When you get married you go on a honeymoon, when you are pregnant you go on a babymoon, when you have kids and you travel without them you go on a ???. I have been racking my brain for what it is actually called..when you go away with your husband and leave your kids at home. I first tried to be witty and think of something catchy for the title of this blog, but eventually I realised I couldn’t come up with anything because there are actually no words for it.
I just got back from a trip to Bali with my husband. He works crazy hours and we don’t spend a lot of quality time together and often when we do, we are mummy and daddy. We are not the couple that look at each other and remember how in love we are, we are not walking a along the street holding hands.. we are pushing prams, feeding kids, on the phone, on Facebook (guilty!) and are caught up in the madness that is our family. Don’t get me wrong.. I would not have it any other way, we are obsessed with our family and with family life but it’s no secret that sometimes I crave some time together. So we decided on a trip together and I was slightly anxious from the very moment we booked our tickets.
My way of dealing with the anxiety was to feel as if I would still be in control even when I wasn’t there. I will give you my tips in case you have the opportunity to do it as it really ran smoothly.
1. I made very specific schedules for the two sets of grandparents and ran through it with them all together so there was no confusion.
2. I packed and labelled large gladbags filled with each girls clothing for the day. Each bag had a full outfit in it..clothes, socks, undies. This way it took the guess work out for the grandparents each morning (and I knew they still looked fashionable in my absence.. don’t judge me!)
4. I got a gorgeous wooden letterbox from Dear Little Letterbox (www.dearlittleletterbox.com) and filled it up with love letters that I was sending from Bali for them (or so they thought). The instructions were that if they were missing us, to use it as a distraction. It also came with letters and pencils, so they could colour in on them too.
5. I left a present a day per child. This was to be given at the end of each day as something to look forward to. Nothing amazing, a little book, stickers, a bouncy ball. Just a little something so they would know that we were thinking of them.
The morning I left, I dropped my older daughter at pre-school and reminded her that I was leaving for Bali that day. I had only told her a few days before about us leaving. Telling
her too early would have been useless as three year olds often can’t c
onceptualise time and I was also worried that if she pondered about it for too long she would become a little anxious about it. The flip side was that telling her too late just wouldn’t be fair to her. When I told her, I kept it very positive. I told her she was going on an amazing holiday, a few days with one set of grandparents and a few more with the other and I kept saying how lucky SHE was. I really tried to get inside her little toddler head and see the situation how she would, remembering that three year olds find it difficult to think outside of themselves. So I kept talking about all the wonderful things SHE was going to do. I also kept using the same words “mummy and daddy always come back”. So when I dropped her off at preschool before saying goodbye, she seemed to have really grasped what was happening. I also asked her for a list of presents I needed to buy her in Bali.
1. Tutu, 2. Sunglasses. 3. Teddy.
Cuddling my 18 month goodbye was a little harder as obviously I couldn’t explain anything to her and just hoped out of sight was really out of mind. For her, not for me.
While we were away, we Face-timed twice a day. I made it a priority that no matter where we were, be it by the pool, shopping up a storm or even from a rice paddy .. I stopped and checked in with my girls. I would sing a song with Rafaella and have a quick chat with Mikah – if she wanted too!
I missed them insanely of course but I really did manage to drop the usual mother guilt that I feel, which is not an easy task for me – I suffer from extreme bouts of mother-guilt. I justified the whole trip by saying to myself “I deserve this. I need this. This is going to make me a better wife and a more patient mother”. My husband and I got to sit across a table and talk. Yes look at each other and talk, something I really don’t take for granted since having the kids. We caught up on some much needed sleep and some much needed laughter. I even realised how much I was eating. It was like the bear storing up food for winter, only in reverse. I don’t get time to eat at home because I’m rushing all the time and with time to myself, I couldn’t stop feeding my body.
Coming home was quite the anti-climax. I RAN in expecting a royal entrance.. cheers and excitement from all, a bit of a red carpet rolled out even. I ran in with open arms to see Mikah watching TV and didn’t even turn to look at me and for Rafaella to still be in bed. Pfft! Eventually I got my missed kisses and squeezes.
After a little anger and hostility from Mikah, everything is back to normal and Rafaella is a little clingier than normal but I’m kind of loving that. They have definitely picked up a few bad habits from the week from being spoilt by grandparents but I’ve decided that’s the price to pay for going away without them..
But it was worth every cent!