Keeping your child close to you is very important. But one can go overboard on this matter too. It is equally important to open your children up to the world, which means gradually seperating yourself from them physically. Seperation is a matter of trust and respect. Allowing your child to venture outside the cocoon of his home and his mother's closeness means you respect the fact that your child has needs that cannot be met by you alone and to trust your child, but most often also to trust a caregiver other than yourself. Retaining your child from exploring the world and discovering different settings will result in an insecure child, afraid of what's 'out there'. A child that lacks the confidence to roam free and must always look back to his mother.
Often mothers cling onto their children out of selfishness or distrust, rather than for the benefit of the child. Again, this is a matter of respect: respecting the child for the unique being he is. Admitted, it is hard to let go. It means you will no longer be part of all aspects of your child's life. But being a parent is all about letting go - in the right amount and at the right times. I think the ultimate challenge of parenting is finding the right balance between closeness and seperation.
Being able to install a degree of separation is equally important as maintaining closeness. Creating seperation is something that should be done gradually and in a healthy manner. When either party shows signs of discomfort, steps towards separation should be ceased. Maybe the most important key to healthy seperation is to follow the child's lead.
- As long as the child is exclusively breastfed and shows no intrest in solids, for as far as this is possible, mother and child should not be seperated. This is key to maintain on cue breastfeeding.
- Once solids have been introduced, it is possible to step out for short periods of time while leaving your child in someone else's care. Go easy, start with small errands not far from home, so you can always return quickly if it is to ard for you or your child. It might be a good idea to keep seperation at a minimum until your child has overcome seperation anxiety, which is mostly around nine months.
- Especially when cosleeping, one should not leave overnight as long as the child has not nightweaned to some degree.
- Follow their lead: if they go towards another person and are so consumed in playing withthem, this might be a good time to benefit from a couple of stolen minutes.
- Try to remain close the first couple of trials, for example: take a bath while leaving your child in the care of your husband, so you can see how it goes and still be in the house.
- A good sign that you might be able to sneak out for a couple hours is when they are able to settle themselves to sleep (for naps and at night, if you plan on staying out late)