In preparation for my office moving downtown, I started looking for someone who could take care of Thea a little closer to our home. I was driving about an hour each way to take her to my mom, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law, so it made for long days for both me and Thea. I found a woman who lives down the street from us who is a stay-at-home-mom of four and was interested in taking care of Thea during the days. We had dinner with their family a couple of weeks ago, and they are fabulous! She is sweet, loving, and nurturing, and her three daughters are all older than Thea and were immediately interacting with her and making her laugh. The youngest is a boy and is a few months younger than Thea.
Both Chris and I felt good about the change, although it was bittersweet because T was in such good hands with our family. But adding another 1/2 hour to the commute each way was going to put us in the car for three hours a day, and that just didn't seem fair (or fun) for Thea. So we decided to move forward, and started with the new family on May 16. The first week went very well, but this week has been a little tougher. She started crying when I drop her off, which is absolutely breaking my heart. I feel awful when she cries and reaches for me, and there isn't much I can do other than give her a hug and a kiss and promise her I'll be back soon.
There are a million reasons why she could be struggling. Change is hard on babies, not just adults. She has three new teeth poking through on the top. Maybe she's having a growth spurt, which is why she is so tired all the time. I wake her up every morning to go to their house. I even read about developmental changes that occur between 9 and 12 months where babies experience separation anxiety because they haven't yet learned that the people they love will always come back.
There are things I can do to hopefully ease her stress. When we play, I can play hide and seek with her toys so she learns that they do come back. I can talk to her every day and every night about the plan for the next day, getting her more used to the routine. In my mind, because she doesn't talk yet, I think she doesn't understand me. But this isn't true, because when I give her a warning about doing something I am trying to teach her not to do (like hit the keyboard on my laptop), she looks and seems to know what I am saying. So I can reassure her multiple times a day that I will always come back.
It's not a trust issue with the babysitter. I know she is wonderful and that this is more of just a difficulty with change than anything else. Thea is also used to having 1:1 attention from her caregivers ,while this mother has several other kids pulling her attention in different directions, so I imagine that is hard on her too. But I also think that these things are good for her to learn, as it helps her understand sharing, patience, and other important values, even at such a young age.
I wish that the solution could be for me to stay home full-time. But with Chris in school for at least another year and a half, this just isn't an option for our family. It's hard every day to leave my sweet baby in the hands of someone else. But I am thankful for people that I trust and who give her love and care when I have to be away from her.