Daycare drop-off can be a teary-eyed ordeal for parents and kids. The tears, tantrums, clingy to mom or dad, and screaming can be painful for parents to watch. The guilt is heart-wrenching, but there are ways that you can make it easier for everyone. We asked several daycare providers their top tips for a smoother drop-off. The consensus, keep it short and sweet. Here are five tips to keep the dreaded drop-off as smooth as possible
Prepare the night before.
Don’t rush! Do as much as you can the night before; rushing kids overstimulates them and increases their stress hormones, which leads to tantrums. Be prepared the night before, so you’re not rushing your kids and creating a stressful morning for everyone.
Stick to a routine.
Babies and toddlers do better when they know what to expect. Keeping a routine means knowing what steps are coming and feeling less anxious about what’s coming. So from the morning breakfast and dressing to getting in the car, keeping the sequence the same.
Keep it quick.
Don’t linger! Even if your baby cries, shrieks, and reaches out for you with that desperate look in their eyes. Just keep walking, it feels painful, but it’s better for them in the long run. Your early childhood educators will often say they were fine within minutes of leaving. If you linger, you give them hope that maybe they don’t need to stay, but of course, they do- so you’re sending mixed messages which makes the goodbye harder.
Find a special ritual.
Have a drop-off ritual (hang jacket and bag, change shoes, hug, pass off to daycare worker, a quick kiss, and off you go).
Don’t skip out
Always make sure you say goodbye. It can be tempting (especially when you think you may cry!) to slip out without them noticing. Once they realize you’ve gone, they’ll be sad and left without any reassurance that you’ll be back. Always say goodbye and that you’ll be back later.
Remember that babies, toddlers, and kids need time to process. They want to know what’s happening and what comes next. Routine and ritual reassure them that you’ll return like you did the day before. Keeping to a daycare morning routine with a confident and quick goodbye will allow everyone to ease into the transition quicker.
Many early childhood educators also noted that the first week will be rough but usually gets better by the end of the week. The second week- that’s the worst, and it’s common. Once kids realize this is their new normal, they get sad about it again. But it passes, and soon you’ll be dropping them off, and they won’t even look back at you (and then you’ll cry again for a different reason, lol isn’t parenting fun!?)
Lastly, on the first day of drop-off, give yourself a few hours in the morning if you can. You’ll likely feel emotional (often wrought with guilt and happy about a small taste of freedom- which leads to more guilt for feeling that… and so on). So if you can have a few hours before heading to work- take your puffy eyes to the coffee shop and take some time to yourself to feel proud, reflect and gather yourself before starting work.
You got this, mama!