September 3 2009 by Amy Graff
My husband and I are about to take off on a week-long trip to Barcelona. We're celebrating our 10-year anniversary...and we're leaving the kids behind. Two grandmas and a grandpa will be watching our 4- and 6-year-old. This is the first time we have left our kids for an extended period of time--well, actually for more than two nights.
Surprisingly, both kids seem entirely comfortable with the idea. No tears...yet. In fact, every day my daughter asks me, When are you going to Spain? It seems as if she can hardly wait for me to step out the door. She's looking forward to all the ice cream cones her grandfather will buy her.
How can you help your kids feel comfortable with you leaving them behind? Here are some tips.
- Give the kids something to look forward to. We return on a Friday and I have planned fun activities for the weekend when we return--and I have been telling my children all about our plans. I'm taking my daughter to see the musical Annie and we're getting pedicures. I'll be bringing my son to the hobby shop where he loves to check out the model airplanes.
- Talk about the trip. It might seem easier to hide the fact that you're leaving but I think it's better to openly talk about the vacation mommy and daddy are taking alone. I showed my kids where we're going on a map and I told them about the places we'll visit. With my daughter, who understands time, we looked at the calendar so she has a clear sense of how long we're gone. I figure this also shows her that we're definitely coming back.
- Leave them in good hands. My kids know their grandparents well. I know they'll get lots of love and attention (and candy and toys).
- Plan activities for when you're away. I planned a few special playdates for the children with their closest friends. I also came up with a list of fun events--storytime at the library, sing-along at the rec center, live jazz at a bookstore--the grandparents and the children can attend while we're gone.
- Buy souvenirs. I plan to pick up a souvenir for each of my kids. Before leaving I placed orders. My daughter wants a pair of shoes and I traced her foot on a piece of paper. My son wants a toy that you can only buy in Spain.
- Tell them that you'll call. We plan to phone home at least once. The kids know this and it gives them something to look forward to.
- Write a letter. I wrote a letter to each of my children reminding them that I love them and that I will be home soon. When they're feeling sad (if they ever do shed even a tear) their grandparents can read them the notes.