There's a lot of advice out there for parents who struggle with the daycare drop-off. While it's true that mornings can be rough and many children aren't happy with being dropped off at daycare at first, many parents eventually find that they have the opposite problem – they arrive to pick their child up, only to find out that their child isn't ready to leave! They're busy playing and want to keep at it. While it's great that your child is enjoying their daycare, this can lead to stalling and even tears and tantrums when it's time to go home at the end of the day, and that's no fun for anyone. Take a look at some tips that can help you accomplish a conflict-free pickup from your child care service at the end of the day.
Bring a Snack
A kid-friendly snack might be just the thing to distract your child from whatever they're involved in and convince them that the time is right to leave. Have a car-friendly snack waiting in the car for your child, and let them know that it's there. It doesn't need to be anything that will spoil their dinner – a juice box, a string cheese, or a piece of fruit will do.
To a toddler or preschooler, "it's time to go get your snack" may sound a lot more appealing than "it's time to leave". Everyone needs a little motivation sometimes, and this might be enough for your child.
Give Them a Five-Minute Warning
Sure, you may be in a hurry to get out of there and get home yourself, but chances are that you can work in a few extra minutes of playtime if your child wants it. Transitioning from one activity to another can be difficult for small children, and a little bit of advance warning that the transition is coming can help them prepare.
When you arrive at the daycare, find your child and let them know that you'll be leaving in five minutes and that they should finish up what they're doing and say goodbye to their friends during that time. You can use the time to talk to your child's teacher and find out about their day. Don't worry that you're bothering the teacher – daycare providers really appreciate when parents take the time to ask for details about their child's day. It gives them the opportunity to fill you in on your child's progress and any issues they need to share with you. Collect your child's backpack and any other items that you need to take home as well. By that time, your five minutes will be up. Hopefully, since they knew it was coming, your child will be more ready to leave when you tell them it's time.
Talk About What's Waiting for Your Child at Home
When you tell your child that it's time to leave, they aren't thinking very far ahead. They know that you want them to stop having fun and go for what they may see as a boring ride in the car. Remind them about the fun that's waiting for them at home.
You don't have to plan anything special – just remind them of some part of the evening routine that you know they don't want to miss. "We're going to read a story when we get home," or "you don't want to miss your favorite cartoon," or even "we're going home to see dad," might be enough to get your child's attention and get them moving. Remind them that just because they have to leave doesn't mean that their fun has to stop for the day.
A smooth pickup at the end of the day is just as important as a smooth drop-off at the beginning of the day. With a little planning, you can help your child adjust to the transition and make the end of the day easier for yourself and your child.