Drop off can be tough at the best of times, but layer in 18 months of family-time and limited social opportunities and we've got a steep hill to climb. If saying goodbye is causing big feelings (yours, or theirs) try a goodbye ritual!
WHY? Goodbye rituals provide a routine opportunity for connection before detaching; when done consistently, they provide a reliable cue that a transition is in the works, and offer a formulaic (scripted, familiar) interaction that takes the shock out of separation and provides a clear "end" (as in, ok--we're done, don't linger!)
First be super clear; tell them what to expect and practice the ritual beforehand. Then, give the cue "alright, it's go time!"
-A secret hand shake
-A secret gesture
-A secret call/response phrase "I love you to the moon and ____ (back)"; "You are my _____ (sunshine)"; "See ya later ____ (alligator)."
Or combine all three into a super special goodbye ritual that fully meets your kiddo's needs!
Leave! No seriously. Leave. You've said goodbye, you've wished them well and now it's time to make a swift but obvious exit. And if in doubt? Redirect AFTER the goodbye.
But friends, can we all just agree that "slipping out unnoticed" is SOOOOO 2020?
You've got this!