daycare, daycare drop-off, mother guilt, ultimate anguish

I’m terrible at quick goodbyes – I find it nigh impossible. Maybe it’s the drama queen in me – I just really struggle with short and sharp farewells. And it when it comes to my children, forget it! And so it is that I’m spectacularly bad at the twice weekly daycare drop-off.

It’s the ultimate anguish: leaving your beloved child in the arms of almost-strangers, while said child wails and howls like a banshee. It rips out your heart and the mother guilt following said drop-off is a cruel and relentless beast. And I know I’m not alone on this – many women struggle with the daycare drop-off, just as I do.

My smart, sassy little almost-three-year-old is fully aware of my struggle and has previously used it to her complete advantage. When my husband and I first put her in daycare aged 2.5, she was well and truly ready for interaction with small people. She loved daycare from day 1, but did hysterically cry/grab my legs/flail like an abandoned child at first. Thankfully, my daycare centre is fantastic and an older, firm daycare carer took me by the hand on day 1, and basically told me to “harden the f*** up”, for my child’s sake, though she didn’t use those words. You see, the more upset and emotional you are at the daycare drop-off, the worse it is for your child. So, here are my top tips for a stress-free transition:

Drop and run: Get out of there fast, sister. Don’t be the parent (i.e. me), whom the daycare workers, lovely as they are, roll their eyes at and have to usher out. It’s better for your little person not to see your upset. And she’s most likely crying crocodile tears, anyway!

Get organised: Familiarise your child with where her bag is located and where her lunch box and drink are in the fridge – this gives her a cosy confidence.

Be a detective: Being annoyingly nosey comes naturally to me, as a professional journalist; I recommend befriending another daycare mum with whom to swap notes on your centre, just to ensure your child is getting the best possible care in your absence. Caution is best. Confidence is key.

Play date: Once your little person makes some BFFs, arrange some play dates, where possible, to encourage the friendship. Nothing else makes the daycare drop-off quite so bearable as when your child squeals with glee when she sees her BFF in the playground.

Corner the young: There’s a barely 20-something at my daycare centre whom, while lovely, is unusually forthright. I corner her twice weekly for all the goss on the centre and exactly what my child has been up to. She’s got loose lips and I love it – I have happily interrogated her on everything as to who are the problem children (there’s a biter at the centre) through to how to make egg-free cakes (yes, there is such a thing) so as to cater for children with allergies.

Listen up: Above all, child psychs say to talk to your children and really, really listen. Ask them about their daycare day. Who did they play with? What did their friends have for lunch? How did their day make them feel?
Hopefully, these tips will save you some stress and heartache.

How do you cope with the dreaded daycare drop-off?

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By Nicole Carrington-Sima