Babies often get separation anxiety at 8 to 18 months old or so, but it's not just them. Moms, however, get anxious leaving their babies when they need to go back to work after their maternity leave or even just to spend an afternoon with her girlfriends. The guilt is always there. It doesn't help that sometimes moms feel insignificant when the baby gravitates towards the person who is with him like the Lola or a hired caregiver most of the time.
Karen Delos Reyes, who gave birth to her first child, son Gabriel Lucas, on October 2017, felt the new mom guilt recently. She went back to work last February for the movie, Diary of a 30-Something, with friend and actress, Alessandra de Rossi, who also wrote the film's script.
Since she was away from home for extended periods of time, Karen noticed Gabriel became a bit distant and even went on a nursing strike. "When I get home, sometimes he doesn't look me in the eye and doesn't want to nurse," she wrote on Instagram. "Naiyak ako! Nagtatampo siya!"
The single mom wasn't happy about it, but she needed to provide for Gabriel, too. It was a good thing Karen found a simple gesture to handle and manage to make goodbyes with her son less exhausting and tearful for the two of them.
A day before Karen goes to work or before she leaves the house, she and Gabriel have this routine. "I talk to him. Nagpapaalam ako ng mabuti. I tell him, 'Baby, Mommy will work lang. I will call you sa break time. I will be back. I love you soooo much!" Karen shared.
One of the most common mistakes parents makes is to sneak out of the house and not say goodbye to the child to avoid the anticipated long and tear-filled goodbyes. But it's not always effective, and it just makes the kids more anxious. Karen's method where she keeps goodbyes short and sweet is an expert-recommended method to ease separation anxiety. The routine also works because she was consistent.
"Now I understand the word 'bawi,' Karen added in the caption for a photo that showed her and Gabriel during a merienda date. "Super quality time 'pag walang work [schedule]," she said. Apart from having merienda dates and mall or outdoor strolls, Karen makes sure to spend time with Gabriel, such as taking him to his pedia visits and plays with him whenever she's home.
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Karen knows there are more "more stressful and overwhelming days" ahead. She keeps in mind not to give in to the pressure to be a perfect mom. "[There are] a million different ways to be a good and loving mom, and each one is equally valid. I need to trust my gut and ask God for guidance and strength," she wrote in another post.