Good at Daycare- a Mess When We Get Home...

Updated on May 19, 2011
J.A. asks from Schenectady, NY
19 answers

My almost 2 year old LOVES his daycare and we are thankful for how great this at home daycare really is. Only problem we are having is that by the time we make it home in the evenings (usually pick him up by 4:30), he is extra whining and flustered.

I suppose- for the most part- I am looking for people to commiserate with me since I have heard this is normal. I'm sure he is just tired, but I don't really know what to do to deal with him some days when he gets really bad. On a whole I have a wonderful kid, but some days I can't help but think there is something I can do to make this better.

What can I do next?

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answers from Redding on

Try giving him a small cheese stick and some milk before you head home from daycare. Sit in the car with him while he eats and just talk about his day for 5 minutes and then head home. It might take the edge off and help him transistion better.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

It is because, he is TIRED.
After school or what not, it is a long day for a child.
Once they come home, they need to DEFLATE.
And they are tired.
They spent all day, at daycare/school. It is like 'work.' They are on point ALL day and it is tiring for them. Like an adult all day at work.
So at home, is where they let it all hang out.

Don't rush him when he gets home, they are often also hungry after they come home. Let him... deflate. Not making him into a routine RIGHT after coming home. Let him unwind, relax.

Kids, are often tired/fussy/whining/flustered when they come home.
It is a long day for them... listening/behaving/doing what is told to them/having to be perfect, when they are at school or Daycare.
Hence, yes, they can get like this, once home.
And Home... is where they deflate. They need a place to deflate. It is at home.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Denver on

They do this because home is a safe haven. They have tried so hard all day to behave and do what they are told that when they get home they are overwhelmed and tired and just done with the day. I know when I get home first thing I want to do is pop open a beer to help me unwind some days i want to kick and cry and scream as well. Kids whine and cry to unwind since that is their source of release. Not much you can do but let them unwind and try to make the evening the best it can be.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

OMG, I had the same problem with my now 4-year-old when she was that age. I had no idea what to do, I was flippin' out that my sweet little girl would suddenly turn into a monster when we got home in the evenings.

Finally, I think I asked a question about it on here, and people told me that my baby needed to decompress. I had never thought of that. She was overstimulated at the end of the day. So, when we got home, I made no demands on her and let her play quietly in her room for a few minutes or I just held her when we got home.

It worked like a charm, fifteen minutes of peace is all she needed to be my sweet baby girl again.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We went through this problem when our kiddos were in daycare because they didn't nap well (or at all) there. It stinks, I know! It was the worst when our daughter was better as she got older. Sometimes when she was between 1 and 2, we would have to lie her down for a 45 minute to an hour nap when we got home in order to get her to even eat dinner.

Good luck and unfortunately, I think it will just be a fact of life until he outgrows the need for a nap -- maybe try an even earlier bed time to compensate.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Our 2 year old can be the same way! I try and reinforce the positive attitude his teachers have. Instead of saying "No whining" I try to say "let's use our nice voice!"
IMO, they are too little to control their emotions, so they don't know what to do. Even if they are super happy to be home with you, they don't know how to deal with that. Sometimes I will pick my son up and he will start running towards me for a hug but crying at the same time:)
I'm sure it's just a phase.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

You are right, it's totally normal. I run my own daycare and I see it all the time.
I was a nanny before starting my own business and the parents would come home and the kids would instantly change. The parents would ask me if they had been like that all day? I would say NO. It's an attention thing, they want mom and dad's attention because they haven't seen them all day. (not saying that's what your child is doing). I think kids feel more comfortable to be less behaved with mom and dad. I know my kids do!
Have you asked your provider if he sleeps well? If he is on the go the whole time?
What time do you put him to bed at night? Maybe try moving that up a bit?

It is normal but frustrating to deal with isn't it?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My educational background is in Early Childhood Education and I can tell you that this is considered very typical of children. The theory is that children hold it together all day long (when away from parents) and when they are in the safety of their parents company they feel comfortable and safe to let it all fall apart...all the stresses of the day are let out. Think of how you are at work and how you are at home...surely you act a bit different in those two places, right?

Also, the transition might be frustrating for him. You could try having book time right when you walk in the door. Get him out of the car and into the house and start playing with him...get him settled into being home. 2 year olds don't know how to get settled in on their own quite yet. I know that after a long day at work you just want to get in the house and get dinner started, but 10-15 minutes of together time would probably help him deal with the transition.

