Does this sound familiar: you bundle your little one into the car, trying hard to ignore her crying, then fight and wrestle to get her out and rely on the playschool carers to physically wrench her away from you?
Chances are she’ll perk up even before your car has left the drop-off zone, but that doesn’t stop you from feeling heartbroken.
Follow these tips to make morning goodbyes happier affairs.
Talk her through the concept
If your little one has spent most mornings up until now with either you or her nanny, it’s not surprising that she finds the idea of playgroup daunting. Get her used to the idea by reading books that explain what happens at playgroup (we like Goat Goes to Playgroup by Julia Donaldson) – this way, she’ll know what to expect, and she’ll understand that far from being scary, playgroup is about having fun and making friends. It may also help to take her to the group’s open day and introduce her to her teacher ahead of time. Talk to her about her teacher and discuss all the fun activities like dress up, play dough, crafts she’ll be doing.
Leaving home and all that’s familiar is a major step. Trepidation and tears are to be expected, but easing your child in will make it more manageable. Rather than signing up for a full day, five times a week, initiate her by dropping her off for a few hours once or twice a week. You can start leaving her for longer periods once her confidence is up.
Create a routine
You’ll remember how critical routine was when your little one was just a baby – and nothing changes. Rituals help to create a sense of safety because they let your child know what comes next, removing scary uncertainty. Make your own goodbye routine when you drop her off: maybe helping her put her bag in her cubby hole and finding her hat. A farewell kiss is an essential part of this routine – don’t leave it out, no matter how tempting it is to slink away when it looks like her attention has been diverted. She’ll just get a bigger fright when she realises that you’re no longer there. On the other hand, lingering isn’t a good idea either – she’s not likely to welcome her teacher’s cuddles when you’re standing right
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.