The First Day of Daycare: Parents Share Their Stories
Funny or sad, heartwarming or heartbreaking, read on for stories of the first time parents left their little ones at daycare.
The first day of daycare is tough, but is it harder on the parents or the kids? Some teachers swear that the drama is just for the parents' benefit, and moments after they leave, the kids are playing happily and making friends. Some parents think this is a conspiracy, but whether it's perpetuated by teachers who just want to ease parents' minds or kids to make their parents feel terrible all day remains a mystery.
These parents have their own stories to tell about dropping their little ones off on their first day of daycare.
Is He for Real?
Marina and Alan of Greenwich, Connecticut, commuted two days a week to New York City. They didn't want to be an entire state (and 50-minute train ride) away from their 19-month-old son, Andrew, at daycare. Their only option was to commute with him. On the first day, Marina was prepared -- or so she thought.
"As we are leaving [the daycare], he dives onto the floor and attaches himself to my leg in crazy dramatic fashion," Marina recalls. "I want to just scoop him up and run off back home with him ... but then I remember reading somewhere that parents need to stay calm and set the tone because kids will pick up on our stress and emotion and will interpret it as uncertainty. So I put on a brave face and walked away."
The teacher finally helped peel Andrew from his mother's leg, and the parents made their escape, Marina barely making it through the door before bursting into tears. "In the time it took us to walk up a flight of stairs and go into the director's office to see him on the cameras, he was wearing a tall 'Cat in the Hat' hat and dancing! I turned to Alan and said, 'That kid just completely played us!'"
All It Took Was a Push
Jessica, age two, had trouble with transitions, so her parents, Jocelyn and Steve Harris of Seattle, prepared her in stages for her first day of daycare. First was a visit to an empty classroom, then playtime in the room with the teacher. They had playdates where Jessica bonded with future classmates over snacks and juice.
Finally, the big day came. "Jessica was hesitant, but we could sense she was ready," her dad recalls. "With a gentle little push, she walked into the classroom, only shyly looking back to check our barometer before heading to the water table." Jocelyn and Steve high-fived each other for their awesome parenting win and couldn't wait to pick Jessica up at the end of the day to see how it went.
"We arrived and she wouldn't even walk over to us!" Jocelyn remembers. "She hid behind the teacher and didn't want to leave! I don't know who was more embarrassed: us or the teacher!"
Low Beginning, Happy Ending
Micah was excited to go to the same daycare as his big brother Joshua. His parents, Lena and Christopher Lee of Peachtree City, Georgia, were amazed at how easy the transition was -- they dropped him off with a hug, a kiss and a "see you later, alligator." The challenge began two hours later when they checked back.
"We peeked in the window and saw the class gathered on the rug in a circle. We had never seen someone with lower energy lead a class," Lena remembers. "She was singing in a monotone voice while the kids were distractedly picking at things -- the bookshelf, the carpet. Micah was sitting there opening and closing the Velcro on his shoes. It was the saddest thing."
Lena and Christopher weren't sure what to do. "While we didn't want to rock the boat, there was no way we were leaving him with that teacher," Lena says. They went to the director and had his class changed the next day. "We checked in again after drop-off. Micah and a new friend were playing ... together at a table. We actually both cried watching him." While it was a tough choice to go to the director, they knew they did the right thing.
"P.S. -- His former teacher was gone within the month," Christopher adds.
Read on to learn 16 Tips for the First Day of Day Care, or share your daycare drop-off story below!
Cara Stevens is a freelance writer living in Connecticut with her husband, two children and one small fluffy puppy. She has authored several books for children and writes frequently about parenting, hair care, DIY crafts, food and healthy living.