Both of my children suffered from Separation Anxiety. Every time I dropped them off at a childminder’s they would wail and scream, flinging their little arms at me like I was abandoning them on the bleak, stone steps of a Dickensian Workhouse.
Back then I felt like I was splintering into a million pieces. I’d sit in my car and bawl into the steering wheel… Either that or go home and stuff my face with chocolate brownies. I didn’t deserve my children. I was the worst mother alive. There I was, slowly drowning in a dirty, great swamp of Mother’s Guilt.
So I turned to the Internet (as you do), scouring message boards for tips and solutions. Some worked. Some didn’t… Here are my Definitive Top 5 Tips for making that (heart)break a little easier on everyone:
Leave your child with a keepsake from home:
Something that smells of you/your perfume is even better. I used to twist one of my scarves around Emily’s teddy. When it was time to leave I would encourage her to cuddle it. To Emily, the soft, golden fur smelt of home and reassurance. The tears would subside. All was well again.
Chat about something you can do together later:
When I dropped Jess off I’d ask her what she wanted for lunch. It helped channel her emotional download into that age-old dilemma of bagel or baked beans. It became a ritual. Food distraction = swift, uncomplicated exit.
Easier said than done, especially when those little fists are locked tightly around your neck. I’d say my goodbyes in a calm but firm voice and then leave (whilst fighting every instinct to run back and cuddle away all of that insecurity and bewilderment.) Don’t be a chicken. Always say your goodbyes as it helps your little one to adapt. No one likes a dumper, least of all the dumped.
When in doubt…text!
I had a system with one childminder where she’d send me regular picture messages of Emily elbow-deep in playdoh. In turn, I would send her a few of me doing boring stuff at home. By doing this the kids knew I was alive (and how much fun their childminder’s house was compared to theirs), and I wouldn’t keep weeping into my laptop.
Mother’s instinct is usually right:
Emily never settled with one childminder. It was a mystery to us all. The woman was Ofsted Rated ‘Outstanding’, she was lovely and approachable, and best of all had a house like Toys ‘R’ Us. We persevered for a few months and then removed our daughter. Emily wasn’t happy and there was something niggling me about the whole set-up that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. As it turns out, one of the other children in her care had been biting and hitting Emily when she wasn’t looking. My friend had witnessed the whole thing one day in a baby class. Cue some MAJOR stomach-churning mummy guilt…….
In the end we tried Emily in a pre-school environment instead and that, combined with a few of the tactics above, made her Separation Anxiety evaporate by her second week. Always go with your gut! If you’re not happy try another childcare provider.
Let me know if any of these tips have worked for you too.