It's always hard to say goodbye to Mommy. When I began going to the gym in the evenings last fall we ran into some separation anxiety with our little Baby Rain. I recently began to work outside the home (just a few nights a week) which meant my absence was felt not just during bedtime, but also during dinner and the hour beyond.
While Grace-girl, almost 7, is now old enough to understand reason (she still misses her Mama, sometimes, and has always been a fairly sensitive child), Baby Rain is not quite 3 and still has strong feelings about the subject! So this mama did what any good mama would do. I requested a bunch of books from the local library. Your library has them too! Search under "separation anxiety" or ask your children's librarian for suggestions. Most books in this category are geared towards the first day of school, but I've found that these are equally helpful for little ones as they don't really know the difference between "school" and "playing at someone's house." Books about loss are also good for this category (Think: Knuffle Bunny and Have You Seen Duck?, a current favorite at our house).
Some Favorite Books at Our House:
The first two are not specifically related to "school" but rather are simply how little ones cope with missing Mommy. For the record, there are GREAT books about kiddos missing Daddy or other caregivers. These just really hit home for my kids and me since I'm their primary caregiver.
- Owl Babies has been in my arsenal for awhile. This book was a favorite with both girls at the toddler stage. It really helps them grasp the idea that Mommy always comes back. We do have to learn to wait and be patient and maybe even worry a little, but every kid who's read this book can repeat Bill's special line, "I want my Mommy!" Some of the illustrations are dark (owls are nocturnal, afterall), but never scary. My favorite picture is the one at the end when the baby owls dance around on their branch. Pure elation! Mama has returned!
- Piglet and Mama was/is another fave for both my girls. In this case, Mama appears to be lost, but in the end she was looking for piglet the whole time. In this sweet story, Piglet meets several other animals around the farm who offer her an activity to share with their own little ones, but each time it simply says, "But Piglet wanted her Mama." For some reason I always inextricably insert a "No thank you" before piglet asserts her desire for Mommy. No need to be rude, after all! The playful illustrations add a lightness to the story rather than a scary element for the sensitive crowd. The simplicity is winsome and not tiring at all.
- Llama Llama Misses Mama is a sweet story I found in my recent search for books about this topic. I do love that sweet, passionate little llama. Who doesn't? The illustrations in this book are so exquisite that you can almost taste the tears running down little Llama's face when, finally, "it was all too much for little Llama" and he breaks down crying at the snack table at his new preschool. All is well in the end, of course, when his new friends gather round him and the teacher reminds him that his mama will come back at the end of the day. The scene of their reunion is a mess of tossed crayons and joyful exuberance. Love it. And in the end Llama Llama decides he loves Mama AND school.
These last two I like because they give you an action point- they remind you that you can DO something about missing Mommy. These are better for kids who are a bit older (stories are longer), perhaps more school-age, but still apply to little ones as well.
- The Kissing Hand is a classic book about little raccoon who is heading off to his first day of school. Of course, Raccoon school is at night! Again, the illustrations are beautiful and the story poignant. Mama gives little Raccoon a special kiss that will remind him of her throughout his night at school. This is a sweet story that also allows reciprocation for little Raccoon to give Mama a special kiss of her own so she won't miss him too much, either. And off he scampers to school.
- The Kiss Box is about a mother who has to go away for awhile and how she soothes the concerns of her little bear. Finally the little bear decides to make a box to store the kisses in that she will send when she is away. This is a strategy that has worked in my family, too. Only I like to cut out tiny paper hearts and fill the kiss boxes with both real kisses and the paper reminders.
Now that you know how to help your little one cope with separation- how do you deal with it? Come visit me at my other blog for help with that one!