Monday, December 08, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Don't Leave Me!

Separation anxiety.  If you're a parent, you know what I mean.  It raises its ugly head in so many different ways. 

Around 5 months, your child first begins to realize that you're not always around.  And usually that's not a happy discovery.  But separation anxiety arises slightly later.  At 5 months, a child realizes you're gone.  At 8 months, the child is capable of realizing you're leaving.  And that's where separation anxiety kicks in.

If you work outside the home, then chances are, you've experienced this at daycare dropoffs.  But moms who stay at home aren't immune to separation anxiety.  It's not like they never leave their children!

And separation anxiety is not a one time thing.  It comes in waves, peaking at different points.  For us, it was most intense at 13 months.  During which time, if we sat Thatbaby down on the floor for a moment, he became hysterical.  But it showed up again at 18 months.  And every now and then we still get glimmers of it.

So how do you deal?  I've heard so many different solutions.  Most of which involve ignoring and walking away.  Like ripping a bandaid off.  I can't say that this is a good or bad solution, and I think it's situation specific.

What we did was exactly the opposite of what is recommended.  Instead of leaving a crying child, I stayed.  "2 minutes" was the refrain.  And although I never actually stayed for 120 seconds, sometimes longer, sometimes less, it worked for us.  My child needed a little bit of acclimation time into his surroundings.  And once he was comfortable, he was okay with me leaving.  This is obviously not going to work for every child, but it harkens back to my constant mantra - figure out what works for your child and go with it.

It also helps to have really great caregivers - daycare providers, family, whoever you're leaving your child with.  We've been really lucky with that.  At daycare, as soon as I was ready to leave, Thatbaby was whisked away to pick out a special toy or look at pictures.  When we left him with a babysitter, she likewise would pull out something special to play with.  Distraction works wonders.

And my last words of advice, remember.  It's just a phase.  It won't last forever.  

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