I’ve been primarily a stay at home mom (doing some part time work, mostly while she’s been in school) for my 7-year-old daughter’s entire life. Now I’m considering a training program that would require me to be away for 5 separate 2-week periods over the course of 18 months. I’d really like to pursue this training, but I’m worried about leaving my daughter. My mother would come stay while I was away, and I have a supportive spouse, so logistically it works. Has anyone experienced this type of separation, any tips? I’ve talked about it with a listening partner and listened to my daughter’s feelings about it as well.
Congratulations on this exciting new opportunity.
While I can’t speak to this situation personally, I do know that using ALL the Hand in Hand Tools can help children be extremely resilient with these kinds of changes.
It’s great that you are talking about your trips with your daughter. Just know that because it’s off in the future, it may not be real to her. So, in the days leading up to the time you leave, it will become more real, and you may start to see some really wonky behavior.
It’s also really great that you are taking this to your Listening Partner. It would be good for you to explore ALL your feelings of guilt and FEAR. Really explore all those fear thoughts. Especially work on any feelings about YOU being left or abandoned. Did anyone leave you when you were small? Having some really good cries about current fears and old hurts will really help you get to the place of CONFIDENCE – KNOWING that your daughter may have feelings, AND she will be well-cared for and well-loved.
But you are going to miss your daughter, too. It’s not just going to be HER separation anxiety. I love this anecdote from Instructor Stephanie Parker about her own anxiety.
So.. when it becomes REAL to your daughter that you really are leaving, that’s when the Hand in Hand Tools will become most useful. Up until then, you definitely want to be ramping up the SPECIAL TIME, doing lots of Rough/N/Tumble Play where you take the LESS powerful role. And just notice… when some little incident that has nothing to do with you leaving seems to kick up some feelings. It might be at the end of Special Time
Or she may pick some PRETEXT and you can be attuned to the OPPORTUNITY to BRING a Limit so she can release some feelings. It might look like this…
Giving her lots of opportunities to LAUGH about Separation can also be helpful in countering any fear or powerlessness that may pop up.
You’ll want to make a PLAN for the day you leave – Special Time, Rough/N/Tumble Play and leaving lots of time for feelings – a long, slow goodbye… Instructor Susan Derby’s Separation Plan is for just an afternoon at work away from her toddler, but it could give you some ideas.
One other way you can support her while you are gone would be to introduce Grandma to some of the Tools – especially Special Time. That will help nurture their relationship and keep your daughter’s connection cup filled. Here is a great checklist for your Mother-in-Law
Lastly, be prepared for some wonky off-track behavior when you return. Your sweet girl may need to show you how much she’s missed you. Sometimes kiddos do that by ignoring or rejecting us. Here are some ways you can handle reconnecting…
I hope that gives you some ideas on how to support your daughter. I do think the best thing you can do for her is for YOU to work on your feelings so that you can be RELAXED and CONFIDENT and willing to LISTEN to her feelings without fear or guilt. Once she is able to release any feelings, she will attune your love and confidence and that will anchor her while you are gone.
Let us know if we can support you in anyway. You are doing some great thinking around all this, good Mama!
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
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“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi