How can I make it easier to be away from my child for a few days?

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Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. ~Seneca I will be heading across the country (from Southern California to Nashville! Woo hoo!) for five days in July and it will be my first time away from my ten-month-old son overnight. I’ve spent time away from him (10+ hours at times) and I am not concerned about his safety or well-being because his dad is the Superman of child rearing and our son adores him. I’m really excited to be visiting my best friend in the South, but I want to make sure being gone is as easy as possible for everyone.

Do any mamas or papas have advice about how to make the transition of leaving and being gone for more than a day a little bit easier for Rachael and co.?

Comments on How can I make it easier to be away from my child for a few days?

  1. I really recommend having access to Skype. It made being away from his daughter for 5 days so much easier for my partner.

    • Yes, skype. When I left my 3 year for the first time over night, it was a 4 day trip, it helped me to write postcards and buy little things for Bub’s.
      At night when things were quiet and settling down were the hardest times because that was usually our snuggle time. So, those were the times when I would think about how much love and attention we were both getting in different ways. I was getting a much needed break from the crazy fun life of mummyhood and he was getting the much needed time with Auntie and Uncle and Nana.
      Also, it seems like your Bub’s will be with a caretaker she/he is used to so that will help the transition.
      You can show your wee one the toy version of the vehicle you’ll be in. I don’t know how cognizant your child is of you being gone but that helped my Bub’s.
      I gave him a plane and we did some role playing by building an airport, waiving “bye-bye”, flying the plane to my destination, etc.
      Have a blast and treat yourself while you are away.
      Peace!

      • Not to be contrary, but we found Skype didn’t work as well for our 2 year old. He got very upset and wanted Mommy back on the computer RIGHT NOW once we were done, and he stayed upset for a while afterwards. Could be just his age and stage though; lots of others I know skype very happily without that problem. Instead we just have quick phone conversations with Daddy translating on the other end as needed.
        I also try to leave as many ready to cook meals in the fridge as possible, just to take the edge off the evening meal time madness.

        • I agree with this when it comes to younger kids — there’s no way my two-year-old would dig seeing me in a computer instead of at home. I think it could be AWESOME for kids that are old enough to understand what’s going on. When I’m working all day I can’t even talk on the PHONE to Jasper without him getting upset. I think it’s an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of thing for the younger kiddos.

          • I think it depends on the kid – my little cousin (who is just around 2) loves seeing his daddy on Skype and they’ve been doing it since he was tiny! (Of course, he gets very upset when he sees ME on the computer screen instead of his Dada…)

  2. When my girl was a year old, I started a low residency MFA program, which meant I had to be away from home for 10 days every six months. The first time I left, I wrote out detailed instructions for my husband and sister. I realized as I was doing it that it was really for me to feel needed. I called home every day to find my family happy, healthy and having fun without me. It was a little sad, in a selfish way, but it helped me to be able to focus on what I needed to accomplish during those 10 days rather than wishing I could be in two places at once.

    But I admit to a certain satisfaction when I came home and the baby, the dog and the husband didn’t want me out of their sights for a week. 🙂

    • Where did you do your MFA? I’m expecting in August and we’re trying to figure out where to go a year from now when my partner is done with school.

      • I got my MFA in writing from Spalding University in Louisville, KY. It was wonderful and I can’t recommend it highly enough, but there are a lot of other low residency or brief residency programs around the country. There are a handful for visual art as well.

  3. Have your husband take lots of pictures and send them to you!

    Maybe you guys can plan a few fun activities for your son? My daughter is 12 months old and loves playing in water. We’ll set up shallow inflatable pools in the back yard with lots of cups and floating toys. It keeps her entertained for hours!

  4. Last summer I left my then 7 month old for seven days while on a mission trip in not cellphone friendly parts of Appalachia. To be honest, it wasn’t that bad. I was busy all day and only had time to really miss him at the very beginning and end of the day. For him, out of sight was out of mind. He was elated to see me when I got back, but he didn’t realize how long I’d been gone. So, call when you can, but don’t worry too much.

    Don’t feel guilty the entire time you’re gone because, well, what will have been the point of going?

  5. Honestly, at 10 months old, this is going to be way harder on you than it is on your little one. He has no sense of time yet, and even the idea of “days” is confusing because of naps.

    I don’t know if you work, but if you do, I would try not to call to check in more than you do on a normal work day. I’m a teacher and I find that I really start to miss my kids at about 4 in the afternoon, because that’s when I’m seeing them on a normal workday. Allow yourself that moment to either think about your son, or send a text, or make a quick call to your partner, and then continue to go and have fun.

    My guess is that the first day will be fine, the next two days will be tough, and then the last two days you’ll be into a “I miss him but I’m not pining” kind of place.

    My best advice is to check with your partner to see what would really be helpful in terms of checking in. Should you call? Should he? When?

    Have fun!

