Thursday, February 20, 2014

The One Where I Decided to Stop Bending at Daycare Drop Off

(photo credit)
I wanted to share a moment of clarity that changed the course of my daycare drop off (DDO) experience dramatically. It was an ah-ha moment that made things easier and faster for me with two kids. I assume even if I was dropping off one child an ah-ha moment like this would still help incredibly so it could apply to anyone or even situations outside of daycare. You'll see what I mean...

When Baby D-Nut started attending daycare with big brother C, I was nervous for how I would handle drop off. I went back and forth in my head about who to get out of the car first! (Please tell me when you first had two kids you debated the same thing.... please?)

Once I figured that piece out I wondered which class I was going to stop off at first? On a whim I asked Little C if he wanted to help me get baby sis settled in her room and he jumped on the opportunity. I thought this would be good to give him a sense of pride and to help us get over the hurdles we were experiencing at the time.

And so it began... our new routine. Every morning, Monday - Friday, he'd "help" me with baby sis except what started as something sweet and cute to help my little man cope and that I was internally busting with pride over quickly became a pain in the arse!

If you are a "dropper-offer" yourself then you know how there is a small window of time from the moment you pull into the parking lot to the moment you peel out where you will not be late to work. It is a small window that if all goes according to plan I can enjoy my drive into the office without cursing at every slow-coaching driver or getting stressed and anxious at every red light. So in order to have an enjoyable drive I need to stick to my allotted DDO window.

Now back to our routine... You have to take shoes off before entering the baby room or cover them with "booties." No big deal for me but with a baby in her carseat, a bottle bag to carry and now a toddler who takes his sweet time to do anything, it was becoming cumbersome. Then once we were in the baby room I spent most of my time reminding the toddler to not jump on all the baby things, keep his voice down, don't take that toy from your sister, please don't touch all the babies faces, etc.

I didn't get much time to focus on my daughter and was spending all my time corralling the toddler. Then we'd have to battle to get his shoes back on as I could feel each minute sail by and my DDO window getting smaller and smaller. Then the battle began to get my son into his room. It was such a struggle until I came up with the idea to count to ten. We'd sit together right outside his room and we'd count to ten together knowing that once we hit "ten" he'd have to head on into class. Worked like a charm and life was good. Except this whole rigmarole took me for-ev-er and I was having unpleasant commutes to the office.

(photo credit)
I started to feel like something had to give. This routine was NOT working. I wasn't getting any one-on-one time with the baby and my toddler was stressing me out and he wasn't getting the best of me either! I had to ask myself why am I doing it this way? The answer was because I thought it was what my son wanted and I wanted to keep him happy. But at what expense??? My sanity???

I decided to stop bending right then and there. I started to think about what I wanted out of my morning. What was important to me, what was manageable and what all three of us could handle. I broke the routine we'd all become accustom to for no one else but me and it. felt. great.

The next morning as we drove to daycare I simply said, "hey buddy, today you can't help me with Baby Donut. You have to go straight into your class, okay?" This was met with a dramatic display of displeasure and it continued for the whole drive, the time in the parking lot, and into daycare. I stayed firm and didn't buckle even though we were in full on tantrum mode in front of others.

We sat outside his room like we always do. I calmed him down and sat with him on our bench with Baby D-Nut by our side and I told him I really wanted to take sister to her room by myself. I explained that I still wanted to count to ten with him and that after dropping off sis I would pop back into his room for a "super-special goodbye hug just for him."

He ate it up!

You guys!! It was gaming changing! I whisked Baby D-Nut into her room where it was quiet and peaceful as the baby room should be. I was able to visit with the teacher, get the bottles to their place, fill out the daily sheet, smooch my girl's perfect little cheeks as much as I wanted and get her set up for her little day. It was fast and simple and... wait for it.... ENJOYABLE!

Then true to my word I popped back in C's room as he was eating breakfast with his friends and he lit up to see me. I wrapped my arms around him told him I loved him and without any tears or tantrums he said "bye, mom!"

I had special time with each of my kids and was out the door in record time! But most of all, it was what I wanted. I wasn't bending, I was setting the tone, leading the pack, being the parent. Everyone adjusted just fine and we were all happy!

My point here is if you are struggling with DDO yourself, or maybe some other routine you have that is cumbersome or stressful, ask yourself why? Why is it this way and is there something about it I have the power to change? How do I really want this to go and how can I make it happen? 

Even if you have a child that is very adverse to change or transitions, rocking the boat just enough to make things better down the line is so worth it. Plus a happy mama is a happy family, yes? As much as we take care of our children and bend like crazy to keep them happy there are times where our sanity and our happiness should be considered and even the #1 priority. I hope you recognize an area where you can do just that. Maybe it doesn't work and you have to keep trying new things until it does. Sometimes stress is a choice and we have the power and the ability to make choices to stop the nonsense!

What routine do you wish you could change? Is DDO stressful for you? Have you had any moments of clarity that helped you handle certain parenting situations?


  1. Boom! indeed. Luckily for me, my twins are in the same class so I don't have to make this decision. But isn't it crazy how drop-off time is so critical and one wrong step makes the difference between "at my desk 5 minutes early" and "walk in eyes averted and 30 minutes late"

    1. HA! Yes, time is so critical. Not just for getting to work on time but it can also completely affect my mood if I'm rushing around like a crazy person first thing in the morning.