Dropping off your kids for daycare should not be a difficult task. But for dads, it may seem like the impossible. Typically my wife is the one to drop off the kids because they go to daycare near where she works.
But what happens if mom is sick? Or maybe mom has to go out of town for work. Kids still need to go to daycare. Dad to the rescue it is.
But it’s not that easy. Kids sense the change. They don’t like the change. They resist and fight and scream and throw a tantrum.
This is no fun for anyone especially poor dad who was just trying to help out.
But there is hope. There are certain steps you can take to have a successful daycare drop-off.
Preparation the night before
The first thing that will make every day start out better is a good night’s sleep. And the best way to manage that is to have a consistent bedtime. It gets tough sometimes with crazy schedules but do your best to make sure that the kids get to bed at the same time to help them with a night of restful sleep.
Routine before bed
Another pro tip for helping your kid get a good night’s sleep and starting the next day off on the right foot is to establish a helpful routine before bed. Whether it is singing a song before bed or reading them a bible story just keep it consistent and calm so they can lay down and get to sleep fast.
Lay out clothes for the next day
To ease the process for yourself in the morning make sure you lay out what clothes your kids are going to wear. Have a designated spot so you can dress them (or help them get dressed). It might be in the bathroom or in their bedroom just make sure you have them ready so you are not scrambling to figure out what they need to wear early in the morning.
Get anything needed for daycare ready
Is the next day a water day? Will they need sunscreen and a towel and a change of clothes? Or maybe it is the first day of the week so you have to send a pillow and blanket for nap time. All of these things are questions you need to know.
More than likely as a dad you may not be the one who normally drops off. Make sure and ask mom or if appropriate text the teacher from the daycare if there is anything special going on the next day that they would need to bring. Then make sure you have it all ready and sitting by your keys so you don’t forget.
Establish a consistent morning routine
Watch TV or not
We have a bad habit of letting our little ones watch some TV while they eat and get ready. Honestly, this doesn’t work out well. Especially if they watch something they really like. It usually turns into a battle of not wanting to leave because they want to keep watching.
But, if watching TV is part of your routine try to keep it going so the transition can be smooth. Maybe use the TV show as a reward when they get home and if they have good behavior.
Full breakfast or snack
Depending on your kids they may want something to eat as soon as they get up. But this isn’t always optimal if you have to leave very early. Also, most daycares will provide breakfast so you don’t want them eating twice.
Decide early and keep a routine if they just need a quick snack to hold them over until they can eat breakfast at daycare or if they need a full breakfast to last them until lunch. Try not to deviate from this too much or you can end up with hangry little ones.
Use the potty before they leave
When your kids are first learning to use the potty make sure and have them go before you leave the house. If you live relatively close to the daycare and it won’t be an issue then maybe you can skip this step. But for most people who have to commute a little way it is better to not risk an accident or an emergency stop on the way to daycare.
Try to keep it calm
When kids are tired they don’t want to move. They get cranky and getting dressed is typically a chore. This is just a reality that you have to deal with.
If you start to get upset and escalate your emotions to their level it just starts to go downhill real quick. And this may be something you have to work on every day because if you are not a morning person a grumpy tired toddler will wear you out quick.
Make sure the ride is smooth
Bring a blanket or toy
If your toddler has a favorite blanket or stuffed animal that they can’t do without, it might be helpful to let them “ride” along to daycare. I don’t advise parents to let them take it with them to daycare but sometimes that is the only way they can make it.
Having that comfort in the car can help them self-soothe if their emotions are running high or if they are tired and just want to catch an extra nap on the way to school.
Keep them entertained
Find ways to keep them entertained in the car. You can sing songs, tell silly stories, or practice counting. If you don’t keep their mind busy they may start to dread the idea of leaving you for the day.
If you have an entertainment system in the car or tablets they can take along you may want to try that also. This is another trial and error type of thing because sometimes that can backfire as they are so interested in what they are watching they don’t want to go into daycare.
Talk about what they might do for the day
Get them excited about the day. Talk about what they think they will do that day or what friends they might play with. If it is a special day like a water day tell them how jealous you are that they will get to play with water while you have to work.
It’s amazing the things you will learn when you get them talking about their day. If you have been having issues with drop off they may reveal a reason as to why they don’t want to go. Maybe another kid is causing them grief, maybe they don’t like their teacher. By engaging them you can find out these things quickly.
Reassure who will pick them up
One thing my kids always do is ask “Who is picking us up?“. Typically it is always their mom. But during the summer I might stop in and pick them up. And if you are not the normal parent that drops them off maybe you won’t be the one picking them up.
But this question isn’t really about that. It is more a question of “Are you coming back to get me?“. When you look at it that way you can understand their hesitance to be dropped off. Be careful with your words and make sure they completely understand who is going to pick them up from daycare.
Have a smooth daycare drop off
Know how to drop off your toddler or baby
For dads that don’t normally drop off their kids, this is important. You need to know where your kid will go because if you are frustrated or anxious your kids will sense it right away.
Because if you get there at certain times they might not go to the same classroom as they will stay in all day.
In this situation, ASK YOUR WIFE.
She will probably know every little detail of where they would go no matter what time or day of the week they are dropped off.
If your child is a little older you may just ask them. Sometimes it makes them feel important because they can show you exactly where you should go.
Find which method works best when dropping off
When you drop kids off there are two types of parents:
Drop and run – This is when you go straight in let them go into the classroom and leave. Don’t linger. Don’t say a million goodbyes. Ignore the crying and go. Get your kisses and I love you out in the car before you even enter the building.
Love and kisses – This is when you say goodbye several times and hug and kiss before you leave the building. It may even include another reassurance as to who is picking them up.
Whatever method works is the one you will probably stick with. Until they hit an age and they will literally tell you to leave because they are grown now and they no longer need you, and no I am not crying because my baby is all grown now I just have bad allergies.
Work with the teacher
Work with the teacher if your toddler decides to throw a tantrum. They understand and they know what these kids go through. They have probably seen it a few times and guess what, your kid will probably be perfectly fine after you leave.
If this consists of them holding your toddler while you sneak out the door. Then ask them if they can do it. Or maybe they can distract them with something fun. Just figure out how to get out with as little conflict as possible and avoid the tantrum.
Whether it is school or daycare drop off when your kids leave you they suffer from a little bit of anxiety. As dads, we need to try and calm that fear as much as we can. The biggest thing out of this list that I would suggest is to keep it fun and try to stay on schedule.
Our young kids are creatures of habit and breaking that habit is the fastest way to a toddler tantrum at daycare drop-off. But if you prepare the night before, keep calm, and stay on schedule a successful daycare drop-off can happen.