Being away from your child is never easy, especially for more than a couple days at a time! The week before last for work I traveled to Orlando, Florida for a conference. My husband was able to come with me, which was wonderful. We were incredibly lucky to have family who could watch our little man for us so we could use this trip as a little get away. However, previous to this trip the longest we had been away from our sweet baby was our overnight to see Eric Church (read about an important lesson I learned at the concert here). And as I finish up this article, I am sitting in a hotel room on another work trip. After my experiences, here are my tips on how to cope with being away from your child!
Write a Guide
While you can’t be there to take care of your child, you can write a guide to caring for your kiddo. There are thousands of things that you know about your child that no one else knows, even family members. Write a guide to taking care of your child, but try to keep it to one page as to not overwhelm them, and to ensure that the important information is seen. Use categories such as bedtime, bath time, mealtime, general safety, etc.
If it is someone younger who does not have children, they will be inexperienced and need lots of guidance on the general care of babies/children. If it is someone older than yourself such as your parents, they might need guidance on your preferences and some updated safety standards since they had little kiddos of their own. Knowing that a trusted individual knows th basics of how you care for your kiddo can make your time away from your child a little easier.
Guilt and other negative feelings
Be prepared for some irrational negative feelings. You will feel guilty for leaving your kiddo. And then if you don’t feel guilty, you will feel guilty about not feeling guilty. If you are having fun you will feel guilty. If you aren’t having fun you will feel bad about that. You will feel bad if they do well while you are away. You will feel bad if they struggle with your absence. Welcome to parenthood, it makes no sense. Try to enjoy the time away, in spite of crazy conflicting emotions, and remember that you deserve it!
Just remember that if they do well, it doesn’t mean you aren’t important to them, and they do need you! You mean the world to them! If they struggle, it doesn’t mean you are a bad parent for leaving them. You need to take care of yourself in order to care for them, it is perfectly fine.
Remember, “You can’t pour from an empty cup!”. It’s necessary for you to practice good self-care, and have time for you!
FaceTime and Skype are great ways to stay in contact with your little sweetie, but it can make your time away even harder. Know yourself and your child, and if it will be too hard don’t feel bad about sticking to old school phone calls. We face timed our baby twice in the 5 days we were there, and we called at least once the other 3 days. It was wonderful to see his bright and beautiful face, but I definitely teared up when we had to say goodbye. It had been hard on this trip as well.
Have whoever is watching your child keep you posted on what they are up to. Pictures of them napping, eating, and just going about their day can help you to feel more connected to what is going on in their lives during your time away. My in laws sent us pictures of our little guy, and one of my favorites was of him sleeping through the air show with jets flying over head! That angelic face sleeping through loud noises was just what I needed! On this trip, my husband has sent me tons of pictures, of our little cutie eating scrambled eggs for the first time, and after his bath. Download a few of your favorite pictures to your phone to bring a long as well while you are away from your child.
All in all…
It will be hard. You will second guess your decision to go a million times. But it will be worth it. You will come back relaxed, and ready to take on all the responsibilities required of you. You’ve got this! And you deserve a break.