Leaving your child overnight for the first time

Am I the only one who had some anxiety thinking about this? I found this to be such an emotional battle from within! This caused me much confusion. At times I felt alone in my decisions and thinking processes. So much pressure is put on the mom to feel certain ways about this. Can anyone else relate? Did you go through this too or was it easy to leave your little one?

The first time

The first time I left my little Mi was to go to a friend’s wedding 400km away. She was just over a year old so I felt she was old enough – but that didn’t make it any easier. It was far & she was going through a bad separation anxiety phase. She stayed with my mom-in-law & brother-in-law, whom I trust 100%, but I kept wondering whether or not she’d understand why I am gone. If I’m being totally honest – it got to me a lot because I really felt bad for ‘leaving her’. She was comfortable with family – but when I was there. I knew it was the right thing to do, because I didn’t want to miss out on a wedding of a good friend, but it didn’t make it any easier. She survived, I survived – but it was a tough one!

Trust is important – but it’s not about trust

Do I trust other people to look after my precious angel? Of course! I trust my parents with my life to look after my little one. They live far away though, so the opportunity hasn’t come up as yet. I am fortunate to be blessed with lovely in-laws. I trust my mom-in-law 100% with my little one. She is great with her & my little one loves her to bits. My sister-in-law, who doesn’t have kids of her own (yet) is a natural with her niece. I love how she “parents” Mianke because it is so similar to how I would & this is also why I feel comfortable with her. Mianke is also lucky enough to have a very young uncle, only 8 years older than her, whom she absolutely adores.

So why am I hesitant to just leave my little 2 year old overnight? I trust these family members 100% with her. Trust is NOT the issue. Trust has never been the issue. I have no issue going out for the day & leaving her with family. I know they will look after her like they would their own children. I am not ready to leave her overnight ‘just because’. Night times are different. Littlies still want their mamma. It’s about when I am comfortable as a mom. I don’t want to be forced into leaving her overnight. Or be made to feel like this is something that must be done now. She is only 2 years old. That is still so little. I also cannot answer when I will be totally comfortable with this. This isn’t an age thing – this is a comfortable thing. When us, as her parents, both feel okay with this.

Becoming more comfortable with the idea

As time goes on, I feel more at ease with the idea of leaving little Mi overnight. And this is possible, because I am mostly able to do this on my time. I realise that leaving her overnight when we have a wedding or want to go to a function really will be fine. I know that it will take me a long time to do this regularly, but that I am able to do this when I need to. I was tearful the first time I left her & the last time I left her (Okay I only left her twice) but I worry that she will want me & I’m not there. She has mostly grown out of the separation anxiety phase and is totally fine staying with her grandparents and our siblings – which is a huge help as she is happy and comfortable. In my heart, I know she will be fine, but I need to be the one to get there.

Advice to both parties

What can I say to those who want to do the babysitting? Don’t drive around without checking if this is alright. A friend had her trust broken because she found out her family member was roaming the town with her little girl, while she thought they were safe at home. Secondly, be patient. Never push a mom, specially a 1st time mom, to be comfortable with leaving her baby or toddler overnight. Don’t make a mom feel bad for not feeling comfortable with it. It is okay for a mom to take her time to get there. Pushing us newbie moms is not going to make us ready any sooner. If anything, it will just cause resentment and delay the process. Be flexible – if parents feel more at ease having you come over to their place the first few times, go with it. Sometimes parents don’t mind where the little one is looked after, other times it is what they need to feel more comfortable. I really don’t mind whether it is at my house or the family’s house, unless our destination is more easily accessible from our place.

For those who are struggling with these internal struggle – you are okay! This is okay! Don’t let anyone force you to leave your child anywhere. You need to feel comfortable with this. Yes, babies do need (and want) their parents at night when they go to sleep. It is their safe place. On the other hand, sometimes we really need to think about the situation properly. As much as we don’t want to leave our children, would you be okay to miss an important event because of it? The first time will always be the worst, but it gets better. Really consider staying overnight at a location close by because you have a wedding or an event, where you can quickly return if your little one needs you. Maybe someone really wants you to be there. As much as it may be hard, this is what we need to think of when trying to decide.

The best advice

At the end of the day, you are the parent. When I was faced with all this, I wondered if I was overreacting for feeling this. I wondered whether I was being crazy. I approached my mom, because I knew she would tell me whether or not I was being unreasonable. She gave me the best advice I could ask for. She told me that Mianke would be fine if I left her overnight, but that I need to do what I am comfortable with. That it is up to us as parents what we are comfortable with and no one else. Wise words from my wonderful mother. Remember – You need to be comfortable. You are doing a great job!

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