Have you heard of the term, “Sepanx?” It stems from 2 words: Separation Anxiety. This is usually associated with kids who suffer from it when they are in a new, unfamiliar place and need the reassuring presence of their parents. Or when they get left behind by parents at home or at school.
But did you know that parents can also suffer from separation anxiety? I just found out for myself that the struggle is real!
HOW I FOUND OUT ABOUT SEPARATION ANXIETY IN PARENTS
PRESCHOOL FIELD TRIP
When my son, Joshua, was in preschool, parents were always included in their field trips.
Oh what fun we had! Imagine the excitement of boarding the bus together, traveling to our destination while watching the view from the window, munching on our favorite snacks, going around and enjoying the field trip site together, hugging and snoozing in the bus going home.
It was like going back to our own childhood field trips!
Plus it was a great opportunity to have a solid 1-on-1 bonding experience with our child. It was precious!
It was so much fun that I was feeling very sad and sentimental on our last field trip together during Joshua’s Kinder year. I knew that it was the last time parents would be allowed to join in the field trip.
Funny, I was already having anxiety over something that will happen the following year.
BIG SCHOOL FIELD TRIP
Well, big school was different.
No parents allowed in field trips. What?!
These were 6 to 7 year olds in 1st grade and parents felts they were too young to go on trips by themselves. But we have to follow school policy, we had no choice.
Since we were not allowed to accompany our chid on their 1st Big School field trip, the preps were quite different.
1. Pack light.
We had to pack their backpack with only the necessary items listed by the school. This is to ensure that our kids won’t have a difficult time carrying their bag by themselves.
No more “Mommy necessity items,” just big boy items.
Hmm, maybe the cloth for their back to ward off sweat is the extra necessary item you need to sneak in.
You know kids, they will always run and be sweaty. You don’t want them catching a cold when they enter the air conditioned bus.
2. Pack their favorite lunch.
Since our kids will go solo on this trip, we had to make sure their snacks were appetizing enough for them to want to eat by themselves.
Let’s face it, kids only eat what they want.
The food we included had to be their favorites yet easy enough to be handled by the kids without causing too much spills.
Use reusable containers.
Transfer their favorite snacks in them so they won’t need to keep opening packages. This will also limit their trash.
And pack lots of water!
3. Sleep early.
They may be so excited to go on their trip but you need put them to bed early. They will need all their energy for them to enjoy their field trip.
You don’t want them to miss their bus early the next morning… Or do you? Haha!
4. Give lots of reminders.
Now that they’re all packed, you need to show them where everything is.
Have them open the zippers of their backpack to check where to find their stuff.
Have them see their lunch bag and what each container has so they won’t overlook where lunch is.
And keep reminding them to stick with their assigned buddy so they won’t get lost.
Most important of all, follow teacher’s instructions at all times.
Now they’re all set!
Since Joshua slept really early the night before the field trip, we had no problem waking him up to make it to his early school call time.
In fact, it was so early that when we got out to our gate, Joshua remarked, “Mama, it’s still night time! Wow, look at the stars!”
Haha! It was still really dark out.
At The Gate
I already gave my kiss and said my goodbyes to Joshua at his school gate, as we usually do.
But then I saw the buses inside the campus and asked the guard if I could take some pictures of them. Go.
So I hurriedly caught up with Joshua and we walked together to his classroom.
At The Classroom
I was mightily surprised to find may parents waiting outside the classrooms.
Turned out that parents were allowed inside the campus because it was field trip day.
When I asked some of them til when they will wait, they answered, “Til the kids board the bus.” They wanted to know what bus number their child will ride in.
I was really keen on leaving immediately so Joshua won’t feel any sepanx but I decided to follow along with the other parents hehe.
Bully in Action
I was glad I decided to wait because I saw how one classmate bullied my son.
When Joshua entered the classroom, all his classmates were all smiles and exclaiming, “Hi, Joshua!”
But there was this 1 kid who suddenly said in a sing-song manner, complete with exaggerated, ugly facial expressions, “Hi Joshua! You’re gonna cry again. You will say ‘I’m miss my Mama!'”
Good thing another parent, a preschool teacher whom I was friends with, was inside the room fixing her son’s backpack. She was quick to reprimand the kid with a, “Shhh!”
After the initial shock, I was quick to recover and told the kid from the doorway where I stood, “His Mama’s here. I heard you. Don’t do that again.”
Of course, the kid was surprised and hurriedly faced front in his seat.
Boy, was I tempted to go to him to ask his name. But his parents might be outside and accuse me of harassing their kid. I just took note of where that boy was sitting so I could tell their adviser about it later.
*NOTE: WATCH OUT FOR MY BLOG POST ABOUT BULLYING
At The Line
It was time to go!
The kids went outside their classrooms in neat lines. They were following a leader with a flag and their adviser.
Of course, the parents all walked along beside their line, giving all kinds of “bilins” (reminders) and instructions. The kids’ reactions, “deadma” (ignore) haha! They were so focused on keeping in line.
At The Bus
Each section was assigned a bus and my son was in Bus #1, yay!
Last chance to say goodbye! Parents swarmed their kid’s respective buses and tried to wave or take photos of them inside the bus.
The scene looked like there was some famous celebrity in the bus and there were fans excitedly waiting to catch a glimpse of them haha!
Only this time, our kids were the stars and the parents were the fans.
