Nearly every parent who I speak with gets a little emotional when they reflect on their child attending school for the first time. Whether they are a working mom returning to the job after three months of maternity leave or a stay-at-home parent who is dropping off their child at preschool for the very first time – it still affects you in many ways.
Sure, we worry about how our child will acclimate and wonder if they will make friends, however, it’s important to recognize that moms and dads experience some heartache and growing pains as well.
Just know that it’s OK to feel some sort of separation anxiety as a parent.
How can we minimize parent separation anxiety?
If you’re a new mom heading back to work after maternity leave, I would speak with your KinderCare Center Director about a complimentary drop in day before you actually return to work.
I personally did that with my first baby and my husband was very sweet and sent me to a spa and…for the sake of transparency… I SOBBED uncontrollably through a pedicure staring at my phone the WHOLE time. I was ready to dash out the door in my robe in the event KinderCare’s name flashed across my phone. Thankfully the call never arrived and it gave me the courage to go to a movie after the pedicure all while my baby visited his new classroom. I can’t remember a single thing from the plot, which is fine, yet again… my eyes were glued to my phone throughout the entire film.
Still no call from KinderCare… and that was more great news.
During the movie credits, I literally ran to my car so I could pick up my boy only to find him cooing and smiling at his new teacher. It warmed my heart watching him through the glass and knowing that he was happy, content, and in a loving environment.
We both did great.
How did this exercise help?
I was able to release a flood of emotions before I returned to work so I could effectively do my job without adding stress to my family and colleagues. It’s natural to worry and be on edge at first but once you initially get it out of your system it becomes easier.
It’s an adjustment for everyone.
Remember, your teacher and Center Director have helped many other parents just like you. Ask them for advice to help with the transition. It can be emotional and turbulent at times but you will hit your stride.
Give it time and be patient with yourself.
You’re not alone and other parents have been there before you. Reach out to them if you need reassurance and support. It’s OK to feel this way. I still find myself getting misty eyed whenever I see a new mom dropping off her baby for the first time. I know exactly what she is going through so I always make sure I pass by with a supportive smile and a nod of encouragement.
I’m now inching closer to kindergarten with my oldest child (and I can already feel the tears burning again) but it’s OK – this feeling will pass. I’m getting better at it and I recognize that as a mom I’m a work in progress.
There is the occasional heartache, but I recall there are many benefits with this stage. With each milestone along the way I also have the privilege of watching my children discover the universe with their teachers serving as tour guides.
Remember, don’t be afraid to ask for help and be patient with yourself as both you and your family find your way.
Parents, you are not alone and you’re doing great.