DO… a trial run
Make sure you’ve left your baby with whoever is babysitting before, even if it’s your mum.
If you’re planning a big night out, get used to being away from your baby during the day for a small amount of time first. Try leaving him with your partner while you meet a friend for a quick coffee.
DON’T… feel guilty
“It’s ok to recharge your batteries,” says maternity coach Miranda Russell (from www.myfamilycare.co.uk). “And it’s good for your baby to bond with other people and get used to the idea of childcare.”
DO… start small
“Keep your outing short and local,” says Miranda Russell. That way you’re never far from home if you need to be and aren’t relying on public transport (or the traffic) to get there and back. “Remember you can say no if it’s not something you’re ready to do,” she adds.
DON’T… show your nerves
“Babies are programmed to pick up on every emotion because of their survival instinct,” says psychotherapist Diana Parkinson.
“If you or your partner is anxious about heading off, the baby will detect it and that will increase his anxiousness. The result is he’ll find it harder to settle.”
DO… talk about it
You might feel a bit silly, but talking to your baby and explaining where you’re going will settle your nerves. “Tell him that you’ll be coming home again,” advises Diana Parkinson. Act normally, and talk about where you’re going and when you’ll be back. “Stay calm if he’s awake, and when you get home tell him you’ve missed him,” she says.
DO… leave instructions
Miranda Russell says: “Find out the contact details of the pub or restaurant where you’ll be, so you’re not worrying about mobile coverage if someone needs to get hold of you. Give yourself the opportunity to stop checking your phone by saying you’ll call home at a certain time.”
Leaving the person looking after your tot everything they need (from expressed milk to toys) means you’re not fretting whether your little one is lacking something.
DO… try and detach
We know it’s hard when you’re out to not think about your little one. But you really must try.
“Babies are much stronger than you think and you shouldn’t be with him 24 hours a day anyway,” says Diana. “Children adjust to you being away, and the more you do it, the more natural it’ll become.”
“I first left Holly when she was about 8 weeks old. It was my birthday and my husband Gerard took me out for a meal. My mum looked after Holly and it was really reassuring to know I was leaving her in familiar surroundings with a familiar person. However, we were both on edge and ended up eating our meal in about half an hour and going back home, where Holly was, of course, soundly asleep.”
Joanne McGahon, 32, from Reading, mum to Holly, 8 months
Putting an item of your clothing in the cot with your little one so he’s got the smell of you around him. Tuck it in at the foot end like a blanket so it’s safe.