Leaving your baby the first time can be emotional. Would you be surprised to learn that babies don’t suffer separation anxiety nearly as often as their moms do? It’s a natural emotion that every new mother experiences.
You know that it’s healthy to spend time alone with your partner or on your own, but you carried this child inside you for nine months and the two of you have been together every minute since the birth. It’s no wonder that leaving this small miracle the very first time makes you feel anxious and empty!
Take a small step and have someone watch the baby while you’re at home. This can be especially reassuring if you’re adjusting to a new childcare provider since you’ll have the opportunity to see that they care for your baby the same way you would. Observe, but don’t hover. This is a chance for you to get used to someone new taking over some of your duties, and a time you can catch up on household chores or simply take a nap. You’ll learn to be comfortable leaving the baby in the care of someone else while still being just steps away.
The first time you leave the baby don’t make it for a weekend away! Taking too long a break initially will increase your anxiety and leave you feeling guilty and miserable. Try leaving for short periods of time – run to the store or have coffee with a friend. Slowly increase the amount of time that you’re away from the baby at a pace that is comfortable for you. This is especially important if you are planning to go back to work. Easing yourself into time away will make that first day back on the job far less traumatic for both of you.
Don’t feel bad if you cry. This is a normal feeling you need to acknowledge. Calling home to check on the baby will reassure you. And don’t feel guilty if you end up enjoying a little time away. Even the most devoted parent needs some down time. It isn’t selfish or unfeeling to want time alone or to enjoy resuming your activities. Make your time away special – go to exercise class, get your hair cut or have a leisurely lunch with your mate. Having you time is necessary to your well-being.
Now you’re ready for a date night out with your partner! Never forget it’s important to nurture that relationship too! With the schedule stresses new parents face, time alone together can be rare. Being able to leave your baby with a trusted caregiver allows new parents to relax and renew their relationship as a couple.
As you become more relaxed about leaving the baby those feelings will reassure the infant, too.