I remember vividly when my daughter-in-law called me in tears, worried that her twins would end up loving their child care provider more than they loved her. I assured her that this anxiety is typical of moms who have to have their children in child care, and I shared some tips with her. Here’s an important one:
Create fun routines that involve activities that are unlikely to be part of child care. Because they are only done at home, they will stick out in the child’s mind. Children find routines of any kind comforting and these home-only routines will become special times with mom and/or dad that your child can look forward to. Here are some possibilities:
· Bath time. Almost all kids love to splash in the bath before bedtime. Instead of thinking of this as one more chore to get through, appreciate it as an opportunity to share a fun experience with your child with which child care can’t compete. Bath time also has the advantage of being a chance to relate to more than one child at a time.
· Singing. Choose specific songs that only you sing to your child—maybe one for first thing in the morning, one for bedtime, and one for riding in the car. It’s not unusual for grown children to speak nostalgically about such songs and even repeat them with their own kids.
· Dancing. I’ve never met a baby or toddler who didn’t like to be held in Mom’s or Dad’s arms and jiggled up, down, and around in time to a favorite CD song. This might be a great routine for when you reunite.
· Watching a DVD together. Many child care providers avoid DVDs and yet, cuddling once a day with a child in front of an appropriate DVD can be an intimate and cozy experience (being sure to talk about what’s on the screen—and, whatever you do, not using DVDs in place of books!). For example, my daughter-in-law uses the Baby Signs My Bedtime Signs DVD to cuddle and wind the twins down at night before book time, each one clutching his or her own Baby BeeBo.
I’ve got one more major tip that I’ll share another time. (By the way, it took only one bad cold during which the twins stuck to her like glue to convince her she had nothing to worry about in the attachment domain!)
Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder the Baby Signs Program and
Professor Emeritus, University of California