Dealing with Daycare Separation Anxiety

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This past spring I felt that my home business was growing to the extent that it was taking a lot of time away from my children and my personal time. If I wanted to go even further with the business I would need either a nanny or daycare to free up time for me to grow. Over the summer we started sending our boys to our synagogue’s day care program. My older son, Ben, attends services with my husband every week there. So for Ben it wasn’t a new place or new people. For Adam who stays home with me – this was a totally new experience for him.

While I stayed home last year the boys went a couple hours here and there to the day care center at our gym.  So they have experienced a small amount of separation from me. An hour or two a few days a week was the standard amount time away from each other.  I recommend if you are nervous about starting day care with either a baby or a toddler who has never been before start them slowly.  When I was teaching full-time I would typically drop Ben off at the daycare or nanny for a couple hours 2 weeks before the school year started. This way it was not an unfamiliar place when he started going full-time.  This short amount of time that the child spends at the daycare or nanny can also alleviate any separation anxiety for the parents as they transition back into full-time work.  The parent gets to know the teachers or the nanny better, they get used to saying goodbye, and having time without their child.

As we started daycare the first two weeks this summer Ben was really excited, but then separation anxiety did start setting in.  What helped Ben was having some time with Adam in the morning to play and get settled then. So the teachers at the daycare center coordinated a time first thing for the boys to play outside together. This 20 to 30 minutes helped Ben get over his separation anxiety very quickly. This works well if you have siblings or a friend who’s child your child is already friends with.

For Adam, he has always had separation anxiety.  He doesn’t even want to walk into the door in the morning. I simply pick him up and have a routine with the classroom teacher to get him settled in quickly. I lift him into the classroom, hug and kiss him, give him to the teacher, and she takes him over to his favorite toy to distract him immediately, calming him.

I don’t recommend elongating the goodbye, or feeling guilty. If your child sees you feel badly dropping them off at daycare then they will feel that there’s something bad about dropping them off at daycare. If you just keep it quick, happy, and set up a routine they will transition into their day better.  Stick to this transition routine, and stay positive. For a young child like Adam who is only 18 months old and has been home his entire life up until now, a short daycare day is a huge change in his life.

In the morning after I drop off Adam I go to I drop off Ben. I simply give him a kiss goodbye and he starts  playing with his friends. When I walk back past the baby room I peek into Adams classroom and he’s busy happily playing.  Daycare and preschool give parents a chance to teach their child that school is cool from a young age. If you keep it upbeat and positive, they will come around to it being an upbeat and positive experience.  As a teacher, I will tell you that separation anxiety as at its highest during drop off in the morning. Most kids settle into school and have a great day. The following morning the separation anxiety returns. I know that Adam is having a great time playing with his friends, helping his teachers and his room, and is being taken care of while I’m out with him. I don’t feel guilty dropping him off because he cries in the morning. I know he’s going to be okay.  I have seen kids of ages  five or six have terrible separation anxiety in the morning and later during the school day are happily playing with their friends.  The worst separation anxiety I ever saw was from a six-year-old who when I taught her in the afternoon was a complete joy to have in my classroom.  Try to set up a plan with the classroom teacher every day to get your child settled in and comfortable. Work with your classroom teacher or the school counselor if the separation anxiety is extreme.

Another tip I have for older toddlers joining daycare for the first time is when you are home with your child talk positively about the teacher and their friends are making. Our daycare put out a newsletter with photos of what’s happening in the classroom each week, so I gave the photos to Ben and talked about his friends with him when we got home. We talked about how much fun he has playing with them every day. We talked about the fun things he’s learning in school.  Now he loves going to school! In fact,  yesterday he left the school building crying because he had to leave school!

If you’re returning to work immediately after your maternity leave and leaving your child to day care or with a nanny as I did when I left Ben at 4 1/2 months- there was no separation anxiety. Babies don’t understand that we can actually get up and be somewhere else. He went to school every single day for half a year with not a tear in his eye.  He was too little to understand. The older they get, closer to nine months to a year old they start to understand that mommy goes away. Remind them that mommy always comes back. Start with leaving them with dad while you go for groceries show them mommy goes bye-bye and comes back. Take a date with your husband or start daycare in small increments like I recommend. Small amounts of separation can ease a later larger transition.  I believe that consistently separating this past year from Ben helped him get over his separation anxiety quickly, he knows mommy always comes back. As I said that out loud just now he replied “yes.”

Legoland Fun in San Diego

If you follow My Petite Picassos on Instagram you’ll know that we recently went to Legoland, California. We had an amazing vacation and the boys had so much fun!

Compared to other theme parks in SoCal Legoland is really affordable!  We were able to go for $123.99 all together!  We had a Bogo coupon for buy one adult hopper ticket get another one free. Hopper tickets allow you to go in between Legoland and either the aquarium or the splash park. We chose the splash park, however we were only at Legoland one day and we didn’t end up going there.  Kids under three years old are free at Legoland so the boys got in with for free. This was a lot cheaper than last year when I paid $300 a day for myself and my husband at Disneyland. Legoland is not as magical as Disneyland nor as large, but it definitely is a great theme park!

