So recently we took a holiday without Naomi! I’m such a worrier, so leading up to it, it was completely nerve-wracking!! But we had a fun time and I’m sure Naomi did too. Hope this posts helps you if you’re thinking about it too.
So my twin sister who lives in the States was due back in Australia and because I miss her so much, we decided to plan a trip to see her. We also saw some super cheap fares to Hawaii so we planned it to happen around the same time. I had my heart set on Hawaii for a while, ever since I saw it in a Japanese mommy/kids magazine and thought it could be a nice place to holiday with a young child.
When MIL heard of our plans, she volunteered to babysit for us! I was so surprised. I wasn’t sure whether to say yes or no. I wasn’t expecting it at all. But she loves Naomi and living interstate means she doesn’t get to see her often. Part of me knew I would be very anxious about leaving Naomi (she was just over 2 years old) since she doesn’t see MIL on a regular basis, they live interstate; plus what if we DIED?? but the other part of me knew that these opportunities don’t happen every day.
After some praying and thinking, we decided to go for it!
Here’s some tips that I used to prepare:
- Something to open each day: I read on many sites that it can be helpful to leave little presents for kids to open everyday while the parents are away. So I basically wrapped a whole bunch of little gifts (that I had received but had been keeping for her) as well as some smaller items from dollar stores. I numbered them so that she would have one for each day. Examples included: stickers, colouring pages, small snacks, small crafts, a little pony + brush, a soft ball…
- Something she can ‘access’ us with: I ordered a customized teddy bear from BIG W where you can put a photo on the bear’s t-shirt. I put our family photo on it, so if she missed us, she could ‘access us’ as it where on her own terms.
- Calls: It can be helpful to Skype but we decided not to Skype because a) the time difference was too much b) she hasn’t really responded with interest to Skyping in the past; its too abstract (it’s like watching a video, she doesn’t interact). We did send photos of ourselves though.
- Songs: I think I left a recording of me singing her bedtime song for granny (Twinkle twinkle) to play.
- Giving her time to transition in and out: Because she doesn’t see her granny on a regular basis as we live in different states, I decided to allow a few days for her to get used to living with granny in Sydney before we left. Then allow a few days to live with mummy and daddy again before flying back to Brisbane. I was pretty nervous so granny ended up flying over even before that Naomi had basically a whole week to get used to granny in Brisbane, Sydney (with us) then Sydney (without us).
- ‘Telling her’ beforehand: how much can a two year old understand? I thought it’d be too much information to tell her we’d be heading to Sydney, then Hawaii, so 2-3 days before Sydney, I told her about Sydney – and 2-3 days before Hawaii I told her about Hawaii. It went something like: “Naomi, tomorrow-tomorrow, mummy, daddy and Naomi go on plane and go to mah-mah (grandmother’s) house” and, “Naomi, tomorrow-tomorrow, mummy and daddy go away on plane. But we will come back.” After a few goes, if I asked her “Naomi, where are we going?” she could answer what I told her basically. It really helped she had watched a ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood’ episode about grown-ups going on dates and definitely coming back so we sang the song attached to it called “Grown-ups come back” often.
How did it go?
- The anxiety: Most of the anxiety happened the week leading up to it. I kept thinking WHAT IF WE DIE what would happen to her? Sure, a bit irrational but totally possible right? I was with the rest of my family visiting the graves of my grandparents the day before we left for Hawaii and I decided to verbalize my will (briefly) there and then for them to witness it.
- The actual goodbye: We said our goodbyes as she was going for a nap. I was scared she would wake up and panic about where we had gone. I’m told she was upset when her grandma bathed her (and not mummy as per usual) but granny reminded her we went away on plane and she sang the ‘grown-ups come back song’ and was OK after that.
- Being apart: Hawaii (or Oahu rather) was AWESOME! when we had our down-time, I would have moments where I’d miss her and ask my husband if MIL sent over any photos / pics.
- Her granny had planned all these activities that we don’t normally do with her, like bus rides, train rides, and play dates with her cousins, so Naomi had a ball while she was there. She also had a lot of treats (that grandparents tend to give) as well as granny’s delicious cooking so I’m told she had a ball!
- When we returned, she came in the car to pick us up. I could see her little smile as she saw us and it registering on her face 🙂 we couldn’t stop holding hands as we rode the car home from the airport (more me than her). I also read that it’s good to commit time to play with her as soon as I get back (rather than get busy with unpacking) so we played for a little while before dinner to reconnect.
- I expected her to want to continue with granny doing the bedtime routine, but Naomi asked that I bathe her and put her to bed that night! so she didn’t hate me yay!
- Looking back, I probably over-prepared but it meant I could holiday as stress-free as possible knowing I did all within my power to give her a good time without me.
- Would I do it again? Originally I had planned to be away for just one week, but taking into account flight times, time-differences, it ended up being 10 days! I would do it again but for the first kid-free trip my personal ideal would’ve been a weekend, followed by a week.
- Naomi took it REALLY WELL. I heard stories from friends of their kids not talking to them for a while after they returned and I planned for this worst case but really I think she was having too much fun to worry about it. She just had this child-like faith that we would come back.
GO FOR IT! It was such a nice time with my husband doing things we couldn’t normally do with a child around. I’m glad she didn’t come in the end, cause Honolulu didn’t end up being that toddler friendly after all (unless you spend a lot of time at the beach/pool). Pray – decide – commit and don’t worry, it’s all in God’s hands 🙂
P.S Comment below if you want a travel blog post on Honolulu!