Firstly, here’s a photo of my two little monkeys playing nicely together, just to make this post slightly more appealing:
I really could do with some advice from you all. I think we’ve started having separation anxiety and clinginess issues, and I’m not sure how to deal with it.
SEPARATION ANXIETY: I know that the babies are the right age for this to kick in, and I’m definitely starting to see it with Hattie and Joe.
Joe bursts into tears if I leave him behind in the room (to put Hattie to bed, or into the car, for example), and I have to always take him out of the room first. And Hattie, in particular, has started (as of this week) waking up an hour or so after going to bed, and crying unconsolably until I go to her. Joe does this as well to some extent. Last night, when I was home alone, Hattie started up and then Joe watched me deal with her and decided to join in (which is possibly more about him being clingy – see the next paragraph). Both babies were fine as long as I held them, and then screamed when I put them down. In the end I had to concede defeat and leave them to cry, and which point Joe went back to sleep after a few minutes. I had to get Hattie up again eventually, and I gave her paracetamol in case it was a teething problem, but I actually think she just wanted another fifteen minutes on my knee – she went to sleep after that.
Also associated with this (I think): both babies have started waking up super early – like, 4am – 5am – and our day is starting earlier and earlier. Both babies are still eating really well, and for the past two weeks they were sleeping through until 6ish, so I think they’re just waking up and deciding that they want to hang out with me/us. This is making them and me more tired as the day progresses, which doesn’t help with baby meltdowns. It also increases the chances of maternal meltdowns!
Now, I know that separation anxiety is totally normal, and is actually a reasonably positive thing – apparently it’s a sign that your baby has formed a strong emotional attachment to you – but I think I need to find some gentle strategies for helping them to cope with it, because being a mother of twins doesn’t really allow for the luxury of slavishly catering to a baby’s desire to be touching you at all times… I don’t want to just leave them to cry. What can I do?
CLINGINESS: This is a Joe-specific issue, and it’s starting to drive me mental. As of this week, my previously cheerful little boy has morphed into a grizzly baby who reacts very badly if I don’t drop everything and hold him whenever he demands it. He has had a cold this week, and that’s made him a bit more irritable than usual, but I think that’s separate to the clinginess. Classic Joe clingy behaviour includes sitting and crying when I change Hattie’s nappy, or feed her. I’m not sure how to respond. So far, I’m trying to jolly him out of it a bit. When I can respond promptly, I’m doing so, but not if I’m doing something with Hattie and can’t stop it. Is there anything else I could be doing? Please tell me that this is just a phase!
PROBABLY PART OF THE PROBLEM: I strongly suspect that this two issues are being exacerbated by the fact that I don’t have a daytime babysitter these days (as Natalie is now working full time), which means that the babies are with me for every waking moment, and are becoming increasingly attached just to me. It’s exhausting for me, both emotionally (having to stay cheery in the face of baby meltdowns has forced me to tap into supplies of patience that I never thought that I’d possess), and physically (because of the early wake-ups, and also because they’re both crawling now and I have to leap out of my seat every two minutes to deal with them).
I’m not sure where to find a new daytime babysitter, but we definitely need one. I am quite jealous of people who live near their families at the moment! Maybe I need to consider putting them into daycare for a few hours each week, so I can get a break and they can start to adjust to the idea that the world won’t end if the three of us aren’t together for every minute of the day? I do think that it will help if Tristan spends time with them each weekend, without me, but he’s very busy at work these days and I’m not willing to add to his exhaustion and eat into his R&R time by off-loading them on him for hours on end.
Any comments or feedback very gratefully received!