Yesterday as I was leaving the house I turned to say goodbye to my boys.
“Bye guys. Leaving now. I’ll see you Sunday,” I called out.
I closed the door behind me and grinned. And while I couldn’t see them through the door, I’m pretty sure they were grinning too.
I was off on another world jaunt that keeps me fulfilled personally and professionally and they were about to embark on a full-on boys only weekend, free of an over-attentive mom honing in on the fun.
Leaving the kids at home isn’t that easy for every mom. I hear the stories all the time of moms who close the door, crumple and sob on the other side. It can be tough and even tougher when you haven’t ever done it before.
1. Harp on what they’re getting, not what they’re losing: The conversation with your kids shouldn’t be about “mommy leaving.” Instead focus on what they gain: “You get to spend time with Nana this weekend!” or “What games do you think Daddy will play with you on Saturday?” are bound to create more smiles than tears.
2. Don’t try to be in two places at once: It’s hard but if you’re going, go. It just makes it tougher on everyone involved if you’re still trying to control what the kids eat at home. You’re a mother so there is no way you’re leaving them in the care of anyone who would want less than the best for them. Trust that instinct and go.
3. Limit the connection while away: Calling home three times a day might make you feel better but chances are its only reminding the kids that you’re not there. If you do need to make contact, make it at an agreed upon time with the caregiver so that you don’t upset the new routine. Interrupting their Bingo game with a call that gets the kids upset isn’t going to help the situation.
4. Don’t be ruled by other people’s expectations: My first day back to work after my first child I had person after person walk into my office and offer their condolences about how sad I must feel to be away from the baby. The truth? It was a welcome break. I knew my son was being well cared for and I was glad to have adult conversation and brain-taxing work back in my life. Still the visits led to guilt. Don’t fall into that trap. Whatever feelings you’re having are valid. Acknowledge them and move on.
5. Resist the urge to make up for the time you were away: Kids are smart. Start offering presents and apologies now and you’ll be offering them forever. It also leaves them with the impression that you have something to make up for. You don’t and you can’t. Time away to rejuvenate or improve yourself or your business demands no apology. Instead talk about what you did and where you went and how you missed them. And then listen to the same from them. You may be surprised to find they were just fine without you. Hard to swallow but perfectly healthy.
Heather Greenwood Davis is the Globetrotting Mama. After years of traveling with and without the kids she’s gearing up for a one year round the world trip where they’ll be together 24/7. Read all about it at www.globetrottingmama.com