I want to be completely blunt with you on this topic. I don't like doing things without Johanna and I typically don't unless I am going to work. I actually prefer to be with her at all times outside of work. If I go somewhere, she goes with me!
Recently, I've been told that I'll create separation anxiety issues with myself and Johanna, that I need to stop babying her, that I need to leave her and do something on my own, etc. Really though, how do you determine when you are ready to start doing things without your baby or when they are ready to do things without you? Besides the inevitable daycare stay during working hours. Do you just suck it up and go places without them, completely disregard your feelings of guilt or the fact that you'll miss them so much or that you may miss out on something?!
One of my favorite memes that I've seen recently is this, "How broken is society where a Mother is told she has anxiety because she doesn't want to be away from her child for too long? Wanting to be close to your child is as natural and instinctual as it gets. It is not a medical condition; it's called attachment and it's incredibly healthy and fulfilling for both mother and child."
The way I see it is that she is mine. If I'm not ready, I'm just not ready. Who is someone to tell me (or you) that it's unhealthy to want to be around your child all the time?! Read that again....
Now that I'm done being completely blunt, let's transition into how you know when you're ready and what types of things you can do to make sure you feel secure. Also, let's be completely clear about something. When I say doing things, I don't mean a trip to the grocery store or to get your nails done. I'm talking about extended hours, overnight trips or trips that last a few days.
Even though I don't prefer to do things without Johanna, there have been a handful of times where I have. I'll say this, they all required my family and my own mind convincing myself that it was going to be completely fine. My preference to be with her all the time is likely due to me not wanting to miss out. It also comes from guilt that I work full-time so when I'm not working I feel like she deserves all of my attention! Also, I really really miss her when I'm away from her. She's also just a cool person to be around! I'll also say this, I'm 31 years old and I think this plays a major role in wanting to experience things and being past the phase of experiencing things. Going places that I've already been isn't as appealing to me as rolling around on the floor with my baby girl. Agree?
When are you ready? Likely, when you feel more relaxed at the thought of planning something without your baby being involved. At this point in time I am planning a 4 day trip in a few months. It will be my very first time leaving Johanna. The thought, the little bit of planning I've done and even me talking about it here gives me anxiety and makes me feel uncomfortable. My hope is that by November, I'll be ready. My hope is that the closer I get the less anxiety I have about it. Don't get me wrong I know she will be in excellent hands. Again, it's the fear of missing out, the guilt of not being with her that gets to me and missing her so much that I feel sick to my stomach.
Next, when you have a trusted caretaker, it's so much more easier. This seems really obvious right? This is the thing when I say trusted. It involves someone who you know well, family or friends, someone who understands your worries and doesn't judge you or get annoyed for calling 100 times to check up on them. This person can't make you feel bad for feeling guilty. They should be someone who isn't forcing you out the door but understands you want 3 more goodbye kisses. Get what I'm saying here?
Next, listen to yourself not others. There is a tremendous amount of pressure from social media, the news, fake news, friends, family, people who think they know exactly what you need to do, etc. about the way we should mother our kid's. Let me say something if I may, do not listen to anyone else except yourself. Whenever you are ready, it should be because you are ready, not because society thinks you're ready. There is not a specific age of your child that you must leave them by, there is no specific amount of time that you must be gone from them. Let it be your decision!
I hate seeing memes about wanting to get away from your kids, or needing a break from your kids, etc. It bothers me but I know that everyone's situation is completely different. I think those factors include single parent households opposed to two parent households, your support system, the amount of children you have and whether you work outside the home or inside the home as a stay at home Mama. Obviously, a Mama who is with their kids 24/7 may need to go somewhere without them more often than a Mama who is gone working. I completely get that!
So this brings me to my next point. I spoke with a lot of different Mama's and some stated some issues they have with other relationships because they aren't ready or just don't want to leave their babies. I can definitely relate to some of these issues. As of recently, I didn't realize how many of my relationships have taken a back seat since having Johanna, and most if not all of them have been completely unintentional! I haven't seen some of my friends in a very long time and some I go long period without talking to. Obviously, this impacts a relationship hard!
Other things that I've read from other Mama's are that they feel so guilty when they have to cancel plans with friends or family. Listen, they will understand! It is okay to either say no or have to cancel if need be! I've also read that some Mama's (including myself) feel left out when they aren't invited somewhere or they see other people out doing things and having fun. It can be tough to get through and tough to make a decision on where you want to be!
Some of the Mama's I spoke with said that their intimate relationships are impacted and not enough time is being spent together. When you spend too much time away from close relationships, you begin to grow apart. So as Mama's who don't want to leave their babies too often or for too long at a time, what do we do?
Bring baby with you - Whenever you make plans to meet up with friends try to make it a baby/kid friendly place. I go to dinner, parks, pools, museums, etc with friends so that I'm still with Johanna but allow myself to catch up with what's going on in our lives! It also helps that most of my friends have their own babies! You can make it a play date for the both of you! It also helps with that frequent feeling of loneliness which I also suffer from sometimes!
Schedule a time to do something! This answer came from many different amazing Mama's I talked to. It makes complete sense to me! One suggested that you plan at least one night out a month with your girlfriends. Another suggested that you plan two nights out a month (1 with your girlfriends and 1 with your significant other). You could even plan a date night in and date night out, each once a month. Be strict with yourself like write it down in your planner and make sure you plan things weeks ahead. Be strict but also give yourself grace!
Wake up and hour earlier or go to bed an hour later - I do this from time to time just to catch up with my friends or family over the phone. I know they have my undivided attention because Johanna is asleep. In the morning if I wake up early, I try to get things done around the house so I have more time later.
Schedule everything - This is absolutely a must and something I've done since before I had Johanna. Call me old school but I still carry a huge planner around and write all of my plans down ahead of time! This will make for easier plans with people and help's with over scheduling. I even go as far as to plan out certain times of the day where I'm not on my phone and giving Johanna my undivided attention. I know it seems silly but in this crazy busy world we live in, it helps!
I hope you Mama's feel better about whichever position your in when it comes to leaving baby. Wherever you are on the timeline, don't feel guilty! You're doing an amazing job!