For most of the H’s first year of life, my husband handled daycare drop-off. I will admit, I didn’t realize quite how awesome this was until he got a new job and daycare drop-off become my job. Most of the time, I love being a working mom, but man, some days or most days, daycare drop-off is tough. There was something about saying goodbye to H at home while he was eating breakfast with his daddy that made going to work a little easier. Dropping him off in a room full of other sometimes crying children is not easy. But after several months of being solely responsible for drop-off, I have come up with a few tips to make the process so much easier and keep me from driving to work crying and dreading my day.
- Plan ahead and leave enough time to say hello to the teacher. I have made it a point to get to know his daycare teacher and ensure I leave at least a few minutes in the morning to check-in, say hi, and catch up. Sometimes we talk about daycare, but oftentimes we just talk about life or the mornings we have had. Our conversations are never long as I know she is responsible for watching the other children in the room, but I make it a point to do more than just drop and run. This has made leaving H there so much easier because I adore his teacher. She is excellent with her kiddos and loves them like her own. It allows me to leave some of the guilt about being a working mom at the door because she is teaching him sign language, Japanese, and all sorts of fine and gross motor skills I know nothing about. There is a long list of reasons why I work in corporate America and not in a classroom. I have major respect for teachers because I tried it one year and found out it was not for me. If your little one often cries when you leave, talk to the teacher about what happens after you leave. Often I bet your little one is perfectly fine by the time you are out of sight and this can be reassuring if you do have to leave them in tears.
- Reassure, reassure, reassure. Perhaps this is just as much for me as it is for H, but I make sure I give him a hug and kiss and tell him I will be back to get him. I encourage him to go read books with his buddies or find a toy he really likes. I make sure he is occupied and knows mama will be back. I try not to tell him I will miss him, but instead tell him I love him. According to Today, keeping your goodbyes upbeat (even if you are a little sad too) will help the child feel safe and secure. I want H to know it’s okay for him to be at daycare and that he is safe and taken care of even if I am a little sad to leave him there some days.
- Focus on the positives. This has perhaps been the most helpful for me. You can find bemoaning working moms and stay-at-moms all over the internet. And it’s easier to look at the grass and assume its greener on the other side. But spending all your time focusing on what you wish were true about life won’t make the reality of life any different and will heap a lot of guilt and frustration on you. I remind myself how social H is, how much he is learning, and despite being at daycare, that I am still one of his favorite people. He is thriving and making friends. The other week we were in the middle of the grocery store when he yelled out hello to a friend from his daycare. My heart almost melted. I also feel very called to my work and know I am the best mom I can be when I am operating out of this calling. It is always easy-of course not, but I try to focus on all the good things instead of wishing I was in someone else’s yard.
- Create a routine. I am big on routines. Perhaps because I love them, but also because I believe they really help kids. H and I have both evening and morning routines. We do almost the same thing Monday-Friday so he knows what to expect. I try really hard not to do things different or try new ideas during the week. This may get a little boring, but he doesn’t seem to mind eating the same thing for breakfast everyday and following the same schedule. It also helps me not be so frazzled and allows me an extra few minutes if he wants to read a book or watch the “quack-quacks” outside. Everyday as we leave, we say bye-bye to the dog and I always remind him we are going to see his teacher and friends. The routine also helps me leave enough time to have a few minutes at daycare to touch base with his teacher and say hello before heading to work.
What are your tips for doing daycare drop-off like a pro? How have you made the transition easier? Let me know in the comments!