Single Mom. Three kids. Time to go on a vacation, right? But without the kids? Who does that? Apparently, I do.
As I get deeper into my craft of writing and with the recent events of my life, a getaway with some good ol’ fashioned soul searching was what I needed. So, I went on a ten day trip last November… without my kids.
After posting pictures and getting home, enjoying the holidays, I started talking to my friends with kids. I talked to one couple in particular, Rodney and Victoria, who are preparing to go on a honeymoon. Naturally, they’ve been nervous about leaving their two little ones. I shared a little of how I handled leaving my kids with them and received positive feedback. And it got me thinking about all the blogs out there on how to travel WITH kids, but is there anything out there about leaving them at home? I don’t know. I didn’t research it, so maybe there is a bunch out there. Haha either way though, I decided to share it with any of you who are going on a trip and nervous about leaving those babies.
- Have a schedule. We hear this a million times. From the moment I gave birth, I read about getting my baby on a schedule. Later, my kids would be temperamental toddlers or know-it-all preschoolers. Again, I would read: Get them on a schedule to ease their anxieties. So let’s apply it again: the best defense is a good offense. If your kids have a schedule that they’re used to BEFORE you leave, and your caretaker just substitutes in to maintain this schedule, the better off everyone will be.
- Be organized. Prepare a folder. Eww – I’m notorious for being unorganized. I’m always running 5 minutes late. My purse is like a vortex of old mail, boogered Kleenex, rando cords, jewelry, and about 8 lbs of loose change. I repeat: I am NOT known for being organized. That being made clear, if I am leaving my children to go 1000+ miles away, you best believe I’m putting together a folder for their caretaker (thank you Mom and Dad aka Grandma Lori and Grandpa Brian — best people on Earth). I left a folder for them with a schedule for the week. It also included any money the kids needed that week in labelled envelopes. Other things to be sure are in the folder: Homework, birth certificates, insurance cards with letters of consent to give care. Don’t forget to put your flight information in this folder either. My Uber organized mama appreciated this too.
- Letters. I wrote each of my children a letter about why and how much I love them and placed it in a sealed envelope with strict instructions that they could only read it alone (or have it read to them alone). This was for that time when they were REALLY missing Mommy. Sophie read hers 4 days in. Lydia was a little later, and Jax never needed his opened. In fact, it’s still sealed and put away for him to find some day.
- Faith the Unicorn. This was another surprise for them. I bought two stuffed unicorns. I packed one of them in my suitcase and the other one I packed with them with (yes) another letter. The letter told them that I had their unicorn’s sister traveling with me. I told them that if they ever feel far from me, just give their unicorn a squeeze and know that I’m squeezing my unicorn too. We took pictures of what we were doing with our unicorns and the adventures we were having. They named their unicorn, Hope. It was a special connection, and I’m really glad I did this. *Note – if you want to go the extra mile, do like I did and spray some of your perfume on the unicorn.
- Bribe them. I may or may not have packed some candy and small toys with their letters. I’m not above distracting my kids with buying them shit. It’s just solid parenting.
- FaceTime. The beauty of this overly technologically dependent culture? Friggin FaceTime! My kids can see my big ol’ mug up on their screen at any time. FaceTime: Use it. Love it. Have scattered conversations at awkward angles with it.
- Send a Post Card! I had this idea a little too late. I know I already wrote the letters, but is there anything cooler than getting mail as a kid? If I would have thought of it earlier, I totally would have bought a post card for each of my children, hand written a message, and sent it out as soon as I landed. It’d be something that they could keep forever! (I’ll forgo the letters next time and do this)
- Enjoy yourself. There was multiple times were I thought, “What the hell have I done?” I’d get extreme anxiety, nearly bordering on panic. Faith the Unicorn surprised me in how she helped with this. Here, I thought she was just for the kids. Turns out: Nope, I needed that connection too. While hugging her, I’d have to talk myself down a little and remind myself that if I don’t let this trip enrich me and work through me, then it will all be for not. Don’t let your travels be for nothing! Enjoy yourself! You deserve it!
1. Have a set schedule before you leave them.
2. Compile a folder of crucial documents, money, homework, etc.
3. Write them a little letter, making them feel special – because they are!
4. Give them a prop to take photos with and give yourself a similar prop to do the same.
5. Buy them shit. Bribery is ok once in a while.
6. FaceTime those little nuggets.
7. If you can, get a post card out to them. So cool!
8. Enjoy yourself and allow your getaway to feed your soul the way it’s supposed to (feel free to use your prop during your panicky moments)
I hope my little experience with traveling without my kids helps you on your next endeavor. Make this your own. I’m a writer by nature, so as you’ll notice, I wrote a lot to them– but you do whatever you gotta do! It’s just about making that connection and shrinking the feeling of distance.
If you found this helpful, I invite you to follow me on Instagram or Facebook, @31MainStreet — Please comment with any pointers you might have — how do you manage leaving your babies? Is there anything in particular that you’ve done in the past that really worked for your family?