Growing Apron Strings…A Separation Anxiety Tale

It is my personal opinion that motherhood should come with a life subscription of tissues. We’ve recently changed our schedule where Syd goes to stay with her grandparents every day. My husband works long days and sometimes long nights, which means that our little one doesn’t see her dad as much as she used to. Now instead of seeing her grandparents 2-3 times a week, she stays with them 5 times a week. The first week was difficult. Syd wanted to go for a ride, and enjoyed seeing her grandparents, but she didn’t want me and Jason to leave.  I forced myself to give her a quick snuggle and told her that Mommy and Daddy would come back and get her at the end of the day. Tearfully she allowed her Grandma to take her in the house, but her eyes caught me off guard. Hearing her cry “Mommy!” almost caused me to jump out the car and run back to get her. Fighting back the tears on the way to work, I said to my husband, “It’s official, separation anxiety has hit our family hard!”

I am learning that the best thing about the whole situtation is that it will end…eventually. Separation anxiety is fairly common and is good sign that a bond has been established between child and parents. Thankfully, my mom has assured me that Syd will get through this season and I am holding her to her word! 

According to Kids Health, it’s important for parents to say goodbye and not try to rush off when the child isn’t looking.  Other ways to ease the goodbye anxiety include:

  • Timing is everything. Try not to start day care or child care with an unfamiliar person when your little one is between the ages of 8 months and 1 year, when separation anxiety is first likely to appear. Also, try not to leave when your child is likely to be tired, hungry, or restless. If at all possible, schedule your departures for after naps and mealtimes.
  • Practice. Practice being apart from each other, and introduce new people and places gradually. If you’re planning to leave your child with a relative or a new babysitter, then invite that person over in advance so they can spend time together while you’re in the room. If your child is starting at a new day care center or preschool, make a few visits there together before a full-time schedule begins. Practice leaving your child with a caregiver for short periods of time so that he or she can get used to being away from you.
  • Be calm and consistent. Create a exit ritual during which you say a pleasant, loving, and firm goodbye. Stay calm and show confidence in your child. Reassure him or her that you’ll be back — and explain how long it will be until you return using concepts kids will understand (such as after lunch) because your child can’t yet understand time. Give him or her your full attention when you say goodbye, and when you say you’re leaving, mean it; coming back will only make things worse.
  • Follow through on promises. It’s important to make sure that you return when you have promised to. This is critical — this is how your child will develop the confidence that he or she can make it through the time apart.

 Just think, if we fast forward to 13 years from now, I will probably be composing a blog on how my child now a teenager wants nothing to do with me…the joys of parenthood!


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