It was heartwarming when Joshua suddenly stood up from his seat, saw me from the windshield of the bus, and waved.
Awww! I got to wave goodbye!
Time To Go
Bus #1 started to roll.
Yay, my son’s bus was the lead bus!
I stayed put and took a video of them leaving. I was waving just in case Joshua was looking out the window.
He waved back, yahoo!
That was a really good goodbye for me.
Parents Go Home
The buses were gone, it was time for the parents to go, too.
I was teasing the other parents that they were feeling sepanx that’s why they stayed til the kids left.
But as I was walking out the gate, I started experiencing a heavy feeling in my chest.
No, not a heart attack!
I was feeling separation anxiety! Haha the joke was on me!
Maybe it finally sinked in that my kid was on his first solo trip. That he was grown up enough to be on his own, not needing my help or supervision.
Letting go is hard to do!
SEPARATION ANXIETY PARENTS’ STORIES
I got to talk to some parents and heard some very interesting stories showing their struggle with separation anxiety (I kept their names abbreviated for privacy).
Mommy J had a difficult time signing the permission slip for the field trip.
Her son was constantly reminding her, “Mommy, sign my slip na!”
When the due date for the slip was done, her son once again reminded her, “Mommy, sign it na! Teacher already gave a note to submit the slip na.”
To which Mommy J replied with a confused look on her face, “Teka anak, iniisip ko pa… Parang di ko kaya!” (Wait son, I’m still thinking about it… I don’t think I can do it!)
Mommy C was putting her son to bed the night before the field trip.
They were hugging in bed while she kept badgering him with lots of bilins (reminders).
It went on until her son interrupted, “Mommy, I think you want me to be late tomorrow.”
“Why?” Asked Mommy C.
“Because you don’t want me to fall asleep!” Was her son’s witty remark hehe.
Early Call Time
Mommy C’s son asked her, “Mommy, what time are we leaving for school tomorrow?”
She replied, “6:00am.”
Her son objected, “But Mommy, the bus will leave school at 6:00am!”
Mommy C replied smugly, “Good. We can just bring you to your field trip.”
As the kids were boarding the bus, there was one mom who kept reminding her son, “O anak, Bus #1 ka ha.” (Son, you are at Bus #1, ok?)
She wasn’t satisfied with that reminder and suddenly pointed to the license plate of the bus, “O anak, i-memorize mo ito! Para siguradong sasakay ka sa tamang bus.” (Son, memorize this! So you will be sure to ride the correct bus.)
I found it so funny, I had to remind the mom, “Mommy, may bus number naman po. Tama na yun.” (Mommy, there’s a bus number. That is enough.)
The same mommy once again gave another reminder to her son.
“Anak, tandaan mo ang phone number ni Mommy ha. Binigay ko na sa yo.” (Son, remember Mommy’s phone number, ok? I gave it to you.)
Poor boy, he had to memorize so many numbers: the Bus number, the license plate and his mom’s phone number.
One thing I was happy about was that I wasn’t the only one feeling a heavy heart when we exited the school after the kids left.
Even daddies were feeling it!
So separation anxiety was not ruled by mommies!
One thing that settled me was the knowledge that that the teachers knew how to handle our kids. They have been taking field trips solo with our kids for years! So our kids were in good hands.
The field trip letter given to parents stated that they would be home by 3:00pm, earlier or later.
Hmm, so what time should we be in school to pick them up?
Good thing Mommy C was a preschool teacher in the same school so she could contact the adviser as to their ETA (estimated time of arrival). She promised to share the info with me, yay!
I got her text message that the bus was arriving earlier than scheduled. So I rushed from my doctor’s appointment straight to school. The bus was already there!
I was mightily impressed with the organizers for getting back early. Shout out to Teacher Pearl, the Grade 1 Leader, for working so hard to making this field trip a success.
I was so happy to see Joshua! They made it back in 1 piece haha!
We could now all breathe a sigh of relief. Separation anxiety over!
Mommy Bonding Time
To make up for my sepanx from Joshua, we had a mother-son bonding right after the field trip.
Nothing fancy, just watching “Disney Junior” on TV, hugging, tickling and making funny faces to each other.
Hearing all his stories about how much fun he had during his field trip really made up for the heavy heart I felt that morning.
I survived my 1st parent separation anxiety!
PARENTS LET GO!
Here are some pointers to keep in mind to help us with this concept of “Letting go:”
1. Our kids are growing up. Keeping them under our wing won’t stop them from growing.
2. We have to ready ourselves for the time that they won’t need our supervision anymore.
3. The only time they will learn to fend for themselves is if we let them.
4. Letting go is hard to do. Show them we are strong so they will be strong.
5. Treasure these moments when they are young. They still need us.
6. Time will come when they will fly the nest. Teach them how to fly!
1. Separation Anxiety in parents is real.
Not only kids suffer from separation anxiety. Parents experience them, too.
2. Our main role as parents is to teach them how to prepare for the world.
We are not here to coddle them or do everything for them. In fact, that would be detrimental to their growth. We have to prepare them to live successfully on their own.
3. Give our kids the opportunity to learn.
The only way they will learn to fend for themselves and be independent is through experience.
4. Treasure their childhood moments.
They are only young once. Savor these moments when they still need us.
As the saying goes, “The days are long, but the years are short.”
When was the 1st time you experienced separation anxiety as a parent? How did you deal with it?
Leave a COMMENT with your answer below!
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