Overcoming Separation Anxiety
“Don’t go Mommy!” Okay, so your baby can’t say those words yet. But that might be what they (and you) are thinking. Babies adapt well to other caregivers – as long as their needs are being met, babies under 6 months can adjust easily; more easily than it may be for you to leave baby behind, whether it’s going back to work, or just out for an evening.
Separation anxiety raises all kinds of emotions. You’ve bonded with your baby, and they need you. The hardest time for you to leave your baby is probably when they’re an infant. And you’re likely to feel guilty about taking time out for yourself. But it’s important for both you and your baby to have some time apart – baby gets used to new faces and you get some necessary time to yourself. Now is the time that you’re going to feel most overwhelmed by the amount of attention that your little one needs from you – it’s vital that the “overwhelming” doesn’t take over your spirit.
Practice Makes Perfect
Prepare to be apart from each other by introducing new people and places slowly. If you’re going to be leaving baby at a daycare facility, do a couple of trial runs so that you can meet the caregivers, and baby can get used to seeing you with them. Similarly, if you’re going to be leaving baby in your home with a trusted relative or babysitter, invite that person over ahead of time so that your baby and your trusted caregiver can spend time together while you’re there with them.
Back to Life
If you’ve been on maternity leave, leaving your baby at home may be harder than any work project you’ve had to tackle. The logistics alone can be daunting. And then there’s the guilt. Just remember: This is good for both of you. Here are some tips to make it a smidge easier:
- Have things ready to go the night before. It’ll be hard enough to say goodbye to baby without wondering where you put your purse (keys, shoes…).
- Get a schedule ready. We know that interruptions happen and baby has their own idea of whose timeframe is more important. But the closer you can get to staying on schedule, the better off you’ll be. And add some extra time – there will be mornings when you’re gonna want/need more snuggles before you head out the door, or just some extra time to savor another cup of coffee.
- Take breaks during the workday to go for short walks. This will help clear your head and the exercise will help get you back into shape.
- Talk to other moms at work. Find out how they cope with separation. You’re not alone and other new mommy's may have thought of things you haven’t.
- It’s okay to feel sad or a sense of loss. You’ve had that little thing tied to you for months now, and it won’t be easy to let go. But having a picture on your desk or phone will help you cope with being apart.
- Don’t worry about what you’re missing. Your baby might roll over for the first time, but the first time you see it is what’s most important.