Daycare Drop-off Dilemma


girls_morningOur morning routine Monday through Friday is always the same.

Get up. Brush our teeth. Get dressed. Go to daycare. We have a very short time frame to do drop-off before the school bus picks up.

Lately, daycare drop-off has been a nightmare. My youngest has never been clingy. She is not a cuddly girl. She is independent and a mover. So it shocked me a few weeks ago when she started to exhibit signs of separation anxiety.

I love our daycare. I love the teachers. AJ loves the teachers and adores her friends. But there is nothing harder for this mom than to have my child scream and reach out to me when I turn to leave. I don’t recall my oldest doing this at daycare drop-off. (I am sure I have blocked the horrid moments from my memory.)

Her teacher has assured me several times that she immediately stops crying when I walk out the door. It is obvious she has great days when she comes home smiling and happy. But this does not make it any easier for me to walk out the door.

Daycare Drop-off, Separation Anxiety, Mommy Tips & TricksHere are some things that I have done to try to ease the “walk out the door” routine:

Keep the same routine.

We try to keep the morning routine the same. And I try to move as quickly as we can. I have found that downtime causes distractions, which leads to being upset.

Adjust if needed.

I found that AJ was getting upset when Tessa would eat breakfast (which is typically a waffle, no syrup. AJ usually eats cereal at daycare). So I began making her a waffle as well and cut back the cereal she was eating at school. This helped us move out the door a little quicker.

Take time to settle in at daycare.

I try to build in to my morning routine the time to sit with AJ at her breakfast table as much as possible. Making her feel comfortable and adjusted from being at home to being at daycare is the key.

Rely on the teachers to help.

When I can see that she is settled in and starting to get comfortable, I rely on the teachers to help step in and talk with her – to create that distraction while I make my escape leave the room. I say a quick goodbye, give a small hug, and let them take over.

Trust that everything will be fine.

I cannot dwell on the fact that she is crying. If I did that, I would never leave. I KNOW that she is fine. (In fact, I have seen where she calms down as soon as she cannot see me – HOW DID SHE BECOME SUCH A GREAT ACTRESS?!). I know I am not a bad mom for leaving her behind – as hard as it seems to be.

I remind myself this is a phase, and some days are definitely better than others, but that does not make this any easier.

What are some other tips or tricks you have for dealing with drop-off anxiety?


  1. It stood out to me when you talked about how good daycare teachers will swoop in and distract our child at the right time. My husband and I want to start looking for child care for our daughter now so we have plenty of time to make our decision before I have to return to work this spring. Thanks for teaching me what kinds of questions to ask to make sure we find a daycare willing to work with parents during dropoffs!


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