Mom Parenting: Separation Anxiety
When my children were toddlers, I took a temporary, three-morning-a-week job. At the time I was pretty much a 24/7 mom, and I liked it that way. Still, taking the job seemed like a good opportunity for me and I was leaving them with a trusted caregiver, in their own house, with their own toys all around them. What could go wrong?
I worried about their separation anxiety, so, just to be sure they'd be okay, I prepared their lunches, their snacks, and their dinners (yes, my day at the office finished at 1pm, but just in case ...). I wrote out instructions about what they liked to do and eat and play and when they liked to do it, even though our sitter knew their routine better than I did. I even prepared a craft activity for them to do each day I was gone, leaving out the materials and instructions in the playroom, just in case they were bored or missed me. Of course, they didn't... and they were fine. (And it wasn't until several months later that I noticed that all those meticulously prepared crafts had remained untouched!)
The only one suffering from separation anxiety was me!
At the time, doing all that prep work was the only way I knew to go off to work and not feel so wracked with guilt for leaving them. And, truth be told, I was a little worried that they would stop loving me so much. Luckily, I finished the job before the stress of leaving the kids finished me.
But despite all the stress, leaving my kids was a valuable experience and I learned a lot during those months. So the next time a job opportunity came up, I leapt at the chance—and I left behind all of that crazy work I'd created for myself the first time. Because, as difficult as it was for me to leave my kids to go to work, I learned that it was actually healthy-for me and for my kids. In those few short months I was at work, my kids learned about independence, and relying on other adults and on themselves and on each other. And I began to see that whether I was there 24/7 or there just most of the time, or gone eight hours a day, I was still their mom, I could still care for them, and they would still love me.