The dreaded daycare drop-off can be a nightmare for moms. First it’s the morning routine where something inevitably goes wrong; spilled milk, lost shoes, getting everyone out the door, etc. Then once you get to daycare, your loving toddler has your leg in a vise grip. When you do finally free said leg and head for the door, there are cries of desperation and abandonment from your little person. Of course, this is all happening when you are already 15 minutes late because of the aforementioned lost shoes or spilled milk.
What if drop-offs didn’t have to be so rough?
I dealt with daycare drop-off drama with Sophia for many weeks. The gut wrenching cries that came from my tiny person every time I had to drop her off at daycare were the worst. There were definitely a few times where I cried on my way to work. I was determined to find a solution fast. She is now in the 2’s classroom and drop-offs are really easy now. Here are my top 5 tips for an easy daycare drop-off.
*In our house we call daycare, school. So for the purposes of this post, school refers to daycare.
5 tips for an easy daycare drop-off
1. Talk frequently about daycare before and after drop-off.
From the moment Sophie wakes up, we are talking about school. I ask her what she wants to wear to school and remind her that she will play outside so she needs comfy clothes.
She has a small breakfast at home and will eat breakfast at school. So we talk about what she might eat at school.
Once in the car, we talk about what she might do during the day and I reassure her that she is going to have so much fun! I ask her what she wants to do during the day like color or build a tower with blocks.
When I pick her up in the afternoon, I ask her what she did during the day. Bonus for us: Sophie’s school uses a system that allows her teacher to send us updates and photos throughout the day. I already know what she did that day, so this gives me a conversation starter with you.
On this particular day, her class was making dinosaurs with the letter ‘D’. In the car ride on the way home, we talked about dinosaurs and how much fun she must have had.
Basically, you are aiming to get your child thinking about school first thing in the morning. This gives them lots of time to mentally prepare to head to school each day. You are allow reassuring them that they are going to have SO much fun! If you are excited about school, they will be too!
2. Give lots of warnings.
Toddlers live in the moment. So telling Sophie it’s a school day first thing in the morning is her first warning that she will be heading to school soon. When it’s time to find shoes, she get’s another warning. It usually goes something like this – “Find shoes kiddo, it’s time to leave for school in 2 minutes.”
Her next warning comes when we arrive at school and I tell her that she is going to stay at school while mommy goes to work.
Her final warning is when I’m getting ready to leave. I tell her that mommy has to leave and go to work in 2 minutes.
This all seemed like a lot for me each day but she responded really well. After about a week, I didn’t have to get all these warnings. These days we make a little game out of our car time together. I ask her: what time is it? (in a very sing-song voice) and she replies with: it’s time for school!
Giving your child numerous warnings reminds them they are heading to school and will hopefully allow them to get used to the idea.
3. Plan extra time to get your child settled in.
While we were working through Sophie’s separation anxiety, I had to plan for an extra 5-10 minutes each morning just to ensure I had enough time to get her settled in at school. With my work schedule, we have to get Sophie to school at 6:30. When we get there all the kids are together regardless of age and they have free time. To get Sophie settled in, I ask her what she wants to play with. Some days she just wants to lay down on a pillow with a blanket and other days she wants to color.
Take the time to find an activity that your child is interested in or take a few minutes to join in on what the teacher already has the other kids doing. This will give them a chance to become part of the classroom community for the day and your presence will reassure them.
4. DO NOT just leave/disappear.
I think this has been most important to our success and the cause of our issue from the start. There was one teacher who suggested I let her hold Sophie while I left regardless of the crying. I went along with this thinking it was the best option. We ended up leaving that school and going to her current school where I implemented these tips.
I decided I felt more comfortable taking time to get her settled in, reassure her, then let her know I was leaving. There were a couple of times where she still cried and it was still rough but for the most part, each day got a little better.
Now when I tell her I’m leaving she just says “ok, mommy. bye, mommy”
Disappearing when your child isn’t looking makes them fear that you will disappear at any minute and they won’t let you out of their sight because of that fear.
5. Create a special goodbye between you and your child.
Creating a special goodbye is sort of a warning and a routine. For Sophie and I, this was blowing a kiss to each other as I walked out the door. She came to look for this special moment each day and it was a final moment of affection between us.
Your special moment can be blowing a kiss, a high five, eskimo kisses, or whatever you and your child think up. The more fun this moment is for your child, the more ok they will be with it happening.
These worked so well for us! Having an easy daycare drop-off makes for a happy mama and toddler!
Give these a daycare drop-off tips a try and let me know how they worked for you!
Do you have any other tips that worked really well for daycare drop-offs?
Leave a comment below and let me know!