I’m speaking to myself on this one, but I’ve also been learning a lot about how to navigate this phase, and I’ve picked up on some really helpful tips! I can only speak for myself based on my experience, but I feel that being a SAHM has contributed to Isla’s tight circle of people that she trusts. Her separation anxiety has been pretty constant since she was a couple months old. For us, this looks like her not wanting to be in the nursery at church without me in there. Or even when we’re out and about in public, if she had wondered too far (even still in the same room), she’ll start to cry and rush back over to me. At the same time, she loves people and is super friendly. She just so happens to want me around probably 95% of the time. I’m so thankful she also loves being with grandparents because that can be a lifesaver for when this mom needs a break! Anyway, here are some things I’ve learned from my experience along the way with having a child that has separation anxiety:
- Pray- I’m not saying this to be funny or cliché either. I’ve found myself having terrible dreams the night before an event where I know I’ll be putting Isla in childcare for a couple hours. In these dreams, Isla is miserable the whole time, and it makes me super uncomfortable because I hate pushing her into situations like that as her mom, the one she should be able to trust 100%. In reality, these are not just bad dreams though. This is real life. When she can be so miserable apart from me, the anxiety can run high. So one night as I was putting Isla to bed, I prayed with her about the upcoming day where she would need to be in childcare, asking God to help us both not to be nervous. But that if she did have a hard time and I needed to come get her, that I wouldn’t be worried or stressed about it. And that night, I felt as though I truly had given all my fears to the Lord. I slept well, and Isla even lasted the whole time with another caretaker the next day! I’m not counting on that being our new normal, but I’m grateful to have had the peace going into it. That was what changed my perspective the most.
- Don’t worry about establishing super high expectations- I used to create these ideal expectations and scenarios in my head where Isla loved going into the nursery by herself at church. And every time that didn’t happen, I’d find myself more and more discouraged. Finally, I decided to toss my currently unreachable expectations and be a little more flexible and relaxed.
- Keep trying- Even though I may not have those high expectations right now, it doesn’t keep me from trying. I still put Isla in the nursery at church each week, and in childcare for my MOPS meeting each month.
- Create opportunities as consistent as you can for them to be around other caretakers- My last point leads me into this next one, which is similar but adds an extra step. Along with your normal routine, be creative in thinking of ways to incorporate new opportunities for your child to experience being under the care of others. An easy way to start is by introducing one new person and having them watch your child often. I’ve found this to help Isla. She’s never been one to click right away with someone and trust them, but if she’s given the opportunity to build a relationship with them, we’re more likely to find success. And start within your home if you’re able. Having someone care for your child within their own comfort zone can be super helpful for the child as well.
- Enjoy-They’ll grow out of this before you know it! It will definitely get better in time. It may not be today, but being anxious about it definitely won’t help, so don’t stress! This can be the hardest tip to implement, especially all the time, but is crucial in getting through it with joy.
I’m grateful for my daughter teaching me so much beyond just how to parent. A lot of my flaws have become painfully clear to me since becoming a mom, but through realizing them I’m also seeing that there are always ways to improve.