Monday, September 23, 2013
Like a Band-Aid
My church has a group that is called Mom's Morning Out and I regularly crash this group's playgroup during the week. You see, my area doesn't have that many stay at home dads and until I start my own group I need someplace that my daughters can play that they are familiar with.
We were discussing how the first week of school had gone and how everyone was handling the adjustment from the summer schedule. Some of the moms, like me, have a kid that has just started kindergarten this year. Except here is the difference. Lots of these moms feel GUILTY for dropping their kids off of school and getting three hours to themselves! Guilty? No. I feel elated!
Maybe it is because Sarah will turn six this September, a mere 16 days after school started for her. Maybe it is because after five years of premature re-graduation in the YMCA preschool programs I am ready for her to move on. Or maybe, just maybe I want to get rid of her so I can get shit done. Whatever it is, I certainly don't feel guilty about it.
What is it that moms feel guilty about exactly? I don't get it. After taking care of her day in and day out, keeping her safe from harm, changing diapers, potty training, and keeping her occupied while she constantly requests snacks like the hungry Sarlacc I am just fine to let her do that elsewhere. Why all the guilt moms? Kids need to get out and experience life without you there. They need to come back home excited about what they learned that day and talk to you about all the things they are going to do without you. That's awesome and you shouldn't feel guilty.
I get that this may be your baby. I get that it is a huge deal. But I also look forward to being in the bathroom so I can just pee alone.
I have seen far too many moms who drop off all wrong. At the gym, moms drop off their kids and if they cry they stick around. They hover outside, peeking in trying to will the crying child through some sort of mommy telepathy. "Please stop crying so that mommy can get her BodyPump class in today". That's not the way to do it.
They really should be using the Band-Aid Method. You don't slowly pull away from the skin, you should go as fast as you can. Don't turn around and go back. Walk away. Your kids will adapt. It's not mean. Most likely they are experiencing separation anxiety but I can tell you from experience with my three kids, going back in to console them is the worst thing you can do.
I know that all kids are different and react to strange people differently but it has always been my intent when my kids were very little for them to get used to the fact that this was daddy's time. They learned that they have to make the best of it even if they don't like it and they learned that I always come back. They don't do into it kicking and screaming and they most certainly don't cry until they throw up thus cutting into my cardio time.
The best thing to do is to introduce them to being dropped off at places that they are safe and secure. The gym, Sunday school, the local IKEA's play place while you load up on Swedish meatballs and modular furniture.
Don't hover or stick around. This gives them the impression that wherever you are leaving them is not cool but if they can just power through it for a couple of hours they will survive. They need to know that you dropping them off doesn't mean you left them on a Lord of the Flies island. In the worst case scenario, play with them for a few minutes until they get distracted and then bolt. Use what that elliptical gave you and hurdle those gates to get out of Dodge.
It has worked for my kids for the past five years since staying at home. All three go in willfully, never have a tantrum, and make friends with whomever is there on a day to day basis.
On Sarah's first day of kindergarten I knew that I could drive up in the circle, open the Swagger Wagon door, and let her go on her merry way. It would be easier for me, with my two year old in tow to make this happen especially when the winter comes.
I saw lots of parents get out and physically walk them down to their kids' rooms. In fact, many of them still do it and I wondered "When are they going to stop doing that?" and "Are their kids going to freak out when their parents don't do that?"
I asked Sarah in the car "Do you want me to walk you to your room or do you want to go by yourself?" "I want to go by myself!" she said emphatically. I pulled up that day and let her out, snapped a few pictures, and kissed her goodbye. Just like a Band-Aid, I let her go. She was off and skipping toward the the front doors excited for her first day.
I thought about what the rest of the afternoon was going to be like without Sarah. I would be able to focus just on Heidi. It was going to be like when we had just Adam. I wasn't going to be pulled in multiple directions and there would be no competition for attention. I could get shit done!
I pulled the Swagger Wagon away from the curb like a Band-Aid and never looked back. Turns out she found her way and made some new friends without me and she figured it out on her own.
Two weeks into the school year a letter has been sent home. It read "When dropping off your child at the front doors, allow children to walk to their class lineup on their own. This speeds up the attendance process and fosters independence." I know it is hard to let go but it is time for your baby birds to fly, just let them.