It’s hard to be away from our little ones, to say goodbye and leave.
Sometimes we part from them because we have to, say to go to work, and sometimes we leave them behind to we can do something ‘just for us’.
Either way, when you leave your little one behind, it’s not unusual to worry that you might be damaging them in some way.
Like some how they will be irreversibly traumatised by our absence.
Here’s the issue: On one hand you gain so much from separating from your kids and living your own life (even if it’s just for a few hours), but on the other hand, it means that you’re not there for your kids.
So while you feel fulfilled and content, you are also left struggling with conflicting feelings of guilt, fear and confusion.
The struggle between doing things just for us and being unwaveringly available for our kids is familiar to every mom, as are the accompanying thoughts and feelings.
But, ironically, these thoughts and feelings can be so invasive, that they can actually disrupt our ability to provide our children with the sense of trust and safety we endeavour to provide them.
In other words, how you manage your anxiety around leaving your kids will set the stage for their experience of your absence.
So here are a few tips to help you stay present and confidently separate from you child when they are less than enamoured by your departure:
1.First, it’s necessary to consider your values, ask yourself what’s important to you, and evaluate your choices accordingly. Try to imagine what it would be like if you stayed; if you avoided any activities that entailed a disruption to you and your child’s normal, everyday routine. Would you be denying yourself anything and if so, how would that impact your well-being and as a consequence, your children’s wellbeing. How would not separating from your kid affect your ability to be present, patient and attentive to there needs?
Because we all know that a mommy who doesn’t do for herself, can’t do for her kids.
2. Second, if you decide to depart from your regular schedule, be sure that your children are in the care of someone you like and trust.
Obviously you will only leave your child in another’s capable hands, but if you have any fears or doubts about their ability to provide for your children’s emotional and practical needs in your absence (keeping in mind that there is no one like mom herself) your children will feel less assured. Consequently, their behaviour will reflect their insecurity and you will only feel more concern. A tough cycle.
Again think about the qualities that are important to you in a substitute caregiver and look for someone who meets your criteria. If you feel safe and trusting, your children will too. Not only because they feel safe in the presence of the substitute caregiver, but they feel safe knowing that you do too.
3. Finally, when you decide to separate from your children, and leave them in the care of another trusting adult, it’s important that you stay in tune with your experience of the separation. Notice what feelings come up for you and acknowledge them. You may still feel uncomfortable with pursuing your own, individual interests but be sure to own those feelings as your own lest you erroneously project them onto your child.
That is, it’s important that you recognise and accept your thoughts and feelings around pursuing your interests, and parting with your child, so that you can recognise and acknowledge your child’s individual experience and attend to their emotional needs, rather than being overcome by your own.
Take comfort in know that when you decide to pursue your personal interests, know that you are modelling self value to your children. That means that when your kids grow up they will have an easier time valuing their individual interests and pursuing them.
Also, don’t forget that creating distance between you and your children affords them the opportunity to experience themselves as complete individuals, which supports the development of self-assurance and resilience.
So, in spite of your hesitation, leaving your kids (when they feel safe and assured) is not only good for you, but it’s good for them too.