Every new mum deserves to enjoy some time out – and no, we’re not talking about heading to the supermarket alone. Moments of solitude are one thing, but today, we’re talking about fun-filled nights out with the girls, date nights with the hubby, dinners, dancing, concerts – all the things that were easy in pre-bub life.
Being a mum is considered by many to be wonderful, but it’s an undeniable truth that from the moment you wake to the moment you fall asleep, your heart and energy is focused on your baby. Having a night out won’t remove this focus, it just allows it to be temporarily rested.
A night out will be rejuvenating, connect you with others, and help you feel like ‘you’ again. But it can come with some difficulty – mainly from walking away from your baby. We’ve put together some tips to help ease the process, and make it less stressful giving yourself a well-deserved night out.
Separation anxiety is a very real thing. Babies tend to experience it around the age of nine months, with it peaking around 14-15 months, but parents can get it the moment baby is born. Separation anxiety can make walking away not just difficult, but terrifying for some parents. But there are ways to help.
The less you need to prepare for your night out, the less anxiety you are likely to have. Everything you need for your baby is at home, so it makes sense for your baby to stay there. That way you know the sitter has everything to hand that they might need, and you know that your baby won’t have their usual routine altered.
If you’re worried about leaving your baby with a stranger or a person you hardly know, ask a family member first. If your parents or in-laws are able, make them your first point of call. You might even suggest that they come over the night before to see the routine first hand. This will give you peace of mind that they know what they are doing and allows them the opportunity to ask any questions.
Verbal instructions are better than nothing, but if your baby has a strong routine, it’s best to write specific instructions down. While you’re at it you should make a list of contacts for in an emergency situation, as well as the details of where you will be.
The night before going out, wear a nightshirt to bed or sleep with a muslin wrap and then leave it for your baby as a huggable item. Your shirt will have your scent on it and will bring comfort to your baby if they begin to experience distress.
If you are using a babysitter for the first time, make sure he or she comes with references. Follow these references up by giving them a call and talking to them about their experience with the sitter. Knowing your sitter comes highly recommended will offer great peace of mind.
If you breastfeed your baby, pump enough for the night and the next day. That way you know there’s enough should anything come up and your return home is delayed. Having extra also allows you the freedom to enjoy a glass of wine, should you so wish.
It’s fine to think of your baby every twenty minutes when you’re out, but it’s not okay to call every twenty minutes. The more you call, the more anxious you’ll feel, so limit yourself to one or two calls and trust that your sitter will be in touch if they need you.
If you don’t trust yourself not to call every ten minutes, arrange something that is guaranteed to take your mind off your baby and all the things that could go wrong. Tackle an escape room with your friends, arrange a catch up with someone you haven’t seen in ages, or pick a really engrossing movie. Once you see you can go the whole night without calling, you will feel more comfortable to do the same next time.
Try to recognise when your thoughts are turning crazy. Is there really a chance there will be a zombie apocalypse, earthquake or alien invasion, or are you letting your mind run wild? Will your baby really be scarred for life if they wake up and realise you’re not there? Guilt does funny things to your thoughts, so don’t let these thoughts get the better of you.
It’s important to recognise what your anxiety is – a healthy bond with your baby. Separation anxiety is a normal part of parenting and part of your parental instincts. The goal shouldn’t be to get rid of your anxiety, but to feel comfort in it.
Mixed emotions are perfectly normal when planning a night out, but as long as you plan smartly, your baby is fed, dressed and offered sleep, your baby will be fine. Try to relax and enjoy yourself – you deserve to.