I recently took a kid-free trip to San Francisco for a best friend’s wedding — the longest I’ve been away from my kids since they were born. My vacation lasted four days, and I was beyond excited to reunite with college friends who live all over the country, and to celebrate the happy couple getting married.
But boy was I anxious, nervous, and sad to leave our 3-year-old and 17-month-old for only the second time ever in their lives. As my husband and I boarded that plane departing Boston, there were tears in my eyes. Now that we’re on the other side of this trip — which we all survived — I want to share a few tips to try if you’re in a similar position:
Handwrite lists of instructions, and tape them to the fridge
We left our boys in the care of both sets of their grandparents, who graciously offered to watch them over the duration of our vacation. So we knew they were in the best hands possible. Our two sets of parents successfully raised four children each, so this was not their first rodeo by any measure. However, it made me feel a bit better to handwrite instructions about what my boys eat, their bedtime routines, their favorite playgrounds, books, television shows, etc., and tape them up on the fridge (even if these were never read).
After a few hours of realizing there were no small voices calling “Mommy,” no spontaneous hugs and kisses, no little feet following me around throughout the day — and when missing them became almost too much to bear — the power of FaceTime technology was key. Being able to see my kids via video was amazing, and I loved seeing their facial expressions as we chatted, and for them to show me whatever it was they wanted to show me. Even though we were nearly 3,000 miles apart, the distance seemed to diminish a bit while we FaceTimed.
Take photos and videos of what you see, and share them with the kids when you get home
On the last day of our trip, my husband and I tried to see a bit of San Francisco, and we walked along the water to take in some of the beautiful scenery. Before long, we were at Pier 39, which is famous for many kid-friendly things — I got so excited when we saw the sea lions sunbathing along the pier, and the bright, glittery carousel spinning around by the shops, knowing my two would love these sights. So we took videos and photos of what we were seeing, to capture the magic of it all and show the kids when we returned home. This would allow them to understand a bit of where we were and what we were doing while away.
Despite missing them, try to enjoy a breath of relaxation
I missed my kids more than I could ever describe in words, but I also tried to remind myself throughout the trip to enjoy a little free time. Knowing they were safe and happy made me feel less guilty knowing I wasn’t there to change diapers, cut up food, fill sippy cups, or wake up several times throughout the night with them. I really enjoyed being with my friends and my husband, and I’m thankful we were able to celebrate the beautiful wedding all together.
I feel lucky that I haven’t had to be apart from my kids on a regular basis, and now that I’m reunited with them, I feel like I can do this again — but maybe not for awhile!