A tearful morning drop off at daycare is one of the worst ways to start a weekday. No matter how much fun she looks like she’s having when you pick her up at the end of the day, those 7am screams of abandonment are remarkably convincing.
After two kids, eight years and five various childcare providers, I’ve picked up a few tips to make dropping your kids off at daycare less traumatic for everyone.
Find quality time in your morning routine. The rush and chaos of getting a family dressed, fed and out the door is stressful for everyone and can put your child on edge. Take a moment to break the tension for both of you and they’ll start the day in a more cooperative mood. Try sitting down to breakfast together, or turning off the radio and having a chat on the drive to daycare. (I’m much more likely to find quality time with my daughter in the car after her brother has gone to school.)
Establish a drop off routine. In the same way that nightly routines tell your child what to expect at bed time, setting a morning schedule can reduce daycare meltdowns. Sign in and put away coats and lunch boxes in the same order every morning and you’ll both be better prepared for the upcoming separation.
Walk all the way into the room. Different child care providers might have different procedures, but if possible try bringing your child all the way into their classroom instead of saying good bye at the door. Your departure becomes less about saying goodbye and more about the toys and friends waiting to be played with.
Make a quick exit. A hug, kiss and cheerful goodbye and then be on your way. When you set the tone that this is not a big deal, they’re likely to follow your lead. If there are tears, avoid hanging around and making a fuss. Your childcare provider will likely confirm for you later in the day that your son or daughter is just fine as soon as you’re out of sight. (And if they don’t, it’s probably time to dig deeper to find out why.)
With a little planning and attention to small details, everyone can benefit from a tear free start to the day.