Dealing with Daycare Separation Anxiety

daycare
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.”

Marking Our Milestone

 

Ok, he’s not a baby anymore, he’s a toddler.  In the Jewish tradition you are not supposed to cut your son’s hair until 3.  At the 3 year old birthday mark on the Hebrew calendar (it’s a lunar and much older calendar than the Christian calendar) the boy has his haircut and there is a party to honor him coming into more spiritual awareness.  Prior to cutting Ben’s hair we met with my dear friend Maritza Nolasco to get photos of him done.  It was extra special having Maritza take these photos as she and I experienced pregnancy for the first time together down to a couple of days difference!  She has been a great supporter on my path to and through motherhood.  We started with some outdoor photos  in her yard and then followed to the pool to get some photos of his gorgeous hair as he swam!  milestoneIMG_0191IMG_0194IMG_0206IMG_0293IMG_0294

Even Adam got in on the photo fun and we have some incredible shots of the boys together.  If you live in Las Vegas and are looking for a professional photographer, who’s great with kids and very patient I suggest looking up Maritza on Instagram or Facebook!

These photos will mean so much to me in years to come.  It will remind me of this special time I am having with m boys, it marks a change in my firstborn from being a baby to a child.  I love his long waves, wheat blond from time spent in the Israeli never-ending summer sun, but I will love his short hair too.  He will look handsome and more grown up.  No more tangles and knots as I comb through it and no more “she’s so pretty” in the grocery store.  He will be a BIG BOY at last!

 

 

A Day in the Life of a Mom

momI realized a couple months back that I am in a unique situation in that I have been a full time working mom, a work at home mom, and a stay at home mom.  I think every new mom questions her choice to work or stay at home at some point.  The purpose of this post is to share with you what my schedule was like in each of these parenting situations.  Whether you are working and thinking of taking time off or staying home and starting to work in your home office part time, you can see how I managed and hopefully I will pass on some wisdom.

My Full Time Working Mom Schedule

5 AM:  Wake up, nurse and pump.  Put the baby back to sleep.  Get dressed for work.

6 AM: Make breakfast, run the Roomba, feed the dogs.

7 AM: Pump, wake up husband to be with the newly woken up baby and leave for work.

8 AM: Get to work, pump again, check emails, set up classroom, meetings, playground duty.

9 AM-11:30 AM: Teach

11:30 AM-1 PM: Lunch, pump, lunchroom duty

1 PM- 3:30 PM Teach

3:30 PM Leave work

4:00 PM Pick up baby from daycare or meet baby at home with nanny (we did both). Bath myself and baby.  Nurse, pump.  Baby napped.

6:00 PM Make dinner, make lunch for work, get bottles together for the next day or set aside frozen homemade baby food (my Saturday night project).

7:00 PM Read three books to baby, nurse and put to sleep.  Pump.  Watch a little TV and go to sleep.  I typically awoke 2-3 times a night to nurse and one time to pump.

My Stay At Home Mom Schedule

7 AM: Wake up with my baby and nurse. Change baby and go downstairs.  Coffee, let baby play while I catch up on the news.

8 AM: Toddler wakes up.  Change him, he comes downstairs too.  Feed the dogs, and give the boys milk.

8:30 AM: Wake up husband for work.  Get myself dressed, make breakfast for everyone.

9:30-11 AM: Clean up dishes, get the boys ready to leave, take them to their mommy and me class.

12-3 PM: Come home, have lunch, shower, and put the boys down for a nap.  Nurse the baby.  While they nap I start dinner, clean the floor, wipe off the countertops, do laundry, and dust.

3-5 PM: Let the boys free play.  I usually have a quiet play activity such as puzzles, a sensory bin, or an art activity as well.

5-6 PM: Make dinner, eat with the boys.

7-8 PM: Clean up dinner, put on our PJs, read stories and nurse baby.  After they go to sleep I could read or watch TV.

