We all love our kids. But you have to admit that sometimes it’s more fun to leave them behind and head off on an adults-only holiday.
However, we can’t enjoy that holiday if we’re worrying about our children at home, so here are some tips to make it even easier to live it up while you’re child-free.
Make a Happy Box Before I left on my last trip I made Emily what we call her Happy Box. In her Happy Box are all her favourite little treasures, buttons from Disneyland, boarding passes, princess figurines, special sticks and seedpods from the garden. We put a special sticker on the box, and we talked about each piece that was in it and why it’s special makes her happy. While I was away she knew that if she was feeling sad she just had to get the Happy Box to feel happy again looking at all her special treasures. And it worked a treat. It’s an easy and effective tool to use.
Talk to your child about your holiday. Tell them where you will be going and what you will be doing. You may wish to read a book or watch a TV show about the place/country/destination or show them on your world globe. But make sure you talk to them about it some distance out so they’re not surprised at the last minute and have time to get used to the idea. I usually start mentioning it about a month out – I talk about where I’m going, what Emmie will be doing while I’m away, and what we will do when I get back.
Make a calendar of the days you’re away. Stick it to the wall so they can mark it off and see how many days there are til you’re back home. You can use stickers, or photos or your children can colour in the boxes. This is something you can do together. Emmie and I draw up a calendar together and decorate it with stickers and drawings before I go, and she marks off the days while I’m away.
Make contact. Now this is a very personal decision based on age, their potential anxiety and the fact that small children don’t have a concept of time, so talking to them and saying ‘I’ll see you in four days’ doesn’t give them a sense of when you’ll return. Previously I have not called or skyped Emmie, but now she is a little older – and she knows where I am and can understand how many days til I return – I’m happy to call and chat to her because I know it’s not going to upset her. But it’s up to you, some kids are fine and it’s great to have some face time when you’re away.
Send photos. Take photos on your iPhone and if you can, text or email them with updates about what you’re doing.
Send postcards! If you’re away for more than a couple of days it’s fun to send postcards your child will receive in the mail. Of course if snail mail doesn’t appeal to you, you can always send an email update each night.
Make a scrapbook or diary. Your child can write, draw pictures or dictate to their carer important things that happened while you’re away, then you can share stories when you get back.
Make pictures for each other. Colour in a picture or choose a photo for each other to hold onto while you’re away.
Star light star bright. Pick out a star and agree you’ll both say goodnight to each other while looking at the star. Emmie and I also talk a lot about the ‘invisible string’ that connects our hearts so she knows that even though I am not near her we are still connected by love.
Leave little gifts. Similar to the tiny wrapped presents I take on the plane, leave some little inexpensive wrapped gifts. These can help if your child is feeling down and can be used in a treasure hunt or placed on your child’s pillow at night or for when they wake up in the morning. Similarly, you can leave little notes – one for each day you’re away.
And the most effective…the BRIBE! Emily knows that for every day I’m in Bangkok this month, she gets a day in Disneyland. She is a little clingy about my trip, but whenever I mention the D word she brightens up and all is fine. You don’t need to promise Disney – a little present or some special time with mummy when you return is just as good.
I hope this is helpful! Let me know your tips and tricks for leaving happy kids at home.