After weeks of round-the-clock feedings and diaper changes, you new moms and dads deserve a night out! But your first evening away from baby can be more nerve-racking than stress-reducing.
Here's how to ease the separation anxiety for you and baby:
- Instruct your sitter as to what makes you feel at ease.
Don't be embarrassed if you leave a mile-long list of phone numbers that includes your pediatrician, poison control, your neighbor, and an aunt who lives three states away. Says Keyser, "You should leave whatever information and instructions make you feel safest." Explain to the sitter that you're overdoing it to put your own worries to rest, not because you don't have faith in her abilities.
- Say goodbye to baby.
Don't slide out the back door to avoid facing a crying infant when you say goodbye. "It will just make your baby over vigilant, always keeping an eye on you to find out when you're going to disappear again," says Keyser. To ease the transition, you might have the sitter arrive a half-hour before you plan to leave so that your baby and the sitter have a chance to get comfortable with each other.
- Prepare your other little ones. If you have toddlers, they could take your date night harder than your new baby. Explains Doe, "Remember that the last time you went out, you were gone for two or more days and then came back with a baby." Reassure young children that you will only be gone for a little while -- and that you aren't bringing another infant home.
; mso-margin-top-alt: auto; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; tab-stops: list .5in">Find a sitter who's been there, done that.
"Leave your baby with somebody who has infant experience, whether it's a good friend or your mother," says Mimi Doe, founder of spiritualparenting.com and author of Busy But Balanced. "You'll be more confident than if you left your baby with the teenager next door."
; mso-margin-top-alt: auto; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; tab-stops: list .5in">Familiarize your baby with the sitter before you leave them alone.
"Your baby won't have to work hard to communicate her needs if the sitter knows how to read her signals," explains Janis Keyser, coauthor of Becoming the Parent You Want to Be. Set up at least two "play dates" to show your sitter your routine -- for instance, where he/she should sit during feedings or the particulars of baby's bedtime ritual.
; mso-margin-top-alt: auto; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo1; tab-stops: list .5in">Plan an easy night out.
Don't make your first date night a black tie event, says Doe. Pick something quick and close to home that's flexible in case anxiety gets the best of you, such as a casual dinner and a movie close to home. This way it won't be a big deal if you have to leave either place mid-way through.