Toddler behavior is always a mystery. No one answer will probably fix anything, but as they say...."this too shall pass." Hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

i asked this question once, been awhile, but i can still relate. my son's about the same age, but it seemed when we would get close to home or even right after i'd pick him up, he'd act all silly (okay bratty).
i was advised to have a snack waiting for him in the car upon pick up & to MAKE SURE i spent a chunk of time - approx 10 miins - before i did ANYTHING else...INCLUDING starting supper. okay, that SUCKS b/c we're a 2 person household (me & my boy only) so the longer i wait to start food the longer it takes for us to actually EAT. but the time was worth it. i was able to chill him out & get him distracted enough to go do something else so i could cook. good luck girl. one momma told me this is the "witching hour" for everyone. i thought that was great & keep that in mind when we're having a yucky afternoon pick up time. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

It's a real catch 22. I've seen many kids like this through the years. In fact, we go through it with my own grandson and he lives at home and in our daycare with his mother. He'll cry like crazy when mom leaves for work or for school. Then he'll be great all day and he's loved on by us all here. When she gets home he's glad to see her. But then he's whiny. He's also almost 2 by the way.

I personally think that he's afraid she's going to leave and in her case, she often does come home early like that and then have to leave again. The only thing I can offer is that you can do as much with him as possible when you are home and take comfort in the idea that he's fine during the day. This phase will pass. But in one way or the other you will likely feel for a long time like the daycare provider gets the best part of his day.

I wish I knew how to make it better for all my moms and my daughter and grandson. But yeah, it's normal.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I've been dealing with this too and it's no fun. I agree with some of the other advice and thought I'd add one thing. I've made a point of getting up a little earlier so the mornings aren't rushed. I've found giving her more attention when she wakes up sets a better tone for the day. She still needs the transition but there is a little less drama for my attention when I pick her up.



answers from Kansas City on

We just went through the same thing. For our son we found tht when we got home if we laid him down for 15-20 min of "chill out" time that worked best. He was often so exhausted that he wanted to go lay down either in bed or on the couch. Putting him to bed earlier might be helpful too, if possible. We moved our sons bedtime up 15min and this has helped a lot too. It seems that he is not napping as long at daycare because 2 of the other 3 kids there aren't really nappers. So instead of 2-3 hours of nap he is only getting about 1...which makes for a CRABBY kid at 5:30pm. Hope this helps and if it makes you feel any better this phase only lasted about 2 months with us. (but we will keep the earlier bedtime!)



answers from Kansas City on

I feel you Sister! My girl will be 2 in 2 weeks and when I pick her up in the evening after work she sees me and starts to cry. It is almost like she is unloading all of her day and everything that she wanted to cry about all day on me all at once as soon as she sees me. All that I hear is "Oh she was so good all day. She didn't cry even one time all day" blah blah blah. I feel like I have so little time with her anyway and now the time I do have with her she is tired and crying. I just try to keep my cool and soothe her and sing in the car until we get home and by the time we make it home (I have a commute) she is usually good for dinner (although not always) bath and I make sure we always have our special cuddle and reading time before bed. Good Luck! I am hoping that, like everything else, this is just a phase.



answers from Columbia on

I second everything that Evermom stated. A little snack goes a long way!



answers from Portland on

When my daughter was little, she seemed to benefit from 15-20 minutes of just quiet snuggling after I picked her up. Then she'd discover she was really hungry, which could also result in The Whine or "mama, mama, mama…," so I'd have a small plate of finger-food veggies or fruit in the fridge that I'd prepared that morning. It usually helped tide her over while I made dinner. But she was definitely more tired and needy after daycare, all the way up till she started school.



answers from Kansas City on

we had this problem, we started giving juice and a small snack in the car and it really helped. Don't know why, but it was a life saver, just a thought



answers from New York on

They turn into different children when Mom or Dad comes to pick them up!
The transformation is amazing little angels to little devils! They all do it.
Probably for attention. Who knows! Just be consistent whichever way you
deal with the behavior. Good luck!


answers from San Francisco on

This may not be the case, but with my 13-month old....she doesn't nap well at daycare because it's too noisy. So when we pick her up around 4:30, she's almost ready for bed! She's SO whiny when we get her home--especially when she only gets a 30 minute nap all day! So ... maybe it's the same with your child?



answers from Springfield on

Mine never napped at day care and I sure didn't want him to nap at 5:00. Occasionally he would nap in the car but it was rare. So I made sure he had a snack as soon as he got home and got him to bed a little earlier.

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