hobbies and exercise. At Columba Cottage we open at 6:30am and close at 6pm. This means that you can enjoy some ‘me time’ in your day to free up time so that you can really enjoy the time when you and your child are together.

Some other tips that new mums may find useful in the early years:

Shop online or click’n’collect your groceries and coffee.

Grocery shopping with babies is never easy. Have your groceries delivered, or click and collect them. We’re right next door to Lake Innes Shopping Centre. Mums tell me that if you order your coffee on the cafe app when you leave the centre, it will be ready by the time you get to the cafe. 

Time when the dishwasher and washing machine will finish.

Some appliances have a ‘Delay start’ function so that you can time when you’ll take the clothes/dishes out of your machine (power is often cheaper at night/and before 7am), and you can hang out your freshly washed clothes at a more convenient time. 

Set and forget about your bills.

Set up direct debits to pay regular bills in advance so that you don’t have to spend valuable time catching up on the bills. This can be a great way to budget also.

Make the most of mothers and fathers groups.

The people that you meet at parents groups will have children that your children will most likely get to know and possibly go through their school life with. They are also experiencing the same challenges as you but can offer an exposure to alternative ways of parenting which can be great to understand (even if you don’t necessarily agree with them). We run a parents group for currently enrolled Columba Cottage families which is becoming an increasingly popular monthly event. It’s also a great way for parents that are new to Port Macquarie to meet people in town.


Align your appointments with your friends appointments so that they can look after yours and their children while you have your haircut, or go to the gym, and you can then look after their children with yours while they go to their appointment. If your appointment is at an inconvenient time, you can always check if there are any casual days available at Columba Cottage if you already attend.


About the author: All round go-getter, Susanna Christie, is the Executive Director of Columba Cottage Early Learning Centre, where she leads a passionate team of 50 staff who love what they do, caring for children ranging in age from 6 weeks to 6 years. With a background in teaching from pre-school through to university, Susanna is passionate about all aspects of child development and wellbeing. Her qualifications include a Masters in Education, Bachelor of Teaching and a Graduate Diploma in Educational Studies. Susanna’s aim is to ensure that Columba Cottage remains the best Early Learning Centre on the Mid North Coast.