Toddler Separation Anxiety: The Monday Mom Struggle

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Here we go–another painful start to the week. Toddler separation anxiety is brutal. And if you’re like me, the guilt and anguish I feel afterward far exceeds the tantrum length.

The past few months have been exceptionally chaotic for my family. We traveled multiple times and tackled tons of holiday events. It was a fun change. We seemingly did it all: one weekend alone with my husband exploring Charleston, a week in Chicago over fall break as a family of four, a work trip for me, a work trip for my husband, and then we were all back together to enjoy a full calendar of holiday events.

But it’s over now, and we’re back in the groove. Or so I thought.

I must have somehow forgotten. We have a three-year-old. And he’s still apparently reeling from the inconsistency of the past few months.

His toddler separation anxiety is off the charts. He sobbed all the way to daycare today. He slapped my face when I carried him in from the car. He attempted to break sound barriers when I walked us into his classroom. I scrambled, thinking of the right thing to do. Do I scoop him up and leave now, take him to Target, and cancel all my daily meetings? Do I shove him into the arms of the teacher and not look back? Do we go home, hide under the covers, and avoid these big feelings until tomorrow?

I pivot my self-talk and convince myself I’m making the right choice. I need my career. He needs school. We’re better together when we live some time apart. I’m a good mom. I don’t want to be a stay-at-home mom. Three-year-olds cry every day. Big feelings are normal. Toddler separation anxiety is normal. He loves his school. He will be fine. I am making the right choice.

I still have tears trailing down my face on the drive home when his teacher messages to say that he’s doing great and playing with friends. Bless her for letting me know. He’s moved on, and he’ll have a great day.

Every Monday is like this. Sometimes Tuesdays, too. I know that this specific preschool separation distress won’t last forever. I believe I’m making the right choice for everyone when sending him to school. But I’m tired.

Now, I start my own Monday, emotionally spent from the morning of being a mom.


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