According to just about everyone in my family, I was a clingy child. If memory serves, I was the child who followed my mom into the restroom when she got home from work. At that time, I don’t think I was aware that my mom needed time to decompress after a long day. All I knew is that I was really excited to see her and talk about everything that was on my mind. Now that I’m a mom whose hideout spot is the bathroom, I understand why my mom needed time to herself.
History has a way of repeating itself which means I am currently dealing with a toddler who is developing separation anxiety. My son has always looked to me for comfort, cuddles, and entertainment but he has recently begun becoming upset if I step out of the room for a few seconds. The latest development is hearing “mama” repeatedly even if I’m a few feet away. There are times when he crawls into my lap and holds on for dear life if I try to get up to do something. Guess where he is as I type this?
If you’re looking for ways to navigate the clingy stage, here are five ways to do so when you need a break.
Acknowledge Your State of Mind
If you feel like you’re in “mom mode” all of the time, it’s important to assess how you’re feeling. We can’t be everything to everyone all of the time, even if that’s the expectation society places on us. When we’re able to be honest about how we’re feeling, it lessens the chance that we’ll take things out on those around us, including our children.
Take a Deep Breath to Help Center Yourself
Sometimes it’s hard to want to feel present when you’re overstimulated, but being able to slow down can help you navigate the clingy stage a little better. Think about it. When is the last time you took a nice deep breath and how did it make you feel? Chances are it made you feel a little more relaxed and able to deal with things a little better. The next time you’re overwhelmed, take a minute to catch your breath.
Encourage Independent Play
It’s no secret that our children look to us for guidance, love, and more, especially at a young age. They are dependent so it makes sense for them to continuously look for us to help them navigate the world around them. However, it’s equally okay to encourage them to learn how to be more confident standing on their own. One of the ways you can do this is by setting aside time for them to play independently. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make time for guided play, but it’s great for children to learn how to entertain themselves while you have moments of “me time.”
Ask for Help and Allow Yourself to Relax
Whether you struggle with asking for help or not, it can do wonders for your wellbeing. If you’re like me, you may find yourself looking for support only to monitor what the other person is doing. It’s the equivalent of helicopter parenting and it can actually add to the frustration we may already feel. It’s okay to step back and let someone else help you around the house or with your child. It can be as simple as allowing someone to bring you a meal or taking your child to the park if you feel comfortable.
Needing a break from your kids doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy spending time with them. It means you’re human. One thing to help you remember when your child is being clingy is that they are not doing it on purpose. It could be possible that children simply want our undivided attention or may be aware when we’re not fully present in the moment. Or they’re like me when I was little—just so excited to be near you.