I’m sharing parenting tips on dealing with leaving your little ones for overnight or extended periods of time. Kids are resilient. Although they will miss you, as long as their needs are met, they will be fine. Children adapt fast. I have learned that the effects of our temporary absence is often exaggerated in our minds as parents. You have been doing a great job by providing a balanced, stable environment for your child. He or she knows that they are loved and trust that you won’t abandon him or her. They know that you will be back. Reminding myself of these basic facts help me keep perspective.
This spring has brought a lot of solo travel for me. And with leaving the kid, I take on a lot of guilt. If you know me, you’ll see that I tend to find something to feel guilty about. Before my first trip of the season, I posted on Instagram, seeking advice from fellow parents on how to cope with being away. I received some good advice that inspired me to write this post on reasons why being away is a good thing and strategies to make your time away from your little one bearable.
1. ‘Your baby needs a happy mom, not a miserable one’. Here, I’m quoting Rebecca, an ENT resident mom. She told me how she was so worried about spending any non-working moment away from her son, that it was becoming a pathologic situation for her. She felt guilty working out, taking extra study time, and when she had to take work trips for conferences, the guilt was extra heavy. She was on the path to miserable until she had this revelation 6 months ago. It has changed her life. She now handles being away, and life as a mom, with a balanced mindset. If you are taking a trip away from your little one, you have reason. Whether for work, to learn, or just time for yourself. You need to do this in order to be happy and prevent the development of ill feelings. You don’t want to be the mom who doesn’t take care of herself and ends up resenting her kids for it. In the end, they will grow up into their own independent adult self. Seeing you blossom as a well rounded human will help them forge this characteristic.
2. Before you leave, tell your little one that you’ll be gone for a few days. Even if you think they don’t understand, you should still do it. Children comprehend way more than we give them credit for. Announcing your impending absence to your older kids is a no brainer. Infants may not understand, but still get in the habit of telling him or her that you will be gone. Toddlers are in an in-between stage of fully grasping the concept of time. When I’m leaving for a few days, I tell my 2 year old son that an airplane is taking me away. Using the keyword airplane helps him understand that I’m gone for longer than a regular work day. Taking him to the airport with me also helps him understand.
3. Make extra gestures/leave little presents for them to find when you are away. This idea is from @creatingnewgenerations. She would leave little notes around the house for her daughter to find while she is away. I think this is such a neat idea. Tobe isn’t old enough to read but I could leave little love notes for him and his dad to find in my absence. @creatingnewgenerations also suggests making a new routine, something you do only while you are away. I was thinking maybe providing a special stuffed animal for your child while you are away? There are no limits to what you can do here. Just find something special. Kids love new games and ideas.
4. Video call. This one is an obvious one. @lifewithdrjovita mentioned that with video call being widely available in this day and age, life has gotten so much easier for traveling parents. Such a great point because we tend to forget that not too long ago, when parents had to leave their kids, they didn’t have the option of seeing them the entire time they were gone! We are lucky. This should serve as encouragement for you to go out there and do what you need to do. Your little one’s smile is in your pocket, just a button away.
5. If possible, still participate in bedtime routine. Even if it’s just saying goodnight via a phone call. You can also read books via video call. @mark.goujon does this so his little ones hears his voice or sees his face before they drift off to sleep. So sweet.
6. Bring a present on your return. It serves as nice reward for enduring the time away. It can also help you out when you tell them about an upcoming trip. You remind them of the present you brought back last time. Kids like bribes and it is okay to use them sometimes. Just sometimes.
7. Try to enjoy your time away. You know that your child is well taken care of. Don’t torment yourself with thoughts of missing your little one. You are already gone so you may as well take the time to relax. Do those things you are never able to do with a kid around. Time away will only make the time together more special and enjoyable.
8. Just make the best of the situation. Being away from my son is stressful for me. I try my best to take my own advice and those of others who try to encourage me. I think it is inherently in the nature of being a mom to dread time apart from your child. It’s okay if you are unable to enjoy your time away. It’s okay to be sad, to cry. I’ve done that. But then I remember everything I’ve discussed above and it helps. It’s a cycle. You can be fine one moment and be sad the next hour. But just know that it is okay and healthy to take time away to do the things you need to.
Please leave a comment if you find this helpful 😊 And on instagram, find me @mom_wife_surgeon
Check out @mark.goujon's website www.mymindsetmentors.com