As we say goodbye to summer and all its memories, the first week of September marks an emotional shift from having your kids at home to likely saying "ta-ta" to them when dropping them off to school or daycare. For some moms, it could seem like a relief, and the transition to Fall (aka reality) is seamless. However, for many other moms, it may trigger anxiety and stress -- both of which have an impact on emotional, physical and mental health. Because you aren't alone in feeling this way and because we're feeling it too, we've put together some ways to cope with the transition and keep yourself positively thinking. Here 5 ways you can manage separation anxiety:
- Find new activities. As your time becomes more and more available, you may slowly r remember what you used to do before the kids came along. It's good to revisit some old hobbies and also pursue new ones. Websites like Gilt City offer new experiences, discounts on leisure activities, and fitness classes. If you find activities that work within the timeframe your child is away, that'll keep you busy and fulfilled. In addition, Meetup is a great way to explore groups of people who may have similar interests.
- Remember that moving forward is a good thing. Your child is moving forward. As he or she is getting older, going to school and growing into a social being are a part of a child's development. Remember that it's not just an inevitable change, it's also a positive one! You want your child to be social and eventually navigate the world outside the home without always needing mom or dad. Reminding yourself of all the positives may help you keep all your anxieties (and the nostalgia) at bay.
- Get support. You are not alone! Nope. For every emotion you likely feel through this process, there's someone else feeling the same exact way. Joining mom groups or talking to your current network of friends about how you're feeling are great ways to channel that anxiety and get some "free therapy." Better yet, meeting with other moms who are also experiencing back-to-school anxieties and ranting over a glass of wine or during a workout is a great way to cope.
- Exercise. One word: endorphins! Exercise is one of the most therapeutic ways to feel better -- instantly. The best part is that it doesn't have to be intense, but rather something enjoyable that puts a smile on your face and helps you relax. A calming yoga flow, a power walk to an upbeat playlist, or utilizing a gym membership are all excellent ways to boost your mood and relieve anxiety. It's important to schedule the exercise activity so that you have something to look forward to once you drop off your child to school or baby to daycare.
- Manage Breastfeeding Changes. If you are still breastfeeding and putting your baby in daycare, it's important to keep your stress level low and talk yourself through the shift before it actually happens. For a few months, your schedule may have been on demand and likely more carefree. But as you're getting back to work and moving into a daycare schedule, you need to plan ahead. Start pumping well before dropping baby off at daycare and introduce him or her early on. A smooth breastfeeding-to-pumping transition will make for a smoother daycare transition and will help rid yourself of some anxieties.
While there's plenty to look forward to as your "me" time becomes more available, the emotions you may be experiencing as you are away from your kids are still very real, and you should address them. Whether it's back to school, back to work or a simple change in scheduling, these coping mechanisms should hopefully relieve some anxiety. Just remember, we've all been there.
Photography by Jonica Moore for Well Rounded NY.