We went on a Saturday in July and while it was crowded it was not overcrowded. We downloaded the Legoland app to find out which rides had the shortest wait time. We only waited a long time for a boat ride. Even though my boys are young toddlers they were able to enjoy a variety of rides and activities. They had several boat rides and cruises through at the same park that the boys could go on, a carousel, a train ride, and little car rides. A lot of the boat rides and such are going past full Lego exhibits such as the Lego towns/monuments or fairytale stories.  I loved seeing Las Vegas made out of Legos, so much detail-they even had a pool party at one of the hotels!

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It was more challenging to find things for Adam to do than Ben. Ben even got to ride some rides by himself! A lot of rides are appropriate for ages three and up however they do have a whole Duplo Town for little guys . Duplo Town is where we rode the train and there was a large playground.  When my husband to take Ben on rides I would walk around with Adam and take him to the area where you can build with large Legos or go in search of characters. One of the favorite places in the theme park for the boys was the area where they could build Lego cars and race them!

Th hands on activities kept the boys busy for at least 45 minutes to an hour and we found ourselves prying them away to check out rides or get something to eat.

New Schedule

Hey there. I’m going to start posting every Saturday. I will continue posting recipes, art activities, and parenting articles. I’ve been working really hard on my business from home. Now I would like to have a little fun and return back to my blog.  If you’ve been following me on Instagram you know that the boys and I went to Legoland recently, I will be posting about our experience and tips for Legoland trips.  I also plan to write an article very soon about separation anxiety and daycare. So those are two articles you can look forward to and please continue to follow me on Instagram!

One is One, Two is Twenty

One is one

That’s what my mom told me my cousin said about having two littles back to back.  Today it dawned on me as we did a 6 hour drive to San Diego how much easier it would be with one child and how much more attentive to that child I would be.

For a short 18 months I was Ben’s mom, only Ben’s mom.  Ben’s mom who had books in the backseat of the car and gave him one every morning on our drive to daycare.  Ben’s mom who sat on the floor and played with him everyday after work.  Ben’s mom who had weekly arts and crafts activities planned to the last detail for the nanny to complete with him.  Then I became a mom of 2 under 2.

If it had been just Ben for this trip we are on I would have had a bunch of handmade busy bags made for him, I would have sat in the back seat playing and reading to him, and I would have had home cooked snacks like quinoa muffins for the trip.

Instead Ben and Adam were occupied with a little Mickey Mouse on the IPad, lollipops, and singing to each other.  I sat in the front seat unable to do much when one got antsy – other than talk calmly to my child as their father pulled off on the closest exit.

The mom I’ve become forgets to pack bibs and a dressy top for the trip because I’m so busy trying to keep an eye on two very active toddler boys.  I hardly get to play on the floor with them because I’m running after them with the dustpan and folding laundry.  Two toddler boys = buried in laundry!  They may not have quinoa muffins, but I did make the pb and honey sandwiches and stock the back seat with all their favorite snacks.

It’s hard not to think that I was more attentive to Ben as a mom of one and he reaped the rewards of that, however he is reaping far more having a little brother who has brought so much happiness into our home and hearts.  I wish I could be that perfect mom that I was to Ben to both of them-but it’s a different kind of balance for me now.  Rather than working full time as a teacher and coming home-giving Ben 110%, I’m working part time building a business around my boys’ schedule. I was for a year a full time stay at home mom and I do feel I was more attentive to my boys than I am now, but I have an opportunity that I need to take advantage of-and in the long run could pay off in more than one way for my family. I do catch my moments during the week that I am able to sit and play instead of clean or cook, some nights they even listen to me read stories, and swim classes on weekends are one on one time with mom.

About a year ago I signed up the boys for a mommy and me art class. Ben didn’t want to go in the class as there was a playground he was more interested in and Adam started to sympathy cry.  Both boys crying I brushed it off, walked inside the class to a bunch of stares from moms who had one quiet, on task child.  A dad looked at his wife and said “And you want a second?!?!” Yeah I’ve had kids fighting in the cart in the checkout line, and both crying when they clunk heads on the trampoline—but they’re best friends.  Adam made our family complete-maybe it’s messy, and we’re running late to EVERYTHING, and I don’t have a bib in my diaper bag on our trip to San Diego.  Maybe that’s our imperfect perfection.

I don’t know how moms of 3, 4, or more manage.  The laundry piles must be up to the ceiling!  I’m amazed by my friends of 3+ -they’re a lot more brace than me.  I’m happy with my two boys-they’re best friends and I feel that my family is complete.  I’m done with vomiting through my first trimester and sleepless nights with a newborn.  Im glad I experienced the first ultrasound, the first time I held my boys in my arms, and the first steps-but I look forward to finding Liza again.  She’s lost somewhere between work and piles of laundry.  It’s temporary, but I’m making way for me time.

Am I complaining?  About laundry and not enough “me” time-yes.  About being a mom-NEVER.  Balance-it’s all about balance.  Balancing was easier with one, and went totally out the window with two-but since they’re so close in age it’s coming back sooner than later.

One day I’ll yearn for this busy, sometimes chaotic time back.  My cherubs will grow into teenagers who will be busy with friends and school.  One day they will be men with families of their own.  My laundry loads will diminish and I’ll get to that bucket list, just not now.