I have a chance to travel for 3 weeks — how do I deal with leaving my child?

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By: Cristian Ghe.CC BY 2.0
Before my son was born, I traveled whenever I could. Since my son was born, the longest and furthest I’ve been away from him is a 3-hour plane ride for less than 36 hours. Now I have an amazing opportunity through work to travel with a youth group to a beautiful, tropical country for 21 days.

Here is my problem: my initial reaction hasn’t been “Oh, what if I miss him? What if he gets hurt? Will he forget me? Will he be ok without me?” — it’s been much closer to “HELL YES!! Send me NOW!!” and I feel sickly guilty for wanting this. Our child care situation is a dream — my husband is a teacher so he’ll be off work while I’d be gone, and we have two sets of very involved grand-parents.

So my questions are to other parents who have spent extended periods away from their children: How did you feel? Will I all of a sudden turn into a sobbing mess the second I get on the plane? Were you surprised by your feelings? — Bridget

Comments on I have a chance to travel for 3 weeks — how do I deal with leaving my child?

  1. I say do it. Your husband will be home, and you will also enjoy some recharge time for yourself.

    My husband and I took a 18-day trip overseas. Grandparents came and stayed with her while we were away.

    We are both working parents, so baby had a nanny with her since she was 10 months old. During the 18 days, she had both nanny and her grandparents during the day, just her grandparents at night. We would facetime everyday if we could, factoring in the time difference. We also mailed back a stuffed animal that we showed her on facetime when we were overseas so that she gets a sense of being connected to us. Prior to the trip, I would prep her by telling her we are going away and we are coming back. And that while we are physically not there we will be facetiming. I am not sure if she understood much at 18 months, but i figured its better than me not prepping her or informing her.

    I didn’t start missing my baby until the 14 day mark. That trip taught me that my limit away from my child is about 2 weeks. When we got home, she was happy and excited to see us, and no emotional trauma. She was not extra attached, extra clingy, or acting out. She didn’t get upset when we have to leave for work. Didn’t get upset when grandparents went back home. It’s business as usual.

    Her whole life has been a revolving door of grandparents coming to visit for at least a month every 3-4 months. both sets of grandparents take turn visiting for at least a month with her. So she is very used to grandparents coming and going and face timing with them when they are not with her. I think that helped when we were gone for 18 days. As she didn’t starting getting upset at the end of the facetime until about 3 days in. At about 7 days in, she didn’t get upset at all. Some days she was more preoccupied with herself than facetime with us.

    Baby is going to be 3, and in preschool. During her spring break, I am sending her to Grandma’s for 10 days. My sister will swing by to fly her to grandma and then I will fly and go pick her up.

    I want to raise an independent daughter that is emotionally well balanced. I believe that little set up/negative emotion is part of life and exposing my child to it in a measured way will help build her strength and character such that when she is older she will have the tools and inner resource to deal with major setup/major sadness.

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