Schedule Variation -Work at Home Mom

7 AM- 8 AM: I work on the blog while the baby plays.

8 PM-10/11 PM: Work on my home business after putting the kids to bed.

 

Packing Tips from my Instagram Feed

packing tips

 

About a week ago we went on an 8 day family vacation in Sedona, Arizona.  Our Jeep was packed!  We have a shelf for our trailer hitch that we bungeed our suitcases and Ben’s sleeping bag on.  The dogs were in the trunk with the double stroller folded flat.  We had a cooler, diapers, and snacks for the trip.

I made three short videos describing how I packed for the trip and entertained my two toddlers.  Check them out and check out my Tips for Packing for Kids on Vacation.
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​If your not following us on Instagram, please check out our feed as I update it almost daily with tips and fun kids art ideas! I also have a Twitter account that I update daily with great art and parenting tips.  If you have any awesome traveling with kids advice to share, please do so in the comments below.

Packing Tips for Kids on Vacation

packing

I think the biggest challenge of traveling with 2 tots is packing.  For a month in Israel I started packing 2 weeks before.  For our recent trip to Sedona which was 8 days I began packing 1 week prior.  After Israel, which was a long trip in the fall when the weather could turn either way, I learned a lot about packing.

1. Ziplock baggies make great organizers. For the trip to Israel I put each of Adam’s tiny baby outfits in a Ziplock bag.  The whole outfit-onesie, pants, socks, a diaper, and a long sleeve top.  I put all of his pajamas in one bag, all of Ben’s socks in a bag, and all of his sweaters and jackets in another bag.

2.  The rule of halves.  If you’re destination has affordable or free laundry use the rule of halves.  Divide the number of days you’ll be away in half and pack as many shirts, pants, dresses, etc.  Exception to the rule: take seasonal weather changes or frequent outfit changes into account.  For example, I figured for our recent trip to Sedona for 8 days the weather would be cool in the morning and at night, Adam typically needs an outfit change after breakfast-so I packed 4 warm shirts and 4 sets of pants for the morning to wear and 4 t-shirts and 4 shorts for midday.  I did laundry midway through our trip.

3. 2 pairs of shoes is all you need.  A dressy pair and sneakers.  A waterproof sandal and a pair of Toms.  Basically one special pair and an everyday pair of shoes. Don’t forget to pack them in your Ziploc.

4.  Take advantage of 1 piece dressing.  Rompers and dresses are prefect for diaper bags or travel and take up less space than separates.

5. Pack toys in backpacks.  Your toddler can carry on his/her own backpack with small books and manipulatives.  They feel special and grown up while you save space in your bag.

6. Don’t bring the kitchen sink! I had diapers, wipes, toys, bedding, and books waiting for us at my in -laws. They also had car seats and booster seats waiting for us.  My parents in New York had toys and diapers waiting for us at their house.  All of these items were borrowed from neighbors.  In Israel they do have rental baby gear for tourists so consider that when traveling abroad.  In San Francisco we had a rental car and car seats were rented too.

7.  Go light on the baby gear.  Umbrella strollers, sleeping bags, baby wearing are a lot easier than a pack and play or heavy stroller to pack and lug.

8.  Use a backpack diaper bag.  You can easily babywear in front and carry a backpack at the same time.

9.  Minimize your own packing. I gave up make-up since staying and did not pack a stitch of it to take to Israel.  I can use hair conditioner also as an in shower body lotion.  Little tricks like this save space for the kids stuff.

Stroller hooks, stroller carrying bags with straps, and a basic first aid kit are important to have on hand as well.  I always take Tylenol or Ibuprofen, DoTerra oils, and teething toys with us.  I have Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes downloaded on my Ipad and YouTube Kids on my IPhone to entertain.  We do a mix of busy bags and IPad time when we’re flying.

Traveling with babies and toddlers is one of the most brave things I’ve done.  I used to be very nervous about it and dread it, but now my boys are seasoned, world travelers.  I feel much more comfortable now that we have logged some miles and memories taking them on future trips.  What packing tips do you have for a first time traveling mom or dad?  What can’t you live without on trips to keep your kids entertained?  Please share in the comments below.

