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.”

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.

 

Breastfeeding Gear that I Love!

In my previous post I gave tips on breastfeeding for working moms, stay at home moms, and work at home moms.  I have recently nursed two babies in all 3 situations and have a lot of opinions about what works and what doesn’t.

breastfeeding gear

You might think it’s strange that a woman needs gear to breastfeed.  Duh, don’t I have all the gear I need?  Short answer is no, especially if I’m a working pumping mom, which takes me to my first item:

  1. Medela Pump in Style was my pump, still is, although I hardly use it anymore (I work at home now).  Now it’s not a hospital grade pump, but I still managed to feed two babies and work using this.  It comes with a black tote bag that has plenty of room for bottles, bottle wipes, and a nursing cover.  It has out pocket for your cell and keys.  It’s awesome for discreetly pumping at work. It’s also affordable- I found one on Amazon for only $204.
  2. Medela Quick Clean Pump Wipes were awesome for quickly cleaning up my pump parts at work.  When I got home I would hand wash or dishwasher clean (top rack only) my bottles, but at work I wiped down everything with these.  On Amazon you can order different quantities, I used to buy a 6 pack and it would last me 2 months.
  3. Milkmaid Goods Ponchos are my go to nursing covers.  They’re stylish enough to wear out and about, but stretchy and light enough to wear over my baby in the Las Vegas summer while nursing out and about.  I really love their products.  I cannot say enough.  Milkmaid Goods has their own site, but if you’re an Etsy addict they also have a shop on Etsy.
  4. Dr. Brown’s Bottles are the only bottles I used.  Yes, bottles for breastfeeding my pumped milk in.  They have these ventilator straws that keep extra air from entering your baby as he or she suckles.  This way they get far less gas.  I used to buy mine at Babies R’Us, but you can also pick them up at Wamart and Target.
  5. Jessica Simpson Clip Down Shelf Bra Nursing Camis are the best nursing cami.  Very well made and attractive.  They give great support and are convenient for a nursing mom to wear to bed, with sweats, under a cardigan, or a wrap dress.  I still wear them all the time.  Definitely worth the extra couple bucks.  I purchased mine at Motherhood Maternity.

If you’re a new mom an unsure what to buy for nursing or pumping these items will definitely assist you.  I’ll be writing more about my experiences as a working mom, stay at home mom, and work at home mom in the future.  I realize my experience is unique as I have been all three and I would like to pass on any wisdom I have on the topic to my readers and moms.

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.