If you are heading away for a break without the kids, this is great
So, making the several thousand mile trip to New York, for five nights, last month was a huge deal for me. We had a very good reason for going and the girls were in the more than capable, and loving hands of their grandparents but it was still a big step for me as a parent.
As much as I knew I would miss my little ones, I was also concerned that Lile and Sábha would be upset while we were away. They can be quite clingy and can also find change difficult to navigate. We didn't set out to plan a strategy to minimise seperation anxiety for them but we did find ourselves doing things that ended up making us all feel more comfortable with Devo and I being away. Including the babysitters!
Here are the six things we did to make life easier for our girls while we were away and that might help you too if you have a trip coming up and have to leave your little ones behind.
We made a very last-minute, hand drawn calendar that represented the days we'd be away. It was my sister that suggested this to me. She is a primary school teacher and knows well how young children respond better to a visual representation of abstract things like time. This doesn't have to be an elaborate affair. As you can see, I drew six squares and a few stick figures to illustrate Devo and I travelling on the plane, and Mamó minding Lile and Sábha. We discussed what would happen on the different days (as much as possible) and focused on the FUN they would have. I then let them colour in the pictures and hang it on the wall where they could cross off the days one by one until we came home. This really helped them understand how long we'd be gone for and crossing off the days became an important part of the bedtime routine for my mama, who was babysitting.
Sábha, in particular, was very concerned about where Mammy and Daddy would be sleeping while we were away. I had told her we were staying in an apartment but she seemed to really need a clear picture of where we'd be. I showed her the room we had rented through AirBNB on the laptop but she wanted to be able to look at it "for longer". I ended up printing it out and she stuck it on the wall beneath the calendar. She then made me draw a picture of me and Devo in the bed ("mammy reading and daddy sleeping") so that she could say goodnight to us every night. This definitely helped her feel more in control of the situation and she was so much happier about us leaving once we had done this.
This really depends on your personal situation/location but having the sitter mind your children in their own home while you are away is a massive help. My lovely mama moved into our house while we were away which meant the girls slept in their own beds, went to naíonra as usual and, most importantly, were in familiar surroundings most of the time. This definitely made life easier, both for them and for the babysitter as young children are much more likely to sleep better in their own beds than in someone else's house.
We don't currently have framed family photos displayed in our house (we're seriously lazy about printing photos!) but Devo and I made sure to leave a large picture of ourselves in the living room while we were away. It's not that we were afraid that the girls would forget what we looked like - but, like the photo of the bedroom, we wanted them to be able to 'see' us or say goodnight or whatever...and... yeah... remember what we looked like too!
While we were away, Devo and I always made sure to phone home at around the same time everyday. We called between dinner and bedtime, had a chat with each of the girls about their day and got an update from my mama about how they were getting on. Luckily all of the calls were really positive. It was oddly comforting to have the girls barely want to talk to us before running back to whatever they were doing. The calls were probably more of a comfort to us than it was for them but it was definitely a lovely part of each day we were away.
It is sunny and everyone is smiling.
That pretty much sums up the entire experience.
I can't wait for the next trip!
She loves to write, craft, create, hang around in nature, bake, read other people's blogs and as many books as possible, listen to music, learn about and experience as many new things as I can in my one precious life. Go check out her blog at www.wherewishescomefrom.comand follow her on Instagram