You’re done with maternity leave, or maybe you’re ready to quit your job as “stay at home Mommy,” and you’ve finally picked out the best child care center for your kiddos. But now, the drop-off drama begins: Cue the tears (yours and theirs!).

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Think back to your first day at your job. There were new people. It was a new place and a new routine, complete with new rules and expectations. Your child is facing all of this when they start childcare. We talked to Stacey Poindexter, M.Ed, who has 18+ years experience working with families and children. Scroll on for her expert tips to help you and your kiddo make a smooth transition into the childcare scene.

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Tips For Drama-Free Day Care Drop Off:

1. Follow the established routine. “ The classroom will have some sort of routine that you should follow upon entering. Do it! The teachers should help you through this the first few days and may even have a picture schedule for you to follow,” says Stacey. “This establishes expected behaviors.” Children love routine and glob onto these rules. It makes them feel comfortable and in control. “Teachers are great at distracting and redirecting children,“ says Stacey. “Let them do their job.”

2. Kiss and go. Make it quick! Remember, this is about them, not you. If you are going to cry, save it for the car. Stacey says, “Your child picks up on your emotional state and mimics it. If you are upset, they will be upset.”

3. Use technology. If your center offers a nanny cam, use it to check on your child. The teacher may also let you Facetime or Skype with your child if they are super stressed. Exchange numbers and agree on a time limit when the teacher can call you if your child does not calm down within that time after you leave.

4. Talk about it and practice. You know this day is coming, so don’t just spring it on your child on the first day. Talk about it, look at the photos you have taken or found online of the childcare setting and practice what you will do on the first day. Stacey recommends, “Drop your kid off at the babysitter or a friend’s house for a morning.” Practice the routine.

5. Purchase something special. “Everyone loves to buy new outfit and shoes for their first day at a new job. Do the same thing for your kiddo. Pick out a new backpack and pack it with your child. Make sure to put in a comfort item, like a family photo for your child to look at when they get lonely or are thinking about you,” says Stacey.

6. Have a special signal. “I recommend the book, The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn, It is about a raccoon who leaves her baby but always kisses her palm first. The baby raccoon only has to look at her palm when she is scared to remember her mother loves her.” #allthefeels. Blow a kiss. Pound a fist bump or flash the American Sign Language sign for “I love you.” Think of a signal that works for you and use it as a special sign between you and your kid.

7. Let the teacher know your child’s signs. “You know when your child is getting sick or had a nightmare, or maybe they didn’t like what you planned for breakfast. Let the teacher know so she can keep a special eye on your child and report back to you at pick up time. In turn, the teacher should let you know if your child’s best friend was absent or they didn’t get their turn on the iPad that day because of a change in schedule. It will make your evening easier!”

8. Go into after-school chill mode. You may need a cup of mommy juice (read: wine) when you get home after work to wind down. Your child is no different. They may need to watch their favorite program on TV or play like crazy outside. Your child has been sharing and taking turns. They have been waiting in line and trying to listen. Let them chill, and so should you.

9. Mondays are hard for everybody. Stacey reminds us that, “Weekend rules are different. It’s hard to get back into the routine on Monday.” Give your kid some slack on Mondays, the first days back after a long break and even when there is a time change. “It takes kids a bit longer to adjust to changes in an established routine. Kids love routine and rules they know how to follow.”

Do you have positive “drop off” experiences? Let us know your secret @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)