If there is one phrase that strikes fear in the hearts of preschool teachers everywhere, it is this one:
"This is the first time I've ever left him with someone else."
Leaving your young child with another known, trusted adult is good for him and it is good for you. Whether it is a local college student, a nanny, or grandma, your child needs to see that another adult can take care of him. He also needs to understand that you know he is capable of being cared for by another adult. And the longer you wait, the harder it is.
The worst separation anxiety that I've experienced as a preschool teacher is when a 2-3 year old comes in at the beginning of the year having never been away from mom and dad. Children in that age range are starting to express autonomy. Besides being scared that you are leaving, your child may also want to see if he can control whether or not you leave. This ramps up the drama 100%, making everyone feel worse. And while your child will eventually get past it, it doesn't have to be this hard.
So if you've been skipping dates with your significant other or girl's nights out, remember that taking care of yourself makes you a better parent. This includes leaving your child and spending time doing things that are fulfilling to you. And not only is is good for you, it is good for your child.
Let Them Fly!