Back to work

5 tips for a smooth day care pick-up

Key takeaways

  • Actively leave your work stresses at the door 
  • Take a moment to meaningfully reconnect with your child  
  • Get information about your child’s day from your caregiver (and say thanks!)

In the transition back to work, we often focus most of our attention on getting our kids into childcare for the first time – finding the right centre for themestablishing new routines and being conscious of our own emotions in the process. But just as important as the morning drop-off is the way we transition our little ones back home at the end of their day. 

Here are some tips to ensure the end of the day runs smoothly, for you and them. 

1. Leave your work stresses at the door

It’s natural to hold onto some stresses when your daily priorities begin to include your job again. When you clock-off for the day and head out for pick-up, do your best to leave the day’s worries in the workplace. Try taking a moment to breathe and decompress as you leave the office, or to provide a quick handover to the colleague picking up your shift.  

Even a text message to a friend can act like opening the vent on a pressure cooker: let a little steam out, rather than holding onto it when you arrive to greet your toddler. Children are, after all, able to pick up on the worries or anxieties of their parents. Aim to shake yours off before you greet them again. 

2. Take a moment to reconnect with your child

The temptation to make pick-up as quick and efficient as possible is real. You just want to get home and get moving on dinner and the next phase of your day. But before collecting belongings or checking in with the caregiver – more on that in a moment – make your child your first port of call. Some days they might want to cling to and reconnect with you immediately, and other times they might be absorbed in friends or play. But ensuring they know you’re there with the other parents establishes patterns they can rely on. 

3. Check in with the caregiver

Your child’s version of your post-work decompression comes in the form of a debrief from their caregiver. Take a moment to not only thank them for their care, but also to check how your little one went during the day. Did they have adequate sleep? Not eat their lunch? Any moodiness you should be aware of? Not only does arming yourself with information about your child’s day get their night at home off on the right foot, establishing a good relationship with a caregiver offers a template that they’ll grow to emulate. It also makes it a bit easier to communicate down the track if any issues arise. 

4. Allow some time for goodbyes

Giving your toddler a chance to say goodbye – to their caregivers as well as their little mates – establishes a pattern they will follow as they grow older. And in their present day-to-day, it’s a small reminder of how their day is broken up with greetings and goodbyes, which could lessen the fear around being dropped off or picked up. 

5. Talk about the evening ahead

As you walk them out and head off home, it’s the perfect time to talk to your little one about what the rest of the evening has in store. Talking to your toddler not only boosts their language skills, but can provide cues for your evening rhythm including what’s planned for dinner, upcoming family time and the bedtime routine that follows.  

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