If your children go to daycare or preschool, you’ve probably had it more than once, the dreaded morning meltdown. The yelling, screaming, hitting, kicking, having to have the teaching pull your kid off of you so you can go to work fit. Or maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe your child starts to cry so terribly that you feel so guilty that you never want to leave them ever again.
When you’re a working parent, handling daycare isn’t always easy and sometimes mornings can be a tough time on your toddler. Whether it’s tears or tantrums, silence or screams, here’s a few tips to ease into your mornings and make going to daycare every morning just a little bit easier.
Ease Into It
Just like me, my kids aren’t morning people. They want to sit around in their PJ’s and wake up a bit before they get rushed out the door and into their day. If I make them get up, dressed and out he door and minutes, it can trigger instant meltdowns like no other. Instead, we take baby steps. We wake up, use the potty, and then let them wake up for a few minutes before getting dressed. If they want to eat before going to daycare we have breakfast, we do, if not, no worries since we know there is a hot breakfast waiting for them there. I also allow some extra time to go into daycare and get the kids situated. We visit, I help them get toys or breakfast and get distracted and we say goodbye. That way they don’t feel like they are being abandoned.
Have Rules and a Routine
Our kids get distracted easily and if the television is on, they have trouble focusing like many kids. The number one rule in our house in the mornings is that the TV does not come on until everyone is dressed with shoes on, bags are packed, teeth are brushed and everybody is ready to go. Then, if we have time (which may or may not happen) they can watch just a few minutes of TV before we go out the door.
Talk to Them
If your child is old enough, talk to them about going to daycare or the babysitter’s. Ask them what they like and don’t like, and ask them why they get upset when you leave. After several weeks of brutal morning meltdowns at daycare, I asked my then three year old why he didn’t want to go to “school”. His answer surprised me. It wasn’t that he didn’t want me to leave. It was that they didn’t have enough fruit. My little produce junkie was unhappy with the small servings of fruit at breakfast and that caused full blown tantrums every day for weeks. We were able to solve it by asking them to give him extra servings and letting him take a banana or orange every morning with him.
If your child is old enough, talk to them about work and where you go while they are at daycare. Let them know why you are gone and where you go when you are apart and that you aren’t abandoning them to go to a super fun party or the circus every day. My 4 year old came to the office with me one afternoon to see what it was like. After about 20 minutes of realizing all I do is type on a computer he realized work is boring and “school” is far more fun every day and now he volunteers to go to daycare while I go to work.
Let Them Feel Like They Are in Control
Toddlers spend all day having everyone else tell them what to do and want just a little bit of control. Sometimes a meltdown is just a way of trying to control you, even if it’s just for a few more minutes. To help give them some feelings of empowerment in regards to school, let them help get involved in getting ready. Let them choose between wearing the red shirt or the blue one. Do they want fruit and cereal for breakfast or toast and yogurt? Let them bring a stuffed friend in the car with them and strap it into the seat belt to keep it safe while they are at “school”. What ever it takes to let them feel like they have a little bit of authority over their day.
Make Sure There Isn’t a More Serious Problem
Talk to your childcare provider and find out how your child is behaving once you leave. Are they fine 10 seconds after you walk out the door? Are they crying all day? Are they having problems with another child or a bully that you might not be aware of. You also might want to make sure that there is not a problem with the daycare provider themselves. Unless your daycare provider is a close friend or family member, it never hurts to occasionally make an unannounced visit or come to pick up at a different time than normal so that you can see what is happening a different times of the day and to keep an eye on what’s happening when you’re not there.
What are your tips for making going to daycare easier for young children?