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(64 Posts)
susandevon53 Mon 05-Aug-19 07:06:04

My daughter in law is going back to work in September and I have the pleasure of looking after my 16 month old grandson for 1 day a week.The problem is he has never been away from his mum and so whenever she goes out of site he absolutely breaks his heart crying and sobbing with nothing I can do to console him.we have tried her leaving him for 5 mins and then coming back but he just doesn’t want her to go.its very upsetting for everyone can anyone please help as we are running out of time.

stella1949 Mon 05-Aug-19 07:14:53

If she is definitely going back to work, then you'll have to weather the storm. You know it is going to happen, so be ready with some distractions . If that doesn't work and he still cries his heart out, all you can do is to comfort him.

Mind you, it may not be as bad as you think. This reminds me of when I used to babysit two little brothers for my neighbour. She'd bring them in the morning, and as soon as she went to leave, they'd both cry pitifully, grabbing her skirts and begging her to stay. She'd drag herself away with tears in her eyes, then finally walk around the corner to the bus stop. As soon as she'd disappeared, the boys' tears would stop and they'd head off to play with my son. Come afternoon, the boys would be happily playing and then Dad would arrive to collect them. As soon as they spotted him, the pitiful tears would flow and you'd think they'd been in a torture chamber all day with me. Both parents felt horribly guilty despite my protestations that they were fine all day.

Not suggesting that your DGS is "putting it on" , but I imagine that after the first couple of times he'll be fine. Be strong and provide lots of distractions !

Grannyknot Mon 05-Aug-19 07:19:41

Hi Susan welcome to GN if you're new.

This brought back memories of me having to leave my two small children when I went back to work. Sometimes one of them would sob and cry and I'd fret and phone the creche or childminder to discover that they had in fact settled down. 16 months is too young to explain but (just a thought, I'm no child psychologist!) - could your DIL not 'disappear' in 'practice runs' when you are both with him without drawing attention to the fact that she is leaving? That way he may get used to being on his own with you. Perhaps it is a phase and will have improved in a month or two.

Good luck.

NfkDumpling Mon 05-Aug-19 07:21:24

He will settle - but it may take a few days! I used to child-mind and one little girl in particular didn’t want to see mum go even though there were other children in the house and loads of distractions. The first day I carried her everywhere and she cried herself to sleep. I think it lasted about three days and slowly the period of tears and screams became less each day. (The memory of A is etched in my brain!)

We got to the stage of her stopping crying as soon as the door shut. Poor mum would go to work thinking her beloved daughter was sobbing and only believed me when she crept back and peeped to see A playing happily. This stage lasted a lot longer - the way a toddler can turn tears on and off is amazing!

I would suggest going for an every day drop off - say every morning for a week for two or three hours - with lots of activity planned. Then a whole day occasionally won’t seem as much and he’ll look forward to an exciting day with grandma.

BradfordLass72 Mon 05-Aug-19 07:44:16

I am sure you will find that almost everyone here says the same thing.
The baby will get used to the changed regime, even if it does take a few sessions of crying and sobbing.

Keep your cool, just comfort him (or if he refuses with the old "arched back" trick, just leave him to cry in a safe place if he won't be distracted.

Of course he wants Mummy there all the time, she's his safe haven and some of his distress is fear.

He needs to learn now, with a loving, caring grandma, that he can be safe and happy away from her. It won't kill him to cry for an hour; though it will break your heart to see it.

If you both give in now, he is learning that all he has to do is scream and Mama comes running. Stick to your guns and he will learn a valuable social lesson which will benefit you all.

This weekend, I "babysat" for a 10 year old whose mother's obsessive need to give her son everything he wants, including all her attention, is turning him into a selfish, arrogant and very unhappy boy.

Had she put her foot down when he was younger, he might not be the disrespectful, demanding brat he is now.

