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10 Tips For Coping With Tears At Drop Off

If in the last couple of years you’ve ever passed a red-eyed snotty-nosed lady sitting sobbing in her car outside a crèche, there’s a good chance it was me.

One of the most difficult things about going back to work can be getting your head around the fact that someone else is going to be looking after your baby. When you give birth, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone helps us bond with our baby and makes us want to have them close by. So it can be no surprise when it’s time to go back to work, there may be tears – and most of the time those tears are ours – not the baby’s!

A recent report called ‘Growing up In Ireland’ found that when it came to childcare, 42% of families use a relative, 31% use a child-minder and 27% use a crèche. Leaving your little one with a family member can definitely be easier and lessen the guilt you may feel, however if that isn’t an option for you, a child-minder or crèche may be your next option.

You’ve probably already been treated to the story of baby Josh who was sleeping through the night by 6 weeks, or Emily who got her first tooth without so much as a squeak. So you’ll be looking forward to the ones where you’re told how little Molly just took to crèche like a duck to water. If that IS you – then that’s great. Seriously – no-one wants any parent or baby to be upset. But if it’s not, and you’re feeling anxious or finding it difficult – here are Mumager’s Top 10 tried and tested tips to help:

1. Find the right solution for you.

Do your research and make sure you’re 100% happy with the people who are going to be caring for your baby.

2. Keep drop-offs quick.

All care-givers will agree that it only prolongs the agony for everyone if you hang around for one more cuddle.

3. Drop off versus pick up?

Kids are smart – many will react differently depending on who is dropping them off. Usually mom comes off worse in the emotional show-down, whilst Dad gets a cheery wave bye-bye. If this is true for you it may be worth seeing if you can arrange it so that Dad does drop-off and you do the pick-up.

4. Check in.

Whilst most care-givers will assure you that your little one will be fine as soon as you leave, it can be helpful to make a call to put your mind at ease. Ring the crèche or child-minder when you get into work to check that everything is okay. You’re more likely to hear shrieks of laughter than wailing.

5. Routine.

We know the benefits of having a routine for bed-time – the same can be true for the morning drop-off. Talk about which friend they are going to play with, or ask them which teddy they would like to take today. Even if they aren’t old enough to talk back, they will understand the same thing is happening every day and with predictability comes security.

6. Watch your language.

When we’re feeling anxious it comes across in our body language and our voice. Even though your heart may feel like its breaking or you’ve a knot in your stomach at the thought of trying to extract those little arms and legs that are clinging to you – try to keep your voice upbeat. Play some fun songs in the car on the way there and sing along to them to help lighten the mood. Kids can sense our anxiety a mile off.

7. Focus on the positives.

Try not to let that 5 minutes of tears in the morning cloud your view of the rest of the day. Most children love being at crèche or with a child-minder – and if you’ve chosen the right one, then you’ll be confident that they are in the best and safest of hands. Getting to play, sing, interact with other little ones, paint and do lots of fun activities may be even better than being at home.

8. Give it time.

Some children settle really quickly, others take a bit of time so avoid comparing your situation to others. It’s a big adjustment to make – think of how long it took you to settle into a new job.

9. Stop beating yourself up.

You’re using childcare either because you have to work, or you want to. Trust that you’ve made the right decision and that your child will be loved and cared for. Using childcare doesn’t make you a bad parent. There is no evidence to suggest that children suffer either emotionally or developmentally as a result of not being at home with you. Try instead to focus on the positives and when you do get to spend time with them make the most of it. A phrase we love at Mumager is is ‘be here now’.

10. Rethink?

If after some time things still aren’t settling – sit down and look at alternatives. Perhaps the option you’ve chosen just doesn’t suit your little one, or you. Think of all the possible solutions from crèche, child-minder, au-pair, relatives, nanny or nanny-share. Find the best fit for you and your family.

At Mumager our aim is to support moms returning to work after maternity leave. Contact us at info@mumager.ie for more information or advice on how we can support you.

About the Author

Mumager can give advice on everything related to going back to work after maternity leave. Whether it’s understanding your entitlements or how to deal with a difficult boss please ask us.

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