I just recently went on a girls trip to NYC with my college roommate. I was nervous leaving my son and husband but thank god for technology. By the time I had arrived at the JFK airport I had already had four FaceTime calls with my boys. Totally normal behavior for a new mom, right? Surely by the time Christian is older I won't miss him as much when I travel.
I met up with my roommate who has a three year old son, Casper. He's incredibly sweet and adorable. Angela had already been in NYC for a few days ahead of me attending an art show that her husband was a part of and by the time we met up she was excited for our adventure, but you could tell that she was missing her son as well.
How old was your son before you left him overnight?
The first time I left Casper for an overnight trip he was almost 3 years old. The second time, this more recent trip, he was 3.
How hard was that?
It did not seem like it would be hard to leave him. I am a stay-at-home-mom. So the idea of having a break and getting away seemed like a dream. However, as the moment approaches where you know you are about to walk away for a few days, I experience a lot of emotions. There is the fear of something happening to either of us while we are apart that is terrifying. There is the notion that he will be inconsolably homesick and there will not be much that I can do. I am also slightly worried about the idea of giving up control. I am pretty type-A when it comes to mothering. I have to repeatedly tell myself that what happens while I am away is fine and we will deal with the changes after I return. For instance, both times that we have traveled away from Casper he has stayed with grandparents. The first time was with my parents and this past time was with my husband's parents. In both cases his routine is completely changed, his diet changes, and the way that behavior issues are dealt with changes. It really throws things off for a short period of time. The other thing that happens, which I was unprepared for, is my homesickness. The thrill of freedom is short-lived. After a couple days of being away, I just want to be able to hold and kiss my boy.
photo credit: travis shaffer
How would you describe traveling without your son?
Traveling without Casper is so much easier than traveling with him. There are these moments that it strikes me how light my luggage is or how few bags I am toting around with me. As most parents of toddlers know, doing anything with a child of that age really slows you down. Walking with a toddler is like walking with the most curious of all snails. Eating while traveling can have similar feelings of luxury. I am able to enjoy my food at a pace that suits me and not be fixated on being certain that my child is getting all of his food groups, eating enough, and acting like a civilized human being while doing so. Conversation while traveling sans child is uninterrupted. When my husband and I are trying to have a discussion with our child around, we rarely finish a dialogue that is started. However, we have found that we are able to talk relentless about one subject, much like we did before Casper, while traveling. We relish in those long talks.
What are the pros and cons?
I think the pros of traveling without a child are the ability to do and see exponentially more than you would have with your child along. You can be a little more selfish with your time and desires, which is not always a bad thing. I found that I was able to connect back to me a bit on this last trip away. When you are with your child 24/7, you tend to forget what drives you and what you are passionate about. Getting away helped to reawaken goals and ambitions and helped me to remember that I am an important person to focus on every once in awhile. An emotionally healthy momma makes for a better momma in my opinion. Another pro is not having to stick to a schedule. There is no child that needs a nap or to eat at a specific time or to get to bed at a decent hour.
I think the cons of traveling without your child are that those experiences are lost in sharing them with the little person or people you love the most. I LOVE sharing experiences with people. I truly look forward to all of the traveling we will do with our son in the future. I have very fond memories of traveling with my family when I was a little girl. It widened my world view and helped me to have desires to be independent and explore beyond my comfort zone and perimeter. I spoke earlier about how slow things move with a toddler. However, when I take the time to go at his pace and take in his wonder and excitement about the tiny things, I really connect with him and see the world through his eyes. Traveling with him will only expand that experience.
You said you felt guilty while on your trip, what did you mean?
There was a moment on my recent trip, where I knew Casper was experiencing some frustration and sadness because we were not there with him. He was feeling out of sorts and confused about where we were. In that moment, I regretted being away from him. I tend to go back and forth on wondering if he is too young to leave for as long as we did. We were gone for four nights. In the end, I think it was maybe a little too long. We managed through FaceTime and through frequent phone calls. The comfort I had was knowing he was in the loving care of his Grandmother. She did a wonderful job with comforting and reassuring him.
photo credit: travis shaffer
ANGELA'S TIPS FOR PARENTS TRAVELING SANS CHILD
1. Be sure to leave emergency information with your caretaker- medical insurance card, primary Dr. information, etc.
2. Travel as light as you can! It is a chance to not to have to drag so many things that you feel like your back is going to break.
3. Send photos or videos to your caretaker often so that your kids can feel connected to you in moments and see what you are doing, etc.
4. Facetime! What a wonderful invention. Now that FaceTime exists, I do not understand how parents used to leave their children. (Well I do, but it is such a luxury now!)
5. Try to have your caretaker stick to as close of a schedule that you normally have with your children. It will keep things feeling consistent and comfortable for them and help things to return to some sort of normalcy when you return.
6. Call to say "goodnight and I love you." I think it is important to end their day by talking to them. It let's them know you are thinking about them and missing them as much as they might be thinking about and missing you.
7. Buy them a souvenir or special gift. Casper was so excited to receive a present when we returned. It was another small way to let him know we were thinking about him.
8. HAVE FUN! You do not know when the next time will be that you get a chance to travel without a child. So make the most of it!