Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Leaving the kids behind - Why, When and how

Have you done it yet? Left your child at home while you travel? I am often surprised at how many parents answer "No" to this question. Many who are just completely mortified at the thought of leaving their child behind for any amount of time and then there are those who just maybe don't travel much, let alone without their children.

My first trip away from my daughter was unexpected when she was 9 months old. My grandfather passed away and I left her home with daddy to fly to California with my parents. I remember how sad I was at first and being it wasn't the happiest of situations in the first place it made it even harder. The trip was quick and I remember getting home feeling like I had missed so much.

Taking the leap - Like a Band aid
A few months later my husband and I decided it was time for a trip without our daughter to have some much needed couple time. We didn't wean ourselves into the process; we just took a week long cruise thousands of miles away from our baby girl. She was home with Grandma - happy as can be. We had a good time (except for those moments I cried on the phone listening to her babble) and she had a great time being spoiled at Grandma's for the week. Taking that trip without the kids, you may find they are having a better time then you are!

Why without the kids?
A few years, several trips and one more child later we have found that our trips away from our precious children are just as important as the ones we take with them! Taking the time to be alone and away from the sometimes stressful routine of diapers, ballet, soccer, school, and work is beneficial to our marriage. We get to spend time together that we may not find at home and experience new things together, reminding us of those more simple times before our children came along. Then, when it's time to come home we miss our children dearly and appreciate our time with them even more.

Cover the bases
So you're considering the first big trip, or maybe you've made a couple already. Have you created a Will? Not something we parents like to even think about, but it's something I guarantee you'll feel better about once it's done. For us it was simple and we used a program we purchased at Costco to state our wishes of who will care for our children and how the property is to be divided if something should happen. A horrible thought, but I felt relieved to know my children would be where I wanted them if anything happened. If things are more complicated in your household, speak with an attorney to have one drawn up for you.

My little "good-byes" left behind
No matter how much I travel I can NEVER seem to get over this slight fear of flying I have. I spend my nights before a flight awake and sadly playing over the flight instructions for an emergency landing in my head. It's a feeling I can't help and usually once I'm at the airport my nerves get better. With those fears comes a thought of my children and ever since my first time leaving my daughter at home I always write a letter before I leave. This is a private letter especially for each child that I seal and put in our safe that is to only be opened in the case that I don't return. I know this all sounds sad and makes vacation sound more like a funeral arrangement, but really it's not! I know that horrible things happen in our everyday lives and it's just that flying sometimes reminds me that life is not infinite and I want my children to remember me forever. So, I have a few letters in my safe right now, I think I had thrown away the first couple I did, but have since just kept them in there. I figure if anything they will be something to read years from now with my children when they are older. The process of writing them can be difficult, but if they were ever to be read, I wouldn't of wanted it any other way.

Tips to make that first trip Easier
  • Leave them with a family member or someone they are very comfortable with and if they are not used to babysitters, begin taking them for occasional daytime stays before you plan a trip, then when the trip gets closer they will be used to you being away. 
  • Try a one night sleep over night before the trip if you're unsure that your child or YOU may not be ready
  • Leave your child with pictures of you and/or your spouse and take some of your own with you
  • Write a letter like the one I described above, it helps to get things off your mind and assures that they will always know how much you love them
  • Start with a short trip if you're not ready for the big leap, even just a getaway in the next town is a good start
  • Provide your babysitter with a list of eating habits, sleep habits, favorite toys, activities and those little quirky things they may not know about your child. This is even more important if your child is not yet talking and can not express themselves to others.
  • Be sure to also provide emergency numbers and a letter of authorization for your babysitter for medical care (simple peace of mind)


Minnesota Mamaleh said...

this is an excellent post with so many great tips-- thank you! i am one of *those* that has never been away from my kids (sans when the others were born!). i admire your commitment to your trips with your husband and the time together as a couple. you're 100% right, that's so, so very important! thanks for the gentle reminder! well done. :)

Sarah, Ohana Mama said...

I love your posts!!

p.s. When are you coming to Maui again? Soon, right! Let's definitely meet up!

Debbie Ferm said...

My kids are now 14, 13, and 11 and we were definitely one of the families who did not have babysitters. I rarely left them to go to the store, let alone a week:) It was mostly because we just didn't have the people around, but also because I was a SAHM, and I probably didn't think anyone else was quite up for the job. Ha!

So we dragged them everywhere, and you know what? That worked out too.

These are definitely good ideas for people who are trying to make the decision now.

You are just writing up a storm around here. Good for you!


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