What were we thinking! promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby

Leaving Zac for the very first time

By Kelly

Leaving Zac for the very first time

So the time has come for my first work trip away from my son.  I’m feeling very anxious and upset at the thought of leaving him for a week.  I mean, I do know he will be absolutely fine thanks to my husband, parents and sister in law, but I feel sick knowing I won’t see him or hold him for what feels like an eternity. 

I do know, however, that it will be good for us and even though it is hard at the time, will make our time together feel even more precious.  I wonder if the feeling of leaving for a week will ever get easier?

Expert response from What Were We Thinking! expert, Sue Doogan

I don’t know that there’s an easy answer to your question Kelly. Some families would say yes, it does get easier, some would say no. It makes us think about what a lot of Dads must feel like when they have to travel for work. Statistically they do this more often than mums do but we often don’t spare a thought for their feelings. The fact is, there are a number of things with parenting (and life in general) that we don’t like to do but we have to do them. The trick is trying to find ways to make the more unpleasant, appear more positive.

As you say Kelly, you have capable hands looking after Zac, but have you thought of it as a positive for your relationships with your husband and your baby? Good for the relationship in that we don’t all do things exactly the same. The principles are hopefully the same but we carry the steps out slightly different (due to our own interpretation and/or our family of origin). We don’t need to be absolute clones of each other just as all babies aren’t clones of each other. It teaches or reminds everyone that flexibility is ok. More importantly it is a huge confidence boost for the partner who is realising they can actually manage the main caregiver role. Zac may learn that “Dad does things different to Mum” or “I can get away with anything when Grandma is around!” but this in itself enables a baby’s development to be enhanced. It allows them to grow to be more emotionally confident and resilient when they can depend on a number of caregivers. Everyone has different skills to model towards babies/children. Nearly everything we do is a “teachable moment” to babies –because we all respond or react differently to situations.

We are lucky Kelly, to live with technology at our fingertips. Skyping a bedtime story certainly isn’t the same as snuggling together whilst reading but it is better than waiting a week to see a smile or a giggle from your little person. Just think of the quality time you’ll spend together as a family when you return home – priceless!

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