Now that Macks is 6 months old, I recently started going back to the gym. He’s old enough for me to drop him off at childcare provided by my gym, and it’s a chance for me to get an hour to myself. I was so excited to finally get back to my normal gym routine and thought it would be great for Macks to have time with someone other than me.
The first day that I brought him into the childcare room, I dropped him off as he played with the toys. I went into the cardio room and began my workout routine that I had missed for the past six months. Just fifteen minutes into my routine, a lady from the childcare room walks up to me to tell me that Macks is crying and they can’t get him to stop. The second that I walk back into the room and he locks eyes with me, he immediately stopped. I took him out for a little while to nurse him and try to cheer him up before dropping him back off. He seemed happy and ready to go once I was done nursing him, but the second that I walked into the room to leave him to go work out, he immediately started crying again.
This scenario has happened nearly every single time since I’ve started going back to the gym. I didn’t think it could start as early as it has, but his separation anxiety has definitely settled in. I forgot how hard it was to see their faces turn from a smile to a frown so quickly as I walk away.
Although I know that this is a completely normal phase, there are certain things I try to do to help ease some of the stress when I leave. Here’s what’s working so far to help eliminate the separation anxiety.
- Start slow. I’ve started leaving him with family members and friends that he is familiar with for short periods of time so that he isn’t with me all the time. It helps get him used to being around others so that he realizes it’s fun to be with someone other than me.
- Find a comfort item. Macks has a toy that he loves to play with. I’ve tried to bring it with us while going to the gym and leaving it with him so that it provides him some sort of comfort from home.
- Play practice games. This might sound silly, but it worked with my youngest daughter, and I’ve started playing it with Macks. Peek-a-boo is a great separation game, because you are gone for a minute and then return. Macks loves to play it now and laughs hysterically when I return.
- Try to leave when they are happy. I always make sure that Macks is well-rested and has a full belly of milk when I leave him That way, I know that he shouldn’t be upset about anything else.
- Always say goodbye. Even when he’s upset that I’m leaving, I always make it a point to say goodbye. This has been my rule since my oldest was dealing with separation anxiety. Now both of my girls, 4 and 2, have no problem with me leaving them and are actually excited to get some alone time to play.