Every week on Friday I feature a post from a fellow mom sharing her story about motherhood. This week I have Shawna from Stress Less Be Healthy with some helpful tips on managing drop off and pick up from school.
Ever wonder why you see a mom gripping her toddlers hand at drop off and pick up from school?
Or, why every morning there are just a few parents who seem to insist on staying with their child until just before the bell rings for school to start?
Well, when a new school year begins; some parents may feel like it’s a well deserved break and love the fact that everyone is getting back into a routine.
But, when it’s your child’s first year of Kindergarten; this new beginning is coupled with excitement, anxiety, and tears. Don’t forget about having to start new routines and learn new rules! For them and us, as parents!
One such routine can catch you off guard and have you losing your cool if not prepared.
I’m talking about the drop off and pick up from school routine, when you have two kids to handle; your kindergartner, and a rambunctious toddler who has no fear!
The difficulty level of this task depends on each individual child, parent, and school rules or guidelines. And, you may be pressured to do what others do, as well.
Don’t give in to social norms; you do what you need to for yourself and children.
And, if that means you have to race your rambunctious toddler up a hill and hope to goodness that you catch them before getting to the parking lot; then so be it! Not talking from experience here or anything…
But, if early morning exercise isn’t your thing, then know that there are other strategies to keep your little ones in line when other’s eyes are watching. And when you’re probably assuming that those are judging eyes, but they are more likely laughing silently to themselves because they’ve been there, too!
Always go early
Ever see a horrible park job in the parking lot? (Probably me!)
Or, no parking spot available when you get to the school five minutes before it starts?
There may be days when you get there late and have to walk a little longer with your child to get them to the school door, which only makes matters worse.
Make it a point to not have this be the norm; plan to get there early everyday!
Your home is chaos in the morning before school and it’s hard to get out the door ‘on time’. So, make ‘on time’ be 15 to 20 minutes earlier than you actually need to leave.
Plan to get to the school 20 to 25 minutes early! And, yes, this is what I actually do; to make everything easier on myself, my shy and anxious kindergartner who still needs her mommy, and rambunctious toddler!
First, figure out how much time it takes you to get to the school, and then plan to leave your home ‘on time’ everyday. School is four minutes away and starts at 8am; leave at 7:30.
Getting up a little earlier will be well worth the sacrifice. Especially if you have children who are still anxious every morning to go to school because it’s still new to them.
This extra time will allow you to talk to your children about expectations for the day, or simply the expectations for drop off.
Let them know how long you’ll stay on the smaller playground.
Let your little one know that they MUST hold your hand til you get down to the playground, and must hold your hand on the way back to the car when it’s time to leave.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a fool-proof plan, but does better your odds. (I should know!)
Hold their hands like their life depends on it
This goes more for your wild toddler than school age child…hopefully.
If your school age child needs to be dropped off at the bottom of a playground, behind another playground, and you or they feel the need for you to walk them all the way down and you have a toddler with you; you’ll find yourself with more than just the issue of making sure your toddler doesn’t run away from you.
You’ll also face the challenge of making sure other, bigger, kids don’t run into your kids, or accidentally hits them with basketballs!
When this fear of your child getting hurt by a bigger child on accident looks like it may become a reality; you can act on instinct, or you can be proactive.
Instincts will help you if need be, but being proactive and holding your childs hand (like their life depends on it) seems like a better option. At least until you get to where the kindergartners morning playground area is.
Let them play and run around for a few minutes
When your toddler just isn’t having it in the morning and all they want to do is run away from you and play; let them. But, only once you get to a safe place for them to play.
Let them play on the smaller playground meant for the youngest students in the school. This will be the least popular playground, so not as many kids will be on it.
I’m honestly starting to feel like a helicopter parent when I’m at my daughters school. But, you know what? I know where my kids are at all times and I know that they are safe.
And, you may even be surprised when you give your toddler a little bit of freedom, and they cling to your leg when any other child passes them by.
Of course, this behavior may change on a day to day basis. But, it’s nice to know that they feel protected by you.
Don’t forget to always give a 2 minute warning when it’s time for you and your toddler to leave your school age child and head home.
Make it a race to get back to the car
Sometimes your toddler won’t want to leave, the playground or their older sibling.
You’ll have to make it a game to get them to leave before the bell rings. Before the gate dividing the playground from where you parked is locked. And, before your only choice to leave is walking all the way around the school with a toddler who doesn’t want to hold your hand or listen. Her favorite word right now is ‘no’!
Ask your toddler to race you to the car. Sure, you may have to walk fast or run. (Sneakers are optional, but strongly advised.)
Just make this is a ‘holding hands’ race, so you can quickly scoop them up or move them, if they’re about to get hit by an older kid or basketball.
Stay in the Car for Pick Up as long as you can
If you want to avoid being the parent with the child in a stroller (if they’ll even sit in a stroller), or from running away from you and darting across the street from the school, before you even pick up your older child; stay in the car as long as you can.
If you get to the school early for pick up, because of reasons mentioned above; don’t get out right away!
This is a great time to procrastinate!
If you’ve been dying to use that skill you picked up in school for your parenting duties, this is the time to use it.
You could simply talk to your toddler, put music on, or ignore them in the hopes they don’t get cranky before it’s time to get out to pick up their brother or sister.
If all else fails…
Pick up your screaming child and walk back to the car…who cares if all eyes are on you. It’s hard enough already to carry a 35 pound toddler up hill kicking and screaming; don’t make it harder on yourself by thinking you’re being judged by everyone there.
You need to do what you need to do; to keep your little one safe and keep your sanity in tack.
In all honesty, THIS was not what was expected for how drop off and pick up would be when my daughter started Kindergarten.
Preschool seemed so much simpler; no playgrounds to walk through or bigger kids to avoid.
The hardest thing about preschool drop off was trying to leave without tears starting to well up in my daughter’s eyes.
Dropping off at elementary school is a whole new ball game. Which, by the way you should watch out for when walking through the playgrounds to get your child where they need to be, safely.
What tips do you have for safely dropping and pick up your little school age kid?