Staying At Home: I Guess I’m Batman In This Situation?

I can’t remember when it started… Maybe last week? It began with a whimper, and has become a full-scale nuclear meltdown. Separation anxiety. What. The. Fuck? My sweet, even-tempered little boy has started channeling Harvey Dent in the last couple of days. Most of the time, he’s fine. We hang out, he laughs, we do stuff, all is right in the world. But then, I take a step out of the room. I go to the bathroom. I LEAVE THE HOUSE. And he’s no longer cutie-patootie Aaron Eckhart being all mild-mannered and trying to woo Maggie Gyllenhaal. He’s that weird half-skull Terminator baby that’s going into business with the Joker. The REVENGE business. 

If I try to take a shower, he’s there, screaming and pounding on the door for the entire time. If I go out of the room to collect the laundry, he freaks out. I left the house on Sunday to wander around the mall with a friend and my husband called to report that he spent an hour and a half crying at the front door. I know that this is normal, but I have no idea how to handle it. The Internet, while full of interesting things, is at odds with itself when it comes to dealing with this. Say good-bye! Don’t say good-bye! Narrate exactly what you will be doing so that your toddler is comfortable! Ignore it and let them figure it out! My head hurts, from the screaming and the brainstorming on how to come out of this without permanently scarring my kid.

I can’t imagine how hard this is for my husband. Baby O no longer wants to be around him. He screams if he is left in his care. It can’t feel good to know that nothing you do is going to soothe your child. I realize it’s not realistic to say, “Ok, I’m just not going to leave the house by myself until we’re out of this phase.” For my sanity’s sake, that’s ridiculous, and I doubt that it’s going to help him adjust any quicker. I don’t want him to end up being one of those kids that doesn’t leave my basement until he’s 39, just because I couldn’t bring myself to detach.

I’m going crazy here. Advice, anyone?

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8 comments

  1. Kristina Day

    We had minor separation anxiety starting just before age 2. I put him in a wonderful, relatively cheap ($40 considering the hours are 7:30-6) day care starting off for just one day a week. The fits stopped soon after. Lets just say that the first day that we picked him up, he threw a fit because he had to leave. I felt really selfish at first, a day to myself?! I can do laundry without someone running up behind me yelling “Button! Button!” I can fold laundry without my kid knocking it onto the floor. It really has calmed our house down and made things easier on me and on him.

  2. mf6247

    I used to watch a friend’s son, frequently, starting at about 2 he had major issues with separation anxiety. We found it best to have her leave without him seeing, occupied with his trains or a conversation, upstairs. When he’d finally realize that Mommy was gone, he could be very easily relaxed just by telling him she’d be back after … something he could wrap his head around, like after we finish cleaning up your toys.

    • Erin

      I’ve been trying to talk to him about what I’m doing and where I’m going, but I don’t know that at 13 months, he really understands the concept of time. Unfortunately, we’ve found that it’s infinitely worse if I sneak out. He goes into super-panic mode. :/

  3. amierethmeier

    Hi Erin! I can totally relate to this. I stay at home too and my daughter went through the same phase right around 18 months. I’m pretty sure it’s a normal part of their development, but it’s definitely a pain in the ass. The good news is that it doesn’t last very long. The bad news is that it might come back a little later in the development process (like it is right now for my daughter at age two and a half). The best way I’ve found to deal with it is to prepare her for the idea that I’m going to leave and let her know that I am leaving her with someone she knows. So, if I’m going to leave her with her dad so that I can go to a yoga class, I start telling her about a half hour before in going to leave that mama is going to a class and that she gets to stay home and play with daddy. I continue to tell her this every 5 minutes or so until I leave. It also helps if I suggest some things that her and daddy can do together, like play with blocks or go to the park, etc. This has “worked” for her so far with both phases of separation anexity. It doesn’t always work perfectly. Sometimes she still cries for a little while or acts out, but at least I know that she was/is prepared for me to leave and she’ll be ok until I come back. I know it’s hard for her to spend so much time with me and then have to get used to the idea that I’m not going to be there for a few hours. So, I’ve found that if I prepare her for what’s going to happen, it usually goes a little better. I hope this helps! Good luck!

    • Erin

      Thanks for the advice! I’ve been working on telling him what’s happening and trying to prepare him. I guess we’re unlucky that he’s hitting it at 13 months, so I feel like a lot of what I’m saying is going over his head. Man, I hope it’s a short short phase.

  4. denisewoody04

    I agree with all of these suggestions! School is a great way to work on separation, distraction is awesome when you are leaving, and early preparation. Unfortunately I’ve found that sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. So my fail safe tactic from last month might not work this month. When my oldest went through this we would always have whoever was watching him take him for a walk before we left so I think he essentially felt like he was voluntarily leaving us instead of him being left behind. It worked PERFECTLY every time. We still explained to him that we were going and he would say goodbye to us and then go on his merry way. My youngest is a totally different animal and he sounds exactly like your son. He is 3 years old now. I have to make sure that I give him a ton of hugs and kisses before I leave and he likes to stand at the door and watch me drive away and if I don’t remember to look back at the house and wave to him he burns the joint down while I’m gone. I wish I could be of more help!!

    • Erin

      Thanks for the thoughts! I feel like we’re just going to have to tough it out… This is a phase that I’m reeeaaaaalllllyyyyy hoping is short-lived.

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