Hi Is This Normal,
I have such a hard time being away from my boys, age 1 and 4. Even leaving them for a couple hours makes me feel super anxious and like I’m doing something wrong. Is this normal? How do I manage my anxiety about being away from my boys?
Always Home, Never Alone
Dear Always Home, Never Alone,
Awwww mama, I feel you on this, and so many parents reading this can relate. We hear a lot about mother child separation anxiety from our child’s perspective. But you know what? Moms feel it too! We’ve spent the vast majority of our time caring for our kids. We nurture them and see to their basic needs by wiping their tears and fixing their boo-boos. So much of our lives—and our identities—can get wrapped up in being their mom. So yes, it’s totally normal to feel some measure of anxiety and guilt when you’re away from them, even if it’s just a couple of hours.
You know what the experts say about helping your child manage separation anxiety? Assure them they’re safe and secure, make sure they know you’re coming back, and make a quick exit. A lot of that can be applied when it comes to managing your own mother child separation anxiety, too. You’re leaving your child, but you’re not leaving your child, you know? You’re going to be back shortly, they are going to be well-taken care of in your absence, and will most likely have fun with their caretaker while you’re away.
I think it might help for you to stop trying to NOT feel anxious when you’re away from your boys. It’s not a switch you can turn off! It’s completely normal (and a sign of a strong maternal bond) to feel not quite right when you’re not with your kids. It’s not always going to feel comfortable, especially at these young ages. But there’s a difference between acknowledging those feelings and beating yourself up over them. Guilt is a common emotion for moms—but it’s not useful or helpful.
It also may help to prepare a bit more for when you have to leave. Try coming up with a fun good-bye routine to go through with your kiddos. A song to sing with them, a special book to read, even a secret handshake or hug. Then establish a check-in schedule with the caretaker while you’re out; for every hour you’re away, they can send a picture or quick text to let you know the boys are happy and having a good time.
Try to keep from constantly checking in or worrying about how they’re doing. Your babies are with someone who loves them, and they are just fine. When you come home, they’ll be thrilled to see you! It will definitely get easier as your boys get older, but these early years are hard on our mama hearts.
Home is Where the Heart Will Always Be,
Is This Normal