Monday 2 October 2017

6 Things To Consider When Leaving Your Child For The First Time

Leaving your child in somebody else’s care for the first time is a big step. It’s something you’ll probably give a lot of thought to and, understandably, feel anxious about. Taking time out from family life can be a sanity saver though and, in my experience, allows you to return feeling refreshed and a little bit more ‘you’.

When Ebony was born, I was pretty much superglued to her. I didn’t let her out of my sight very often and I was happy with that. As she grew older and more independent, I felt able to leave her for the odd evening here and there so I could have some time to not be a mum. With Ember, I found I was happy to leave her earlier. This could be second child syndrome or it could be that I finally understand how important self-care is (I’m not sure I ever really did when Ebony was little). And, of course, they’ve both been perfectly fine without me.

Here are some things to consider when leaving your child for the first time:

1. Wait until you’re ready
Society seems to push the idea that women should be ‘back to normal’ within weeks after the birth. That means you’re supposed to shed your baby weight, go out all night and generally act like you did pre-kids. And if you want to do that, then of course, go ahead, enjoy yourself. There’s no reason why you need to stay chained up at home if you’d rather be out letting off steam. But, equally, if you don’t want to go out, then don’t. You don’t need to rush yourself, just wait until you’re ready - and one day you will be, even if it’s not today. If you want to soak up a little more time with your baby, do it.

2. Find someone you trust
This is the biggest worry for new parents, isn’t it? You want to make sure that the person you choose is completely trustworthy and sensible and reliable and, well, the you away from you. Many people choose to use grandparents or close friends, but that’s not always an option. You may live far from family or simply have families who are pretty much always on holiday (no? Just me?) or who have busy social calendars. Thankfully, there are professional babysitters out there to cover exactly these circumstances. You can hire professional childcare workers who are looking for a little extra cash to babysit for you in the evenings. Click here to find a babysitter.

3. Prepare your child
If your child is old enough to hold a (semi decent) conversation, you should spend some time chatting about the babysitter in advance. It’s tempting to just run out of the door without saying bye for fear of causing upset, but preparing your child in advance can actually make the transition easier. You’ll be able to talk through any worries your child might have and provide reassurance that you’ll be back very soon.

4. Do a trial run
The first time you leave your child in somebody else’s care, it makes sense to do it as a trial run. So, instead of shipping yourself halfway across the country for a weekend, just spend a couple of hours at the pub down the road. This means you’ll be nearby so can pop home if necessary. You’ll get a taste of freedom and your child will see that having a babysitter isn’t a bad thing. And, when you do need to go far away, it won’t feel like such a huge leap for either of you.

5. Stick to the routine
I’m not a routine kind of mama, I’ve never been a fan of forcing kids into strict schedules. But, even if you don’t favour that way of parenting, it’s inevitable that your kids will fall into a routine even if it’s a loose one. They probably eat dinner at around the same day each and have a somewhat similar bedtime most nights (or attempted bedtime, if you’re me). Keeping your child in the routines they are accustomed to will make the transition easier, so be sure to let your babysitter know what time your child will probably go to bed or what they’ll want if they wake up. Don’t be afraid to leave notes for your babysitter - it will actually make their job easier.

6. Allow time to reconnect

And, finally, plan in some time to reconnect with your child after the separation. Block out some time the next morning to spend some quality time. It could just be a chat over breakfast or some stories before nursery, but that time is key to helping you reconnect with your child.

This is a collaborative post.

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