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Preschool soon? Here are 12 steps to manage your own separation anxiety, mama

You’ve probably put a lot of thought and effort into helping your child adjust to school for the first time. And maybe you’ve been looking forward to your new freedom. But if you’re like most parents, you’ve found yourself wiping away a tear or two as well. So for a little help managing your own separation anxiety, here’s my 12 Step Program for Moms (and Dads, too)!


1. Develop goodbye rituals.

They comfort you as well as your child.

2. Honor your feelings.

Your job as a mom is to be there for your child and protect him. You work hard to have a close relationship with him. Of course you feel sad when you separate, and a bit worried about whether he will be ok. Don't be embarrassed. Nature designed you that way!

3. Manage your own feelings privately.

So that you can reassure your child that there’s nothing to be upset about. Kids pick up our cues. You can’t expect your child to look forward to playing with the other kids in preschool if you have tears in your eyes as you say goodbye. If separating from your child triggers your own issues, use the opportunity to work them through with a counselor.

4. Help your child make a smooth adjustment.

Any mom gets upset when her kid wails and clutches her. But remember that most kids have some separation anxiety they have to work through, and don’t over-react. It makes things harder for your child, and for you.

Don’t tell your child you'll be in the parking lot in case he needs you—that just makes it hard for him to settle into the classroom. Instead, say that you will be back to pick him up at a given time. You can always listen outside the classroom (without him knowing you’re there) to see when he stops crying and to hear how the teacher is dealing with his upset.

5. Have faith in your child and in nature.

Nature designed kids to hang onto their parents for protection, but to start exploring once they feel safe. Worrying about leaving your child at school is a way of saying you don’t believe he can cope. As long as you have confidence in the caregiver – and why would you leave him with a caregiver in whom you don’t have confidence? -- then you can have faith in your child’s inner strength to rise to the occasion and grow.

6. Get to know the caregiver or teacher.

Naturally it’s hard to relax if you don’t really know the person with whom you’re leaving your child. Before you enroll your child, hopefully you had a discussion with the caregiver about how they handle a child’s separation sadness. (An experienced teacher knows that many children will naturally feel sad at saying goodbye and those children need comfort. Once they bond with the teacher, they will feel much more comfortable saying letting go of parents.)

Engage in brief chats as you pick your child up, send notes of appreciation, let her know about anything big that’s going on in your child’s life.

7. Make sure you’re a few minutes early to pick your child up at school.

Not seeing you immediately will exacerbate any anxieties your child has and may panic her altogether, which will set back your own adjustment. And if your child cries when you pick her up, don’t worry. You’re seeing the stress of her having to keep it together all day. Your return signals that it’s safe to be her baby-self again. (We all have baby-selves, but as we get older our executive selves assume control in the outside world.)

8. Reinforce the bond.

Make sure you spend special time every day after school with your child so she knows she still matters to you. Take every opportunity to connect physically—she’s spent the day being as grown-up as she can and needs the reassurance of snuggle time with a parent. Be sure you do some physical roughhousing to get your child laughing every afternoon—it helps both of you work through the tension of the separation.

9. If your child is having trouble adjusting, intervene.

You’re not likely to feel happy saying goodbye to your child if he seems to be dreading school. First, talk to the teacher or caregiver. See if she can give him a special job when he arrives. Suggest that he needs to bond with her more and ask if there are ways she can make that happen.

If the problem drags on and you don’t have confidence in the caregiver, consider other options. (For more on helping your child adjust to school and helping your toddler with separation anxiety.)

10. Get organized at night for the next morning and get enough sleep.

If you’re grumpy or rushing, you’ll be impatient with your kids. It’s hard for all of you to feel good about saying goodbye and heading off into the day from a mood of emotional upheaval

11. Make a list of things you can’t wait to do.

Make a list of things you can’t wait to do with any extra time you’ll have, like catching up at work, meditating, working out more or finally tackling that big project you’ve been putting off. Make sure you give yourself at least one act of true self-nurturing every day, whether that’s a long bath, lunch with a friend, or reading a novel before bed.

12. Get a life.

Most parents realize that we need other things we’re passionate about besides our children, so we aren’t living through them. That's not good for the kids, or for us. But I would take this a step further and say that our most important responsibility as parents is to maintain a sense of well-being, so that we can be emotionally generous with our children.

Being a parent is the second most important job you will ever have (even if someday you are the President of the United States) because you are responsible for nurturing a human being, whose very brain is taking shape in response to your interactions.

So what’s the most important job? Nurturing yourself, because growing up is never finished and sooner or later we all have to pick up where our parents left off. Sure, others can help, but you’re the only one who has the job of making sure you’re well taken care of.

How else will you keep growing and be the person and parent you want to be? Why not take this opportunity to become even more loving and nurturing with yourself?


This article was originally published on Aha! Parenting.


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Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this

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The Social Security Administration has released its list of the top baby names of this decade. The SSA analyzed data for nine of the 10 years in the 2010s to figure out the 200 most popular names for babies since 2010 (that's over 35 million babies).

For boys, Noah got the top spot, with almost as many Noahs being born as there are people in Jackson, Mississippi. That's right, this generation created enough Noahs to fill a city! On the girls' side, Emma is the top name. We created enough Emmas to fill Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Like Noah and Emma, most of the names are classics, with a few more modern names (hi, Jayden!) entering the top 200.

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