Although I am gone all day, Baby Fox is with the same person all day everyday. We have never dropped him off somewhere, so when he turned 18 months and could communicate with us we started taking him to the gym daycare. It was only for an hour, but it was somewhere that we could drop him off and pick him up. We were pretty consistent in taking him at least once a week. But the thing was, he was always the ONLY kid in there. So not much different from a regular day. Now that we belong to the new gym it's a whole different ball game. They have 50-100 kids going through there at any given time, it's crazy busy. It's overhwhelming for Baby Fox, this are 5 ways how we've dealt with the separation anxiety for our 3.5 year old.
1. I have to remember that this is the best for him. One day I am going to have to drop him off at school, and there are going to be a LOT of kids, I would rather him figure it out an hour or so at a time then have to be there all day trying to figure out. To me that seems traumatizing.
2. There will be crying and that's okay. It breaks my heart every single time. I cried, he cried, I got frustrated, he cried some more, I cried way more. To hear him crying when I leave and yelling for me not to leave him is heart breaking. But I know that I have to do it. Most of the time though, the teacher distracts him with something shiny and he stops crying 30 seconds after I walk out of the door. But I do have to say that the first 5-6 times we went, they had to call me back to the daycare because he had been crying for more than 10 minutes, but it does get better (coming from a mom with the most clingy kid)
3. We bring something from home that he can carry around with him. We bring something that isn't necessarily his favorite, but something that he can hold and feel a little bit at home. Mostly it's one of his hundreds of stuffed animals.
4. I bribe him. I am not beyond that, seriously, desparate times calls for desparate measures. He's 3.5 and LOVES chewing gum. So we made a rule when he is at the gym he can chew gum, and that is the only time he can chew it (besides when he is with my parents, they seem to always give him a piece), so he basically wants to go all the time so he can get some gum.
5. At the beginning we started to give him rewards, so we would tell him, hey if you go to the gym today you can pick something out of the toy bag (we have a bag of cheap $1 toys, mostly it was for potty training but still had some left over, so we started using that). Then after the first couple of times, we said if you go 3 times you can pick something out. Then I bought him something he wanted (a baseball bat) and he had to go 4 times, then the next time he wanted the balls that went with the bat, and he had to go 5 times. So over the course of a few months (going twice a week) it slowly got better. Don't get me wrong he still cries when I leave, if I'm leaving him with someone he doesn't know (I try to go when there are teachers there that he knows, but it doesn't always work out), but usually 30 seconds after I leave he's done crying, and when I get back, he's playing and doesn't want to leave, so I know he's really okay.
I just have to keep reminding me, this is good for him. He needs to play with other kids, I would rather do this now then at preschool in the Fall. I can do this!
Here are the previous topics:
Week 1 - Keeping Your Marriage Alive with a Toddler
Week 2 - 10 Fun Summer Activities for Toddlers
Week 3 - Toddler Communication
Dealing with separation anxiety can be tough for any mama. Be sure to check out the other mamas in our series for their helpful posts. If you've got a post on separation anxiety, don't forget to link it up with us below!
July 10: Keeping your marriage alive with a toddler
July 17: Favorite summer toddler activities
July 24: Helping Your Toddler to Communicate (Words, emotions, etc.)
July 31: Dealing with Separation Anxiety
Aug 7: Car Trip Necessities
Aug 14: Deciding when the time is right for baby #2 (and/or how to handle these questions)
Aug 21: Tricks for eating out with your toddler
Aug 28: Feeling confident as a mom (How to feel this way, Your struggle with, etc.)