Grannyknot Mon 05-Aug-19 07:55:02

The old arched back trick smile

I agree with others, you have to tough it out. I think babies/toddlers sense when you are wavering. Be firm (with lots of cuddles) smile

gillybob Mon 05-Aug-19 07:55:43

Hi Susandevon and welcome to Gransnet.

It’s a shame your DiL has waited so long to leave him with someone else, even for just a short space of time. It’s much harder as they get older. I have had my 4 since they were just weeks old so they have never learned anything else, they just know that sometimes they stay at grandmas house.

Having said that I think you are doing the right thing (albeit a bit late) by her leaving in little snatches and coming back. This will at least help him understand that she absolutely does come back. Of course these snatches of time need to get a little longer over the short time you have to prepare. You need to engross him in some fun play so he will be distracted when she does say a quick “bye bye” ( not a prolonged affair) and make sure she has everything at the door ready to go as she can never come back in for anything she may have forgot.

I hope over time he will get used to this routine and realise that grandma time is fun and that mummy always comes back. Good luck.

Willow500 Mon 05-Aug-19 08:06:26

Yes unfortunately it will be a case of being cruel to be kind sort of thing as Mum has got to go back to work so there is no option but to tough it out. Does he have a comfort blanket/toy to help he can bring with him? Distraction is probably the best bet - get him engaged in something he enjoys as mum quietly slips out of the door or possibly take him out yourself so that when he comes back she's already gone. You've got a few weeks yet to practice so he can get used to being parted from her. It's very hard - my second son screamed and cried when I left him at play school but they said as soon as I'd gone he was fine - he was always playing happily when I went back for him. I think all children go through the same phase at some point.

Good luck!

harrigran Mon 05-Aug-19 08:12:26

There are bound to be separation issues if waiting until 16 months to have time away from child.
DIL went back to work after nine months and GC went to nursery but they were well used to being cared for by others by then.

Daddima Mon 05-Aug-19 09:06:23

I think the ‘ practice runs’ are a good idea, but I’d always tell the child I’m leaving, I’ll be back soon, and leave quickly. ‘ Disappearing’ can make the wee one more anxious in case you disappear again!

cornergran Mon 05-Aug-19 09:24:14

Agree, it’s vital he knows Mum is going and will come back. If you can all manage it I think I’d try to increase the time the little one is with you. You’ve got a few weeks, 5 minutes to all day is a heck of a jump otherwise. You never know you may discover he settles after a short time. I suspect Mum is anxious about it and of course your grandson will pick that up too. Good luck to you all and let us know how it goes.

paulinecnd Mon 05-Aug-19 11:05:15

Susan, I really wouldn't worry. We looked after our grandson one day a week from 11 months. When he was little, he would often cry and grab mummy's leg and howl when she left for work.. Within 5 minutes at the very most, he would be back to normal happy and laughing.

Marilla Mon 05-Aug-19 11:13:10

When I was a teacher and the little ones couldn’t leave their mummy, I used a lovely glove puppet and would ‘pretend’ the puppet would whispering in my ear and then I would tell the child what the puppet was saying. It was a great distraction and never failed. The puppet would get up to lots of mischief but also would gently stroke the back of the hand of the child etc. There are lovely hand puppets out there. Sooty is still available and loved by countless pupils. 😀

gillybob Mon 05-Aug-19 11:19:21

The other thing I just thought of, is for mummy to leave something of hers behind with the little one. I know he is small but she could say something on the lines of "please look after this for mummy until I get back" then make a big thing out of retrieving whatever it is when she returns, encouraging the little one to find it for her. If she uses the same thing a few times he will begin to grasp that he is looking after something for mummy and she will get it back when she returns.

Oh and she should never sneak out without a (not prolonged) goodbye, which is far too confusing and upsetting for the little one.

paddyann Mon 05-Aug-19 11:19:42

Find things to amuse him before mum leaves so that he's settled and happy before she goes.If you start now as soon as you go in have a game or walk round the garden with him and point out things that he can repeat back to you.Just sky,and tree and grass etc .He'll get into the habit of doing it and mum will be able to go with less tears .

