Today is the fourth week of our One Year & Beyond series and I have been really enjoying all the advise and tips and experiences everyone has to share! This week we're discussing one of the hardest parts of being a mom, separation anxiety and the guilt that goes along with it.
At 2 1/2 O rarely struggles with separation anxiety anymore. Every once in a while he'll be extra attached to me, like after I was away at BlogHer for a couple days (more on BlogHer tomorrow!), but he is usually pretty happy to get some play time in with someone other than me, since I'm who he spends 98% of his time with. But he wasn't always this easy.
There is nothing easy about leaving a baby that will freakout upon your departure. It makes everything difficult. No date nights, doctor / hair / nail appointments, no solo-grocery shopping, no going to the gym. You're pretty much in what a friend and I like to call Baby Jail.
As moms, some of us assume the role of martyr and tell ourselves that we're fine being physically attached to our baby 100% of the time, but there is no doubting the value in the recharge you get from having a little time to yourself! I know I have needed a recharge everyonce in a while. I go weeks without being more than a few loving heartbeats away from O. Even a short trip to Safeway can be refreshing, but a trip to Target + a pedicure is rejuvinating! Life giving, even.
That's why I think it's so important to talk about separation anxiety, so we can all get a little "me time" every once in a while, feel okay about it and return home recharged!
These are the 5 steps I take when I'm leaving O so that he feels okay with my departure and I feel fine leaving him.
Timing is Everything - When I have to leave O I usually try to leave while he and whoever he is staying with are doing something he enjoys i.e., watching his favorite movie / show, playing outside (but never where he can see me drive away), eating something he likes. This way he feels happy where he is and is less likely to want to come with me or be sad that I'm leaving him.
Emphasize That Mommy Is Coming Back - Toddlers don't have a great concept of time. A few hours without mommy can feel like forever. Luckily, O knows his own schedule, so I can tell him "I will be back when you wake up from your nap" and he understands and accepts that I'm leaving. When I leave him at the gym child care I tell him the same thing, emphasizing that I'm going to do a "quick" workout and be right back for him.
Say Goodbye - Never sneak out behind your child's back. It seems like the easiest option to slip out the front door when they are occupied with an activity, but they will feel abandoned when they realize you left without saying goodbye. Say goodbye, but don't make a big deal out of it. Even just a quick "I love you" and a kiss on the head is enough, especially when your child is upset. The longer you draw it out, the harder it will be for them to transition when you leave -- they will only get more worked up.
Once You're Out The Take a Deep Breath and Relax - There is no sense in leaving for some "me time" just to worry about your child the whole time you're gone. I know this is easier said that done, but try to relax and enjoy yourself! I try to remember that whoever is caring for O will call me if there is an emergency. No news is usually good news!
Leave a surprise - When leaving for more than a few hours I usually prepare a schedule, a list of emergency information (including our address, home phone number and the number for Poison Control), a list of foods O likes and a "bag of tricks". The bag usually includes things like a craft from the dollar section, a new 99 cent hot wheels car, something to do outside or glow sticks, a fun healthy snack and a treat. This is also a great time to re-corporate toys I've taken out of rotation.
So those are the steps I take to make leaving O a bit easier. Getting used to leaving him at the child care at our gym was a bit different and involves much less preparation.
What do you do to prepare your child and yourself for being apart? Link up with us below and share your invaluable tips with us and be sure to check out the other mamas in our series for their helpful posts.
Aug 7: Car Trip Necessities
Aug 14: Deciding when the time is right for baby #2 (and/or how to handle these questions)
Aug 21: Tricks for eating out with your toddler
Aug 28: Feeling confident as a mom (How to feel this way, Your struggle with, etc.)