Oh the dreaded daycare drop off. One minute, they’re just little babies who are fine being loved on by whoever is providing their food. The next, they are toddlers with personalities and preferences who have learned how to say, “No!”
I love this stage. My little is learning new words and how to do new things daily. I love watching him play with his friends and give hugs and greetings and goodbyes like a champ.
But the one goodbye we’re struggling with is telling mama goodbye at daycare. It has become this terrible routine of the sweet teachers and I trying to loosen his death grip long enough to just get me out of the door. He’s crying, I’m on the verge, and it is just such an unpleasant way to begin our day.
And I know, because I’ve heard it from at least a thousand people, that he’s fine once I leave, that I should just leave him and not worry, and that he’ll grow out of it.
But … there must be a better way, right?!
It used to be food. Our morning drop-off used to perfectly coincide with breakfast, so he was all set as soon as he saw his food (I also forget all other obligations/problems when I see food … he’s a lot like me, this kid). But a recent job change for me means we arrive earlier than breakfast and before his favorite teacher gets there (he calls her Mommy too, but we’ll save my big feelings about that for another blog post).
I reached out to some other mamas and got great advice on how to make these goodbyes a little easier. We are on week 3 of easy peasy drop offs. Here’s what we’re doing to eliminate those terrible tears.
My child apparently has a favorite truck in his classroom, and this magical toy has been the key to a happy morning. It’s a game: Where is the truck? He searches, he finds, he gets rolling. Loves that truck. And I love he finds something he enjoys to occupy his time first thing.
Find a Friend
He also loves his friends. So much so that he tells me their names a few times a week. If I can pry his little koala-gripped self from me and put him on task with a friend, we have a smoother morning.
Find a Small Bit of Extra Time
I haven’t changed our schedule a bit, but prolonging my stay in his classroom for literally 1-2 minutes has made a huge difference. It’s that extra time to give one more hug while surveying the room for what I can help him get into before I leave.
Find a Routine
Bathtime routine, bedtime routine, drop-off routine. I usually say the same thing every morning, give a big hug, and then we’re finding our activity. Nothing strict, but something he can anticipate and understand
Find a Confidant
There may still be rough mornings, and that mom guilt is relentless and real. Find someone to talk you out of YOUR tears and know that we’ve all been through it, and it will get better.
It is true what they say. It likely is a phase, your child IS fine once you leave, and the teachers and caregivers have seen this a million times and know just what to do. But all those words don’t mean a whole lot when your almost 2-year-old is chasing you out the door crying. Maybe I just need to toughen up, but for now, I’m thankful for a network of more experienced mamas helping make our mornings more pleasant.