That Difficult First Time
My daughter is 14 months old and I’ve only spent one night away from her. She was 10 months old at the time. I went to a bachelorette party for my college roommate, who had asked me to be one of her bridesmaids. The celebration took place in the city just an hour from where I live. I was nervous about being away from my baby overnight for the first time, especially since I was still nursing. I worried that my daughter would have a hard time falling asleep with a bottle from dad instead of her usual nighttime feeding routine with me.
My number one tip for dealing with being away from baby, it to just try it. Plan ahead, make it a safe experience, and go for it. When I got to the hotel to meet the others, I realized how badly I’d needed this time away. Time for me to socialize with other women outside of work was really lacking until this point. It helped to remember who I was outside of being a mom. This is one of the things I love about French culture: French moms are women first. There seems to be a lot of pressure on American moms to be moms first, people second. I had a great time and stayed plenty distracted from missing her too much until it was time to drive home the next morning.
Does it Get Easier?
Tonight is my second time being away from my daughter overnight. My husband is going hunting with my stepfather for the next couple days, and he took our Peanut with him so she can visit with my mom. Today is Wednesday and I have to work all week. I’m fortunate to have the flexibility to work remotely from time to time, but this Friday I have a meeting with senior leaders and it’s preferable that I attend in person.
I was fine all day today. Over the past several days I’ve been telling Peanut what to expect. “You’ll go with daddy to visit Gigi and Poppy. I have to finish work before I can go along.” I did laundry last night and packed her clothes and diaper bag. This afternoon I picked her up from daycare after work as usual. I gave her plenty of snuggles while she had dinner and my husband loaded the car. I got her changed into her jammies and made sure she had her favorite books to read with her dad and grandparents before bed tomorrow. The tears didn’t come until I got her safely strapped into her car seat and kissed her goodbye. They were my tears, not hers.
Part of what made this experience more difficult is that it is several days instead of one. Does it get easier? No. You’re a mama bear now! We have instincts and hormones hardwired to caring for those babies. Easing into these experiences will help. Start with an afternoon. Then let the baby do an overnight with family. Work your way up to a few days or even a week. Do it at your own pace and trust your instincts. You know best what you and your baby can handle!
Positive Self Talk
It’s only two days this time. My mom doesn’t see her as much as she’d like and was really looking forward to this visit. I’ll drive up directly after work on Friday to join them for the weekend. I thought this was the best opportunity for both me and my daughter to get used to her doing overnight visits without me. Given that all her grandparents live two to three hours away from us, she may need to do more of these trips to have the great relationship with them that I want her to have.
Sending her during the week means I won’t miss out on as much of our usual time together. While I’m at work, she would have been at daycare anyway. I’ll miss our snuggles in the mornings and our bedtime routine, but I’ll be able to get to work earlier and perhaps as a result, leave a little early on Friday as well. Try to plan your overnight to minimize losing time you would normally have with the baby. This is especially important to your sanity if you are a working mom. You never have enough hours in the day!
I have friends who didn’t spend a night away from their children until the kids were in elementary school. At the time I didn’t have kids of my own, but now I understand the attachment. It’s really hard to be away from them. I have to distract myself with a mission to keep from missing her too much. As soon as they left, I made myself dinner, ate and then installed the cabinet locks I’ve been meaning to put in.
At what age did you first spend a night away from your child or children? How did/do you cope? Let me know in the comments!