How to deal with separation anxiety as a mum returning to work | Jobs for Mums Malta

Melanie Drury July 19, 2016

How to deal with separation anxiety as a mum returning to work

While separation anxiety tends to bring up mental images of red-faced teary-eyed babies screaming for mummy, it is often you - the mum - who will experience the first pangs of separation when you return to work, whether it is straight after maternity leave or even a few years since your baby was born.

At ten weeks or so, your baby is too young to experience separation anxiety, and will tend to be quite content as long as he or she is being fed, having the nappy changed, enjoying sufficient nap time and feeling loved. Children aged six to eighteen months old may show signs of baby separation anxiety, however this is a normal development process which can also be dealt with.

But Mums who have recently changed their entire lives to revolve around the little creature will invariably find it challenging to adapt to a new situation where they must leave their baby - they will experience worry or guilt, for instance.

About 70% of working mums experience separation anxiety when they first return to work. So how to deal with it? Take the following steps to make the transition as easy as possible for you and your baby:

Managing childcare

  • Know your nanny - get to know your caregiver personally so as to build a trusting relationship. This applies whether your child has a nanny or goes to a child-care centre.

  • Stay involved - select one or two times per day when you will check in on your caregiver for an update on the situation. Have defined scenarios, such as uncontrollable crying or if your baby is ill or hurt, when she will call you and let you know. Request to be told about the number of nappy changes, feedings and naps on a daily basis.

  • Do not police - hourly calls, surveillance cameras and a detailed update of your baby’s every move and whimper will only put stress on all concerned. If you do not trust your caregiver, find someone else who you can trust. Do trust your own gut instincts without being overbearing.

Dealing with emotional issues

  • Keep a positive frame of mind - rather than dreading the change, try to feel excited at the better prospects that returning to work will give you and your baby.

  • Keep an eye on the rewards - the joy you feel when you see your baby at the end of the day, the self-actualisation you can experience in your career, the salary cheque at the end of the month; these are all valid things to feel grateful for.

  • Keep the guilt at bay - whether this is about leaving your baby or about the secret relief you feel to be on your own, forgive yourself and remember that the best mum for your baby is you, just the way you are.

  • Don’t succumb to beating yourself up - no matter the situation, if your mind starts chattering negative thoughts, call your partner or a friend for a quick pick-me-up dose of support.

Enjoying quality time with your child

  • Be part of special events - ask your caregiver to keep you updated with important developments as they happen., such as first steps, if you happen to miss them. Then, be grateful for the news, photos and videos rather than beating yourself up for not having been there. Remember that nobody can replace you; it is just that your baby has more people to care for and love him or her. Make sure you celebrate the event with your child later when you get home.

  • You remain no. 1 - do not feel that your childcare authority has been handed over to someone else. If you notice any behaviour or development issues, talk to your partner, other mums or your baby’s pediatrician.

  • Enjoy playing at being Mum - since it is no longer your full-time job, you can enjoy it more. Spend more time playing with your child, prepare fresh organic baby food, knit a matching hat and booties or do whatever puts you in the mood and makes you feel that you are doing the best for your child with your given time.

When it feels too much to handle

Bear in mind that one in five mums will experience some form of postpartum depression, which may include mood swings, irritability, anxiety, excessive sadness or guilt, fatigue, insomnia and / or a change in appetite. It is normal to experience some of these symptoms postpartum, however, if they feel excessive or persist, seek the advice of your doctor.
Image Copyright : Oleg Dudko