Guest author: Vanessa Liney
Okay, so I know this blog isn’t pregnancy related, but it’s a subject close to my heart and one I experienced this weekend. It marked a new milestone in my mummy life. I knew the moment would eventually come, after all, I’ve been dreading it since the day my son was born.
I finally cut the baby strings and headed to London to spend a fun-filled weekend dancing, eating, sight-seeing and celebrating a friend’s upcoming nuptials; AKA the Hen Weekend!
I gave myself plenty of pep talks over the weekend, which, of course, were teamed with wine, cocktails and vodka—for “medicinal purposes” I might add.
Instinctively I knew that my son would be okay; he’s six months old and happy to spend time with anyone that makes a fuss over him, gives him his bottle and entertains him. To be fair, I’m not even sure if he noticed my absence. (Inserts sad face here.)
But for me, the absence was so much harder. For one, I spent the whole weekend away from the haven that I call home which loosely translates to movies, cuddling on the sofa with my kids and dear hubby, lots of cups of tea and my faithful comfy onesie—although not necessarily in that order.
I also needed to remember how to dance (successfully passed, although that might be debatable), walk in heels (failed miserably), hold my drink (failed miserably) and not totally disgrace myself in public like the lightweight I’d now become (barely passed).
My reality, my whole world for the past six months has been changing nappies, cleaning up vomit, sleepless nights and wearing the same dirty jumper five days in a row because I haven’t been able to bring myself to wash it AGAIN.
Did I also mention sleepless nights?
Not that I’m complaining. After all, it’s the life I signed up for, right?
We hear so much about separation anxiety in babies and children and advice given to help our children adapt to our absence, but what about us poor mums?
How do we deal with the anxiety of being separated from our children?
I left my son and daughter in the very capable hands of my husband, but in a couple of weeks we’ll be leaving them overnight with a family member and I know that will be so much harder. I must accept that everyone does things differently. We’ve spent months perfecting “our” routine and the fear is no one else knows them in the same way we do. However, children and babies can be incredibly adaptable to their environment and from previous experience with our oldest, she manifests into an angel whenever we’re out of sight.
So, this is what I have learned from my time away and hopefully, as the months pass each time I leave my babies it’ll get easier.
Remember that taking time for yourself is not a crime; it’s important for your health and sanity. It helps you to reconnect with a life outside of being a mum. It doesn’t have to be a night away either. A coffee with friends, shopping or a session down the gym is a great place to start. However, in the early months, if you find leaving your baby too hard, then don’t force it. Wait until you’re totally ready.
You’ll also feel happier and more confident the more times you do leave and come back to find everything went well, everyone is happy and healthy and your child’s bond with you will also grow as they realize you always come back to them.
Evidence also shows that as humans evolved we co-parented in large groups, with the responsibilities being shared by multiple people. Allowing our children to be cared for by others will increase their feelings of being part of an extended unit. In the long run, their confidence will grow as will yours.
Know that the anxiety will go away over time and that attachment to our children doesn’t necessarily mean we must be with them 24/7.
For me the hardest part was saying goodbye, but having received plenty of advice on the matter myself, the best thing we can do is to kiss them and hug them, say our goodbyes and leave. Whatever you do, don’t turn back, it’ll only upset you even more.
As I mentioned, I left our son with his dad but and in a few weeks, will be leaving him with his aunt and uncle. It’s important to make sure your child knows the person who will be looking after them; consistency is the key and you’ll be happier knowing that that person knows your child and your child is comfortable and happy with them.
I haven’t quite mastered the guilt yet of leaving them though, so, when I do figure that one out I’ll let you know.
If any ladies reading this have any advice please share and help us mums out. Spread the wisdom.
I’m also pleased to report that my weekend was a total success. I returned feeling invigorated and more like myself than I have done in a while and everyone was happy to have me home. (Inserts big smiley face here.)
The house had been cleaned, dinner was cooking and the washing had been done.
I might go away more often.
Vanessa Liney is a wife and very proud mum of two gorgeous children. She is also the creator of The Pregnancy Pantry blog, a site dedicated to nutrition, recipes and a blend of lifestyle, well-being and health throughout pregnancy.