Last month I went on two separate trips within weeks of each other without my kids. The first was a humanitarian trip to the Dominican Republic. It was actually the first time I traveled without the kids or my husband. So it definitely felt a little strange leaving them ALL behind! A few days after returning from the trip I set off to New York City with John for three days. While those trips were needed, both professionally and personally, they weren’t easy emotionally. I went through a series of ups and downs, before I left, during the trip and upon returning home. I have a feeling that I’m not the only mom out there that goes through these 5 stages when leaving on a trip without their kids. Right??
Stage 1 – Excitement
Haven’t you been wishing and dreaming of this? A kid-free vacation like you used to have before kids? No concerns about naps, feeding schedules, entertaining anyone else but yourself? You can lay on the beach all day and tan, or stay in the adult-only pool that now seems like a mysterious and magical place. You can stay awake till 1am and sleep in until noon UNINTERRUPTED!! You can eat when you want and not have to worry about keeping snacks with you at all times. You can read a book or do nothing at all. Basically, the world is your oyster and you better leave now before….
Stage 2 – Guilt
You haven’t even boarded the plane yet and you already feel the mom guilt coming on. I once spent an entire plane ride just crying my eyes out. For no reason other than that I felt guilty for leaving my kids behind and going on a trip (to Disney World, on Mother’s day nonetheless) without them. You know that your spouse and support team (aka – my parents) are more than capable and will remember to pack their favourite snacks, and pick out their favourite clothes, and will remember to take them to their activities, but you feel guilty that you’re asking someone else to do YOUR job!! If the plane hadn’t taken off already, you probably would have already bolted out of there, and hopped into the cab to go home!
Stage 3 – Regret
You see all of the other families traveling together and having fun. All of the kids seem to be well behaved when they are joyfully jumping into the water. You totally regret not bringing your kids with you (even though you couldn’t because it’s a work trip) and vow to never do it again! You regret that you didn’t spend more time with them before you left, that you didn’t read them one more book, that you didn’t play just ONE MORE GAME!! You call them on Facetime immediately to see them and tell them how much you love them, BUT… they are too busy doing their own thing to really talk to you.
Stage 4 – Withdrawal
You’re sad, guilt-ridden and regretful, but your little sweet rugrats don’t even care! I mean, of course they care, but they are not doing a good job of showing it. Instead of spending an hour speaking to them on WhatsApp, you ended up speaking to your spouse who reassured you that everything is just fine! But how can everything be fine if they are home without you and you are hundreds of miles of away? Does this mean they don’t need me? Are they actually functioning without me??? There’s nothing left to do but sulk! You want nothing to do with this trip because if you can’t enjoy it with your loved ones, should you even be enjoying it at all???
Stage 5 – Sadness
So clearly your family doesn’t need you and now your trip is ruined because how can you even enjoy it knowing that your family doesn’t need you. This was a mistake! Clearly, you shouldn’t have gone and now there’s nothing left to do but sit on your bed in your hotel room by yourself and cry until it’s time to get back home to your precious kids and family who will surely making you feel happier and better!
GET BACK HOME – Happiness as you’re engulfed in hugs and kisses by your loving family.
1 HOUR LATER – “I need to go on a solo vacation stat…”
Repeat stage 1 – 5 indefinitely!