  6. I’m an International Flight Attendant with a 6 month old. (I’m away every week for a couple of days) and I find that not dwelling on missing your child is the best thing you can do.
    It is good for a Mom to have a break from her children, enjoy your time and don’t feel guilty, as you said, your child is in good and loving hands and they know how to reach you when they need you.
    Also keep in mind that this will be excellent bonding time for the child and father. My partner has a wonderful relationship with his son and he also has a couple of nights a week where he is away and I am alone with our son. Our son is well adjusted and easily stays at either of our homes.

  7. Were any of you still breastfeeding when you went away for a few days? How often did you pump? How did your supply do? I have a nine-month old, and I may be going to a work conference next month and one when she’s 14 months. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • The trick for pumping is to pump whenever you would normally nurse. If that’s not possible, try to schedule a 20-30 minute pumping session about every three to four hours to keep your milk up. I would suggest pumping now to get your girls used to it; it’s a very different mechanical process than nursing, so you may not get much the first few times.

    • I went back to work at 4 months and continued breastfeeding when together and pumping when apart. The first couple days were a bit tough so it is good you are planning ahead. Consider “practicing” as it gets easier and faster with time and it is nice to have a bit of a backup stash in the fridge/freezer for while you are away; have plans for a private place to pump and a refrigerator and/or cooler and cold packs to store it; and expect potential for some engorgement and discomfort (and even watch for signs of a painful blocked duct so you can jump on it straight away to solve the problem before it becomes a horror). I pumped about every 4 hours while apart which was the same as how often my babe was eating at the time.

    • I was still nursing. I was on a construction site the entire time with teenagers and it wasn’t the best place to pump. I pumped before we left for the day, as soon as we got back, and right before bed. It was tough and I never really felt empty (and I had to dump all the milk because the trip back was too long for the milk out of the fridge).

      When I got back I took a few days off of work and my son and I stayed in bed all day, like they recommend for those first starting out. He nursed whenever he wanted to and my supply was back in a few days. I took fennugreek as well, but I don’t think it did anything.

    • Oh god, I can only say don’t not bring the pump. I went on a three day trip when my son was still nursing last June, and I decided not to bring my pump; I mistakenly thought that he was ready to wean, and figured cold-turkeying my boobs was no biggie.

      By the night of day two I was feeling physically ill, and I still don’t know how I managed to escape the whole fiasco without a raging infection.

      Luckily my son (who is still breastfeeding -_-;) got right back on without any issues, and my milk didn’t drop drastically.

  8. I only leave for 10 hours a day, and I still require at least one phone picture and/or video to keep me going through the day.

  9. No advice for leaving a little one that young. I have done it and its hard. It helped to stay very busy.

    I did have success with something when my son was a little older. My husband had to go away for 2 weeks. I knew my three year old would miss Daddy like crazy. I read somewhere to make a paper chain. 1 link for each day that person would be away. Each morning my son was excited to wake up and rip one link of the chain. He could visually see the chain getting shorter and shorter. He knew that when he ripped that last link his daddy would be home. It completely avoided the “When is Daddy going to be home” questions.

    Good luck and safe travels!

    • Ha, I totally used to paper chain technique in college in order to withstand long periods of separation from my then-boyfriend. I’m strangely glad to know that there are other uses for it. It definitely helped, psychologically, to see that chain getting shorter.

  10. I am glad this was posted, because I am leaving my barely 2 year old for 6 days next month and am freaking out about it! He will be with Daddy and Grandma but I’m still sad, especially because nighttime is our snuggle time. I plan to make a chart and have my husband help him cross off each day that I am gone, and I plan to call home once or twice a day. Skype won’t work, he freaks out if he sees me on video and he’s sitting on my lap! He will scream at the computer, “mama come back!”

  11. Honestly, I would try to enjoy the time away as much as you can! These are the kinds of opportunities to have some time away that you don’t want to miss out on, they’re so few and far between. Go out for coffee and lunch, go shopping, etc., and enjoy every minute!

    That being said, I would call and check in with dad as often as you want, but I also agree that trying to talk to your son could just upset him more. Try to remember, it will be harder on you than it is on him. He might have a tough time, but you don’t want to torture yourself, he will be just fine in the long run. Have fun!! 🙂

  12. I don’t think I have ever had a problem leaving my son. The first time we left him he was a month. he stayed with my mother in law for a few hours while we went out on a date. We left him for a whole weekend at my parents house when he was three months. Now he’s ten months and we have the luxury of having my parents keep him on the weekends often, two or three times a month. I miss him but it’s never been a struggle for me, except feeling guilty that I dont miss him like I “should”. I feel like I can enjoy him so much more after being able to recharge.

  13. So happy this was posted! I’m going on an international business trip in October when my little guy is 6 months. It’s only for 4 days and I know he’ll be fine with Daddy. I’m excited about the trip but feeling guilty about leaving him. The “out of sight, out of mind” thing definitely works when he’s with the sitter while I’m at work, so hopefully everything will be fine for a few days while I’m gone.

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