Rocking Motherhood Challenge

rockingmotherhood-1_fotorFirst of all I’d like to thank Elizabeth from http://www.worthwritingfor.com for including me in this challenge.  The challenge is to write around 10 or more ways in which I’m rocking motherhood.  That’s a funny thing to ask mom because most of the time I hear moms sounding concerned that they’re not doing enough! I’m definitely guilty of this, so to take account of my accomplishments might be a good thing to do.  We’ll see…

1.  I simultaneously potty trained and sleep trained the boys.  That was super challenging, but in the back of my mind was the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew the tough times would only last so long and they did.  By night 3 Adam wasn’t crying as I put him in his crib and after day 5 Ben started to use the potty.  No-it wasn’t like the YouTube videos where moms teach their youngest child to potty in an afternoon and the child was potty trained for life.  Ben had to warm up to the idea and be encouraged.  It took two attempts to train him, so if you’re struggling don’t worry-there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for you too.

2.  Ben and Adam are bilingual.  I wrote about this in a previous post.  My boys speak English and Hebrew.  While Adam is just starting to speak he speaks words in both languages and that is how Ben started.  For sure, their Aba (father) can take most of the credit as he is the fluent Hebrew speaker in the family, but I support any way I can and it has improved my Hebrew.

3.  I’m still nursing.  Nursing my boys has been such a huge bonding experience for us.  I was very I’ll after having Ben and I couldn’t nurse him until he was 6 weeks old.  I pumped and kept up my supply nevertheless and the persistence paid off!  I nursed him until he self-weaned at 12 months.  Adam is still going strong and that’s ok with both of us right now.

4.  I survived two under two.  Trust me any mom with two under two is not sleeping, not sitting, and not eating.  It’s tough-but awesome.  Cuddling up with both of them in the bed after work and reading before bed or tandem wearing on a hike.  Those are memories I will treasure of this time.

5. I’ve been a stay at home mom, a work at home mom, and a working mom.  I’ve balanced, juggled, and scheduled my heart out around my kids and work.  What I learned from these experiences is that the grass is always greener on the other side and no matter if you’re working or staying home the struggle is real.  Sure when I was working I had a nanny and cleaning service to take care of a lot at home, but I missed my boys like crazy.  Staying home is WORK too.  I have a busy day every day between keeping the boys busy, engaged, growing,  and learning.  When one has a nap the other is wake and I’m feeding and entertaining him.  I’m cleaning the house every chance I get.  I NEVER chill and watch daytime TV while eating bonbons!

6. I’m finding my SELF again. I’m writing this in a hair salon for crying out loud!  Every person needs a moment to take care of his or herself.  When I worked it was before makeup and hair work and these days it’s just a quick shower.  I joined a gym, though, and I go frequently to improve my physique after two babies and it also helps me have more energy to be with my kids all day.

7.  I have an amazing supportive group of mom friends.  In the stay at home mommy, Gymboree, toddler swim class, playgroup world there are a lot of cliques.  I’ve been embraced, included, left out, and in plenty of awkward situations.  It’s not easy.  A year ago  I had a totally different group of mom friends and it was a tough journey to find the group I have today.  What I learned along the way is don’t make friends just based on the ages of your kids, but really look for moms with common interests as you.  I have vegan friends, friends from Israel, and hiking friends.  Some of these women are teachers and some are entrepreneurs, but as people we’re friends before being mom friends.

8.  Introducing my boys to nature has been really fantastic for all of us.  I really relax when I get away from the city.  We hike, picnic, and take strolls.  We are part of a mommy group that babywears and hikes-its been really fun joining them.  I’ve made some new friends through this group.

9.  My husband asked me to include that I do it all for the home and my family.  I find time to take my boys to classes and teach them, cook meals, clean and do laundry, run all the errands with my two in tow, have a play group and a blog, and help him with his business. This is why I chose to stay home this year, to be present for my family.

10.  I have given my children memorable experiences that they may not remember as they’re too young but I have the photographic proof of and the stories to tell.  They’ve experienced the High Holidays in Israel surrounded by family members, Ben visited the original FAO Shwartz in New York City, I cooked my first Thanksgiving meal, we flew to San Francisco to see my relatives and have a surprise 70th birthday party for my uncle, but the best was taking Ben at 4 months old to meet my grandmothers at his first Thanksgiving.  They both passed while I was pregnant with Adam, but they both got to see Ben and see me fill their shoes as a mom.