Working from home this past year has presented plenty of opportunities for parents to spend quality time with their families. For parents with toddlers and preschoolers, their children may have grown more attached to them over this period. As more and more parents start to head back to the office, how will their little children cope with the separation?
If you are worried about your little ones developing separation anxiety when they are away from you, here are four tips to make your transition back to the office a little less painful for everyone involved.
Prepare Your Child Early
If you have been summoned back to the office, prepare your child early for what is to come. Children feel safe when they know what to expect. Telling them what their new day would look like prepares them for their new routines. For example, remind your child that you will only have breakfast and dinner together and that you will tuck theminto bed every night. Once your child gets used to the new routine, acceptance is likely to follow.
For toddlers who cannot speak, demonstrate how each day would look like by acting out the new routine. You can use simple toys or dolls for the role play. Doing this will help your child manage their emotions and expectations better when you leave for the office.
Introduce Your Child’s Caregiver Ahead of Time
Decide on a caregiver early should you plan to enlist their help. Acquainting your child with the new caregiver should be accomplished while you are still at home. If grandma is the nanny of choice, invite her to stay over or have her come by daily for bonding sessions. Also, be sure to familiarise the caregiver with the new daily routine to prevent further disruption to your child’s day.
Speak Positively About Returning to Work
Heading back to work and getting caught up in the daily grind can be stressful but be careful not to complain or speak about your worries in front of your child. Speak about work in a positive and light-hearted manner and save the anxious conversations with your spouse for when your child is out of earshot. Children often mirror our emotions and absorb our negative vibes a lot more than we realise. Keeping things positive will help them accept the new changes better.
Keep Goodbyes Brief
After role-playing the new routine, introducing the new caregiver and squeezing in lots of hugs and kisses in between, your child will be more prepared for you to leave home. When the time comes, prevent a long battle at the door by keeping goodbyes as brief as possible. Give your child a tight cuddle, let them know that you will be back for dinner and then seal your goodbye with a quick kiss!