'I'm a mess': mum's emotional video after daycare drop-off is giving us all the feels

Photos: LinkedIn / Cayla Dengate
Photos: LinkedIn / Cayla Dengate 

There is no easy way to prepare for that first daycare drop-off when it's time to return to work after maternity leave.

Even the most stone-hearted parents usually end up in floods of tears once they hand over their little darling and make it safely back to the car. 

Sydney mum, Cayla Dengate, has captured all the raw emotion of that first drop-off in a heartbreaking - and very relatable - video posted to LinkedIn.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied 

After saying goodbye to her 11-month-old daughter at a Sydney childcare centre, she turned the camera on herself.

"The process of leaving a child at daycare so you can go back to work is such an emotional experience," she says sobbing.

"And before I had kids, I had no idea. You'd have people returning to work from parental leave and you'd have no idea that they've just been through this hugely emotional struggle before they step into the office."

She continues: "You look after a child from when they're born and you're the thing that's keeping them alive. Keeping them happy. You know things about them that nobody else knows, like how to bite them just hard enough to make them giggle but not hard enough to hurt. Or how to reassure them when they're crying."

"And when you drop them off to daycare, it goes against all of your instincts. They grab onto you and they cry and they look at you like you're betraying them and every part of you says 'don't leave'. Don't leave this child here, in this room, without you."

"But life has to go on. You've got to go to work. Remember who you were before you became a parent. I know I'm not the only parent who has a cry in the car after dropping off their kids for work.


No Cayla, you are most definitely not the only one. The gut-wrenching moment I dropped my first child to daycare when he was eight-months-old will be etched in my mind forever. 

Cayla, a news editor, tells Essential Baby that she decided to post the video on the spur of the moment, calling out for "stories and strategies" from other working parents. 

"I was sitting there crying and it occurred to me that even though I felt alone, there were countless working parents who were dealing with the same emotions," she explains. "I think it's important to talk about how we feel at work, even if it means being a bit vulnerable."

Her video has already gained over 1,800 views - and working parents everywhere can relate. 

Said one: "Aww Cayla, my heart goes out to you. My little boy cried every day until he was 18 months old when I would drop him off so I can totally relate to that little look of betrayal you get." 

And another: "I loved that you've shared this video! We bring to our professional lives our whole self but I know there are still companies and environments where sharing our personal lives with our professional network would be hard! Oh and the drop offs get easier, but even after 20 years in the parenthood gig I sometimes get a little teary when mine kids dash out the door! You've got this."

"I remember it like it was yesterday, Oh the guilt!"

Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

Cayla says the reaction to her post has been "absolutely flooring" and she is taking great comfort in all the comments people are leaving - especially from parents of university-aged kids who can still relate.

"I'm so heartened by people from all different industries and countries sharing their experiences," she says. "For me, the take-home advice is that these emotions are normal, but kids of working parents so often grow up happy and well-rounded." 

"​I feel like I'm part of such a supportive community of working parents and anyone who needs a pick-me-up should read these comments."

Hear, hear Cayla. Let's all help each other.

And just remember mamas, as difficult as it is, there is a lot of pleasure that comes with getting back into your career. And having a coffee and a toilet break all on your own. Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied