So, you thought that new dad anxiety would go away when your baby stopped looking like a teeny Mickey Rooney? Think again. Because when it comes time to go back to work — which will happen much quicker for some of you than others — you’re going to have to conquer the dreaded baby separation anxiety. That’s right, your baby separation anxiety.
There’s been a lot written about separation anxiety in babies, but the fact is, it’s a lot bigger deal to you than them when you and your partner drag yourselves back to the office (Unrelated tip: Make like Costanza and enjoy those sweet, sweet desk naps). That’s not being a hardass, unsentimental dad — please, Mr. Hardass is my father — it’s just the facts. In the lizard brains of babies under 6 months, the world is pretty much always the most interesting place ever, whether you’re in it or not. So unless your company is extremely generous, your kid will likely be too young to notice when the boss comes calling you back.
What the kid might notice, however, is a change in their lifestyle. They’ve gotten used to getting certain amounts of attention at certain times, so take care to leave them with the same schedule as they had when you were hanging out with them all day. Doing so will actually helping you feel better, too. Once you’ve found someone who’ll accommodate and care for your baby according to their schedule and attention needs, you can rest easy knowing that when you see your baby again, they’ll be all “Oh hai, daddeh!” with that googly-eyed expression you love so much.
Keep busy, seek the counsel of wise, elder dads at work, and allow yourself to enjoy those childcare-free hours.
Knowing your baby isn’t in some overcrowded kinderslum still might not completely ease your mind — you’re a parent, anxiety is sort of your default state, now — so feel free to check in with your baby’s caregiver from time to time. You may even go as far as stopping by for lunch if it’s possible, just to make sure they haven’t forgotten you. They maybe did just a little bit. No biggie.
Be aware, this is a pretty emotional time for everyone. Keep busy, seek the counsel of wise, elder dads at work, and allow yourself to enjoy those childcare-free hours, and your separation anxiety should ease as time goes on. If you find it’s lingering to where it keeps you from focusing at work, it’s okay to seek help and talk to someone, even if it’s just to process your feelings about how your kid looked like Mickey Rooney when they were born.