By Emily Wing, LICSW
Easing your babysitting/daycare fears
The dreaded day of having to return to work or just leaving your little one for the first time, often stirs up some pretty uncomfortable emotions. One may experience feelings of sadness, worry, stress, anxiety, and fear. It is not easy to let go and allow someone else to step in and do your “job.” You know your baby best, so how could this caregiver ever do it as well as you do?
You are not alone when it comes to experiencing these strong feelings of fear and worry when leaving your little one for the first time. Below we discuss some common fears and coping methods.
The caregiver will replace them and baby will no longer be as connected to them. No one can replace you!
Be sure to allow for baby to reconnect after being away with lots of snuggles, nursing (if breastfeeding), babywearing and attention.
Baby will be abused or neglected.
Do a thorough babysitter/daycare screening process. Many daycare centers have background checks on every employee. Daycare centers with a waitlist might actually be worth the wait. They generally have checks and balances in place. And you can always double check with the state licensing board if you want more information. You can also run a background check on your babysitter. Request and check references. Ask lots of questions and know that no question is silly!
Baby is too young to verbally communicate to parents if something negative happened while with caregiver.
Try to relax and trust all the research, interviews and reference checks you put into this. If you are anxious and stressed, your baby will pick up on your emotions and cause them to think they need to panic too. In order to relax, try drinking some tea in the morning, do some deep breathing, practice some mindfulness (work on staying present and in the moment and out of your worried filled mind), listen to calming music before leaving your baby.
Missing baby’s “big moments”
Create a system with your child care provider to send you regular updates via text or email with pictures. This will help you feel more connected during your time away and help you document any new milestone your baby is achieving.
Baby will refuse to take the bottle and be hungry or cry until mom comes for pick up.
Be proactive. Practice with the bottle at home, preferably with partner or someone other than mom giving bottle. Try other methods than bottle (cup, syringe, etc) if baby completely refuses bottle. Make a list of what helps calm and soothe baby, baby’s routine, toys baby enjoys and baby’s likes and dislikes to go over and leave with caregiver.
Baby will be left to cry a few too many minutes.
Find a good fit. Don’t feel that just because your friend or neighbor recommended the sitter or daycare that you have to go with them. You should feel comfortable and listened to by whomever will be caring for your child. Your beliefs, values and parenting style should either be similar to the provider or respected and honored. It’s okay to advocate for your baby and emphasize what you do and don’t do with your baby (i.e. don’t leave baby to cry, rock baby to sleep, don’t give baby certain foods, always meet your baby’s needs-don’t believe in spoiling baby by holding them, etc).
Baby will miss mom.
Take it slow. If you are able to, build up to a full day or for however long you’ll be away. Start with an hour with you, baby and caregiver to allow for baby to become familiar with caregiver and you to model how you care for your child (as well as observing how caregiver is with baby). Next try being home, but do things around the house while sitter plays/cares for baby. Then leave the house for a walk or drive for 15 minutes and then return (increase time away each time). Do this for a couple of days or a few times a week for a couple of weeks (however long you feel you need). Make arrangements to visit the daycare center to spend some time there before the big day.
Talk about it! You are not alone with these fears and worries, so talk to other moms, your friends, partner, or family about how you are feeling. If your feelings become unmanageable and you can’t seem to quiet your worries, don’t be ashamed to contact a therapist to help you work through your fears and put your mind at ease. Sometimes these fears and worries are linked to bigger issues from your own childhood or past and may need to be explored to help you put them to rest.
The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.