Daycare Pickup – Last Mom Standing

clockThere are times when being the last one standing is a good thing. The game of Poker. The TV show Survivor. Dodgeball…Cage match wrestling…American Idol. But when do I absolutely hate being last? Daycare pickup.


I spend my days watching minutes. If I don’t leave the house by a certain benchmark my dreaded commute will take longer than normal. If I’m not in the Starbucks drive-through by a certain point I will be at the office later than I want – throwing my whole day off. Add in juggling three pumping sessions a day, multiple meetings, and a To’Do list that is never quite done – and I feel like my day is nothing more than small timing hurdles and lots of rushing around. And all of these logistics lead up to the most important challenge of my day – trying to arrive at my daughter’s school before at least one other parent so my kid isn’t the last one sitting in her class.

I’m not sure why the thought of being the last to pick up bothers me so much. It’s not like I’m so late that they’re turning the lights off and packing it up – I’m usually there a full half hour (or more) from closing time. At only 9 months old it’s not like my daughter is there watching the other kids going home and wondering where we are – she’s just dancing to the music in class and enjoying having the entire toy collection to herself.

But for whatever reason it just bothers me. Another sliver of guilt that chips away at my working mommy heart. Another reason to race around like crazy watching the minutes slip away and stressing myself out. Another thing I’m not good enough at. On the days my husband picks her up I have two questions: “Did she poop?” and “Was she the last one there?”

This week something has happened – something I dreaded. Her class at school has shifted kids and the ones with parents later than me are gone. Yup, every day this week I’ve been the last one to pick up. And you know what? I’m starting to be OK with it. When the other kids go home mine gets some one on one time with her sweet teachers. When I pick her up and the room is quiet her teachers have more time to talk to me about what she did that day, even sharing cute stories. In the game of daycare pickup – I’m in last place this week….and I’m finally at peace with it.

So there, I said it, I’m letting go of the guilt I’ve created for myself and will focus less on getting there before someone else – and focus more on just getting there to see my favorite face in the world.

What about you? What self-imposed stress do you place on yourself? What are the little things that are keeping you in the guilt game? What can you give up to  give yourself a break?

8 thoughts on “Daycare Pickup – Last Mom Standing

  1. Thank you! I always work so hard to not be the last one to pick up too and I thought maybe it was just me! They look so distraught and downright sad when everyone else has gone.

  2. I was frequently the last one picking up my kid – sometimes – I would be late and have to pay fines. I work in tech support and getting “off the phone” on time? nightmare.

    … but you’re right – my DD would be last, but yes – she’d have quality time, one on one, and she helped out. She’s dry the table the teacher had cleaned, she’s tidy the last of the toys… good life skills – there was no rushed goodbyes with her friends, no tearful “One more puzzle,momma” … I’d also have longer to chat with the teacher to find out about my DD’s day. It was nice. Calm, quiet, relaxed, and also gave her and I better time together on the way home. I’d be able to engage with her about the things the teacher had told me and we could chat about her day without the consistent “I dunno” reply.

    … now? Now I’m the one dropping her off at 7:01am. I’d feel bad waiting waking her at 6am, and sometimes waiting for the teacher to show up in the morning – BUT!!!! now I can meet her at the end of the day, 3:30pm – and we spend ALL afternoon together and evening. It’s all about tradeoffs, and making the best of it, and not beating yourself up.


  3. Good for you. So much healthier to give up the guilt especially when you can turn coming last into a positive thing

  4. This was me for so many years. I hated being the last one to pick up. What’s worse is that I am one of the only parents that has a commute so most kiddos are picked up right at 5:15 or 5:30. Me, on the other hand, struggles to get there by 5:45. It is what it is and I have finally learned to accept it. My son is now 5 and he enjoys being one of the last ones there. He often tells me he WANTS to be the last one there. No matter when I come to pick him up, its always too early. He never wants to go home. Maybe I should be more worried about that. 🙂

  5. Glad to hear that I am not alone! My mornings & evenings are so hectic by dropping off & picking up 2 kids to 2 different locations. I too hate being the first to drop off and/or the last to pick up. Although it never seems to bother my kids…they love where they are at. Thank you for writing this, I am going to try to stop stressing myself out so much and worry less about if 5 minutes makes me a bad Mom! 😉

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  7. If the kids are happy then all good. For me as a former child who was consistently the last one picked up from daycare, that was pretty sad and lonely for me. But I was also one of the first dropped off in the morning and it wasn’t until I was school aged (after school daycare program) that I started to notice and be sad about it.

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