Leaving Baby for the First Time

Leaving Baby for the First Time

The moment is here. Your partner has been not-so-gently hinting that you need a date night out. You agree but are reluctant to leave your new baby. Your couple relationship is important to you and you really would like a break too, so you decide to go for it. How can you make the separation easier?

 

Tips for Mom

Have a trial run with your caregiver

Ask someone you are super comfortable with leaving your baby, such as another Mom, or a relative that you trust.

Phone home as much as you need to in order to feel secure.

Say a quick good-bye, hug and leave fast.

Leave a shirt or receiving blanket that smells like you.

Go to something you can focus on such as a movie or show. Dinner is too unstructured and your thoughts may turn to worry.

Post a list on the fridge of what helps calm babies’ crying, positions she likes, food and bath preferences, sleep routine and individual quirks.

Make sure your caregiver and you share the same philosophy. Ask questions such as “How long do you think baby should cry before you pick her up?” to gauge suitability.

Don’t do it again unless you feel ready.

Don’t worry if you only last half the time you planned. It’s natural to feel that way.

 

Tips for Partner

Recognize this is huge for her

Allow her to do what she needs to do in order to feel comfortable.  If she needs to cling to her phone, don’t tease her!

Acknowledge her feelings of guilt, worry and anxiety; she is being pulled two ways between wanting to go out and wanting to stay with baby.

Let her phone home as much as she needs to.

Let her talk about the baby as much as she wants to.

Let her go home if she is overwhelmed. This is still a very natural and healthy attachment at this stage. If her baby is going to university and she still can’t bear to go home, then it might be a problem! She will love you all the more for your understanding to her needs.

As the famous quote by Elizabeth Stone says, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”  Leaving your “heart” for the first time is a huge step of many toward interdependence for you and your child. Do it whenever you feel it is right.

 

 

Separation Anxiety: The $120.00 Swim Lesson- Should you push them to go or let them drop it?

This was the summer my son was going to learn how to swim!  He was seven and old enough to agree to the lessons when I asked him in March.  I signed him up and paid the $120.00  Come July, he was feeling more anxious about it and resisted going the first day.  Once again, I’m faced with the age-old parenting question: “Should I make him go, or let him stay home?”

As a parent, we want to provide our children with a taste of the many wonderful experiences that life can offer.  We flip through pages of booklets of the many offerings of classes, daycamps, preschools and envision our child loving the sports, art, music, science lessons, camps and activities.  We take time to sign him up, write checks, arrange transportation, and prepare him for the first day.  The first day arrives and he doesn’t want to go.  What to do now?  Should we drag him to the activity kicking and screaming, or give in and let him miss?

It depends on your child and your goals for the activity. Does your child usually complain until he gets there and then loves it? Or does your child complain loudly the whole time he is there and all the way home?  Did you sign up your child to acquire skills, socialize a bit more, or for a little down time for you?

I would suggest the “Nudge, but don’t Force” approach.  Encourage him to go the first day and try it out.  One day. This is giving the child informed consent.  He needs to experience what he is going to make a decision about and if he goes the first day and hates it, then let him drop the activity.  Most venues will give you the majority of your fees back, if you drop it immediately after the first day. If he loves it, then he will be glad you nudged him.  Like getting kids to try new foods, one bite is enough to know if it will work for them or not at that time.  If you can’t get a refund, don’t worry about wasting the money.  It’s better to build trust with your child in that he will try new things if you don’t force him to attend the whole way through in the name of “committing to the agenda.”  Many adults get second chances and can drop out of things they don’t like.  As children get older, you can teach the importance of committment with chores, friends and homework, rather than with activities. If you force them to attend the activity the whole course, you risk teaching them to hate the very activity you were hoping they would love. If it’s skills, socialization or time to yourself that is the goal, is there another way to achieve it?  Is it the right time to work on that now?

If you have a quiet, shy or anxious child, promise to stay with him and leave in baby steps as per his comfort level. Again, building trust is important.  Ignore complaints from staff that will recite their “No Parents Allowed” policy.  You know your child best and need to act in his best interests.  Research supports a gradual leaving of your child and building trust in your relationship that you will fulfill your promises of staying until he no longer needs you. Child program professionals should understand that the importance of your child’s comfort level and it should supercede any perceived concerns that ” it will show favouritism to one child”  if their parents are allowed to stay.  If the venue or staff will not let you stay, consider a more parent-friendly program or venue and also consider if your child is really ready.  Sometimes a few months or weeks of further emotional or social development is all your child needs to push his independence further.

In the end, my son didn’t go back after the first day of swimming lessons.  However, he trusts that if he tries something new, he has the power to trust his instincts about whether the choice is right for him or not and have those instincts respected by his parents.  That is worth more than $120.00

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