Two hearts breaking: Why some kindy drop-offs are just too hard

Posted in Childcare.

My heart hurts right now. I feel shaky inside, like I might cry at any given moment. And I also feel mum-guilt.

I keep seeing my little guy’s teary face as I try to switch my attention to work. I can still feel him nuzzling into me and gripping my legs for dear life.

You see, I have just dropped him at childcare, and it was a killer. It was one of those sucky mornings that make you think, “This is just wrong. I hate this. Why am I doing this?”

Let me tell you about it because I know only a parent will truly understand my feels.

The good and the bad

Not all childcare drop off days are tearjerkers. My little 4-year-old Sam, doesn’t fall to pieces all the time on the two days a week he is in care so I can work. Some days he skips through the gate, his dinosaur backpack bouncing as he grins to his teachers and little friends.

On these days, I simply give him a cuddle, tell him I love him and will be back in the afternoon to pick him up. Then I walk out the gate feeling light and happy.

But for as many good drop-offs, we also have bad ones.

And there are varying degrees of bad. This can just be a wobbly drop-off where he feels a little clingy and needs me to pair him up with a friend before leaving, to a full-blown anxiety attack.

When this happens, there is often a build up of anxious thoughts and worries that morning with the tears streaming since being told it’s a ‘kindy day’. Sometimes there will then be another explosion of crying as I carry him through the gate and he proceeds to communicate to me, in a thousand different ways, that he’s not OK.

I hate the bad days

The bad days suck.

They are so hard not only for him, but for me too.

A bad drop-off can just happen or it can be triggered by something. Like him waking up feeling anxious, a late night, a disturbed sleep, a rushy and stressy morning, a forgotten lovie, or him just really not wanting to part from me that day.

But a bad drop-off is also derailing for me too. I question myself and my choices as a mum. I feel unsteady.

Although he will likely settle as soon as a friend distracts him with a toy car, or his teacher with a blob of play dough, I spend the day fretting.

The kindy teachers are good!

The kindy teachers are golden.

Yes, I have brainstormed better drop-off routines with the teachers, and yes they are aware of how to handle him with care on these days. They also call me or I call them soon after to tell me, “He’s fine! So happy now” – and while I believe them, I don’t truly lose the fretting feeling until pick-up time.

When he runs smiling into my arms and I ask him how kindy was and he says, “Thumbs up” pointing to the sky, that’s when I fully relax.

Because I know he IS happy. He IS OK. More than OK. That he’s had a great day and he seems more confident and self-assured.

So yes, the hard mornings are hard, but I know I am not the only one to feel this way.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a smooth sailing day – for both our sakes.


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