Stay at Home Mom Going Back to Work After 5 Years and Having Separation Anxiety!

Updated on March 04, 2010
P.B. asks from Mountlake Terrace, WA
7 answers

I have been fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom for almost 5 years. I have a daughter who is 4 and a half and son who just turned 2. I have decided to return to the workforce and will start a new job in about 3 weeks. I find myself feeling sad and nervous about putting my kids in daycare. I think I might have a more difficult time dealing with the separation anxiety than my kids. I plan to have them start daycare a week before I start work to ease the transition a bit. That day is just around the corner and everytime I think about it, I start to get a bit teary-eyed and start to feel a big lump in my throat. Am I being hypersensitive about this or is this normal? I feel a bit silly about feeling so emotional, but I am going to miss my kids and I know I'll never stop worrying about them throughout the day. I know the most difficult part will be hearing my kids cry for me when I drop them off at daycare that first day.

Does anyone have any encouraging advice on how to get through the adjustment period? I also find myself feeling guilty for not staying home with my son (2 yrs old) as long as I did with my daugther (4 yrs old) especially now when my son seems to be going through a very "clingy" phase at the moment.

Thank you for listening!

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answers from Seattle on

P. - I did exactly the same ((( though I had the '''''dreadful advantage'''' of having no choice- I was newly single -) ---. I promise--- they will have fun - and the more you let them both hear you discuss ''' the great new place to play with all those new friends'''- and the more you focus on the great advantages to your entire family- the better the children will do.
I promise

J. -- aka - Old Mom

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Medford on

Hi P.! I think that all moms, at-home or not, struggle with 'mommy-guilt'! I've been blessed to be able to always be home so I haven't had your exact struggle, but there is always something I feel like I'm not doing well-enough. I don't at all think you are hypersenstive - totally normal! Your kids will have a blast at daycare, and when they do have bad days, just know that they had those at home, too!
Home is the best place for them, but we all do what we have to do. I would love to help you be home with your kids if you are interested in hearing what I do to stretch our budget and to earn some extra money. You can send me a PM if you want.

I wish you and your kids the best. you know you're a good mommy when you agonize over things =)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

It is very normal for you to be emotional. I think it's OK to let your children know that you are sad. Focus on the positives but don't overdo the "how much fun you're going to have." Admit to the sadness. Do let them see that you will miss them and allow the 4 yo to talk about the change, both the good and the bad. All of you are feeling sadness and anxiety. This is an opportunity for emotional growth. .

I've found that having an adult with whom I talk over my feelings helps me put my adult worries aside so that I can help my child express hers. By talking with an adult I'm less likely to scare my daughter with adult worries and concerns. With children this young they may only need a few minutes of reassurance from you that not only is this a new adventure but it is also a sad one; that you'll miss them and be so glad to pick them up after work.

If your 4 yo is the verbal sort who asks questions give her time to do that. When she's sad give her a hug. Tell her you know she's sad and it's OK. Then do something light hearted and fun. The 2 yo may not understand what's happening and therefore may not be upset until this actually happens. That's OK. This is where leaving your adult anxiety out of your interactions is important. He will pick up on your anxiety and become anxious but not know why.

I think it's good you're starting daycare before you start work. You can stay with them for longer. Will they be at the same place? If not, I suggest dropping off the baby first. Let big sister be a part of getting him used to the place. Let the 2 of them play together for awhile.

Follow the lead of the caretaker as to when to leave. Actually I would talk with them before you take the kids. I think it's important to give our children support as they get used to new surroundings. I would insist that I was going to stay for awhile. If the caretaker knows that you're going to stay she may have had enough experience to know when it's a good time for you to leave and help make the transition.

Since you have a week to make this transition I suggest that you stay with them as long as you want the first day and then take them with you when you leave. Perhaps make the amount of time you stay shorter until on Friday you don't stay for long at all.

My granddaughter started day care when she was 3. From day one she seemed to not be very anxious when Mama or me leaving. The workers got her involved with other kids climbing on the indoor jungle gym. Sometimes she would cling. I would reassure her that she was going to have a good time and I'd be back later. I had enough time to stay with her for 10 minutes or so; long enough for her to get involved in play.

She clung and was more teary when she started kindergarten. The teacher was great about getting the kids started doing something.

My grandson always cried when I left. I stayed with him for an hour or so the first day. I left once he was involved with toys/kids. I did give him a hug and tell him I'd be back later. He'd cry and the in-home daycare "mom" picked him up and walked me to the door. Then they both waved bye. He was always having fun when I returned at the end of the day.

Assume that they will be OK. Show confidence in them. Then cry when you get out to the car.

I think that you being at home with them for as long as you did will make it easier for them to transition. They are secure in your love. As you said, it may be harder on you than them.

One of my mother's sayings is "this too shall pass." That became my mantra when I was upset.



answers from Seattle on

Hi Pam! The anxiety you're feeling is very normal! I think it's part of loving your children and wanting the best for them! I worked throughout my three pregnancies and enjoyed it. My husband and I had always been able to work our schdeules so that one parent would always be home. However, the few times I had to leave them with family, it was very hard esp since my 1 yr old was clingy. When I made the decision to stay home, it was financially tough in the beginning but for me, it was a priceless exchange.

I know we can't all stay home because of different circumstances. I would say explain things to your children in a positive way even if you don't feel that way. Make sure you're comfortable and content with the staff and environment at the daycare so you won't worry as much while they are there. Realize it may be hard at first but learning to adjust well to new things is a skill we must all learn. Encourage them alot and love on your 2 year old a little more to help ease the transition esp if he's taking it hard.

Heck, if you really are miserable after some time has passed, you can always choose to quit your job. Or maybe you can work at a daycare (my sis did) so you can have the benefits of being with your children and earning a bit of money. It may not be a salary you'd necessarily love but money cannot buy happiness or peace of mind.

Hope your journey goes well!


answers from Portland on

Hi P.,

You said you are choosing to go back to work, but you are agonizing over your decision! It sounds like you don't want to go back to work. So...why are you going back? Do you have to? Do you feel like it's time? Are you under pressure from friends/family/working moms? Not knowing for sure what the reason is that prompted you to return to work, I may not give you advice you're looking for. But here goes...

If you MUST go back to work, I completely understand. Many moms are heading back to the work force when they don't want to go.

As someone who has worked with kids for 25 years, I only have a few words of caution: Make sure the place you leave your kiddos is the right place for them. If you are uncomfortable for any reason or don't want to go 2 months from now, find another place where they will thrive and you'll have peace of mind.

If you don't HAVE to go back to work, my advice to you personally is....DON'T!!!!! Everything in your post is screaming that you don't want to. Don't let anyone bully you into feeling like you're not contributing to your family by staying home and raising your kids.

Good luck to you.

~P. Gowing
Portland Preschool Directory



answers from Dallas on

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answers from Spokane on

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