Caring for Family

Learning to Let Go: 10 Ways to Manage Separation Anxiety

10 Ways to Manage Separation Anxiety

Saying goodbye as you head out for work can be a hand-wringing, tearful scene. We expect this from our little ones, as the formation of attachment – along with the fear of losing that attachment – is a developmental milestone. But what if the one with lump in her throat is you? In a recent study conducted by Working Mother magazine, 67 percent of the working moms they surveyed experienced separation anxiety when returning to work. Here are some tips to help ease your mind from 9-to-5, or any time you leave baby with another caregiver.

  1. It’s going to be ok. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that working outside the home will not harm your child. According to the American Pediatrics Association, a well-adjusted, well loved, and well cared for child will thrive regardless of whether his mother works outside the home.
  2. Choose your daycare provider carefully. Only use a provider if you have complete confidence. Having absolute trust is essential to your peace of mind.
  3. Develop a goodbye ritual. It’s good for both baby and you. If your child is comforted, and transitions well, you’ll feel better leaving him. It’s hard not to feel heartbroken when your baby cries and reaches for you – even if you know your child will be OK. Keep it calm and consistent for everyone’s benefit.
  4. Bring a photo to work with you. On your desk or in your wallet, sneak a look and remind yourself that you’ll see that smiling face again in just a few hours.
  5. Cut yourself some slack. All the feelings you are having are natural and part of the long-term bond you’ll have with your child.
  6. Know that no one can take your place. Remember that while caregivers come and go, you’ll be around for the long haul. When the minutes feel like hours, think about all the years you’ll have together.
  7. Ask for updates. Ask to be sent emails, texts and photos throughout the day – but leave the check-ins up to your provider. Interrupting them throughout the day will distract them from their most important job – caring for your child. Most daycare providers will provide you with a daily report at the end of the day, with basics like diaper changes, feedings, naps and behavioral notes so you can feel connected.
  8. Talk about it. Are there other moms in the office you can confide in? A friend who you can call if you’re feeling really blue? Sometimes just talking it out can release the build-up of anxiousness and get you through the day.
  9. Take care of yourself. Nurture yourself as much as possible. You’ll be working double shifts now, so make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthy and take time for small indulgences.
  10. Be careful. If you find yourself too distracted to work, are inconsolable or begin to slip into a depression, it might be time to see your doctor, midwife or a mental health professional. Postpartum depression can strike any time in the first year, and while separation anxiety is normal, if you can’t beat it alone, ask for help.