My son had to be scraped of me when he started school ,only because it was a strange place he'd been at work with me from months old and went to nursery at 3 ,but school scared him.His lovely headteacher let me take him in the front door to her office where he dusted her phone and opened her letters for her and after the bell went she walked along with him to his class.That was all he needed ,to be kept busy when mum left .Good luck with this,his poor mu must be in bits with it.Its horrible leaving a crying child .

inishowen Mon 05-Aug-19 11:20:27

Marilla, what a lovely teacher you must have been. My daughter leaves her two year old at nursery and sometimes he cries when she leaves. The nursery staff then take photos and email them to mum during the day. He's playing happily and mum is reassured.

Daisymae Mon 05-Aug-19 11:20:58

Lots of excellent advice. Strikes me that if he cried for 5 mins and she came back then from his point of view it worked. So next time maybe 10 mins etc. I would have half days from now on so that he can get used to the new routine. Love the glove puppet idea too. Also you do need to try to relax as he will pick up on your worries. Just needs time and patience.

jaylucy Mon 05-Aug-19 11:25:54

My son was exactly the same - my mum used to look after him on a Monday afternoon so that I could go into town on my own and he used to cry as he waved me goodbye but was ok after a few minutes. Mum used to sit him down with a book or a special toy to distract him.
Some children just take a while to realise that when mummy goes out without them, she will be coming back and they haven't been abandoned!
He was also the same when he went to playgroup - I just cut down the time that I stayed with him each time bit by bit and he was fine eventually.
You just need patience, try different things - even take him out of the house for a walk or in the garden after he says bye bye to mummy - who has to walk out and keep walking, not coming back in !!!

Candelle Mon 05-Aug-19 11:31:39

I think love, firmness and determination are required in equal measures!

Each time, take him to the window and help him 'wave bye bye to Mummy. She'll be back soon'. Immediately give lots of cuddles and whizz into an activity, a good book or even the television.

Repeat this routine daily so the little chap knows what will happen, feels secure with you and realises that yes, his mummy has gone but always returns.

Keep strong, it's difficult for everyone at first but soon becomes the norm.

susandevon53 Mon 05-Aug-19 11:34:51

Thank you all for your wonderful advice I will try all of the ideas fingers cryxxxxx

Welshwife Mon 05-Aug-19 11:35:15

Often with young children they are better if they leave the mother rather than the mother leave them. No idea of logistics and if it would work but could you collect the child and leave Mum at home - looking a bit sad is good too! Try it out and see if it makes a difference.
Often it is just the parting but anything to avoid distress.
It usually works when they are going to school too - a person other than the mother leaving the child.

Summerstorm Mon 05-Aug-19 11:37:20

Having been a childminder for more years than I care to remember I can assure you this will sort itself out. Quicker if you can persuade mum to leave him with you for a what I always referred to as a breaking in period. Starting with a quick trip to the shops and leaving her coat or bag behind, gradually increasing to a morning then a full day. If this can be done as often as possible over the next few weeks it will be a lot easier on everyone concerned. Going back to work after all that time will be hard enough without worrying about the wee one left with you.

NotSpaghetti Mon 05-Aug-19 11:38:57

Can you do this in his home susandevon53?

BlueBelle Mon 05-Aug-19 11:42:24

Ask mum to give him something g to look after for her then he knows she’s coming back
Have something to distract him as quickly as poss I used to sometimes sit mine in a low laundry basket and pull them around until they were laughing
It will get better and remember it’s a natural reaction he’s not ill he’s worried you can’t protect him it’s a learning curve

maddyone Mon 05-Aug-19 11:43:56

Lots of good advice and reassurance on here Susan, so I only have one little suggestion.
As mum will be feeling terrible, could you send her a picture or a little bit of film during the day, so she can she he’s settled and doesn’t have to think of his distress all through the day.