18 answers

Child's First Trip with Grandma


I was wondering, how old was your child/children when they took their first trip without Mom and Dad. My mother-in-law wants to take my 4 year old 2 states away, and truthfully, I just don't feel comfortable with it. It's not that she wouldn't be taken care of, I just don't think she is old enough. Am I being overprotective or is this a normal feeling when your child is this age? I appreciate any and all feedback! Thank you!

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

Thanks everyone for all your advice! It is so nice to hear from other mommies (and grandmas too!) about their experiences. My husband and I talked about it last night, and we both decided together we're just not ready for it yet. I'm sure in a year or two, I may feel more comfortable, but she's still too little I think. Thanks again!!!

More Answers

Out of necessity, we left my son with my mom for a week this summer. We were moving cross country (OR to NY) and I didn't want my husband to drive alone with two cats and a dog. We knew my son could barely do 5 hours in the car, let alone 5 days so he stayed with Grandma while we drove. They had the BEST time, I wasn't nervous to leave him because I very much trust my mom, but I didn't want to leave him--I love being around the little guy. His poor dad sobbed as we pulled out of the driveway knowing we wouldn't see him for a week. Of course, from our daily to semi-daily updates we learned our son didn't so much as shed a tear for us and the 300 pictures my mom took prove she wasn't kidding. I still wish we hadn't had to leave him on his 2nd birthday (parents of the year I know!)...But, for Christmas my mom gave our boy one of those online picture books that she made--Called "The Summer of Alden and Mimi" (yes, one week has turned into the summer :)...She wrote cute little verses about everything they did and he LOVES looking at the book and talking about everything they did. It is clear that it really was a special time for them. So, I don't exactly know what my point is--because on the one hand I hated to leaving my son (he was only two and hadn't ever spend the night away from us), but on the other hand it seems clear that this time is something that my mom will treasure forever and that my son really, really enjoyed. Good luck with your decision!

2 moms found this helpful

I think by 4 years old she is old enough to go with Grandma for a week at is time as long as you trust her and your daughter wants to do it.

1 mom found this helpful

My children were 2 and 4 the first time I left them for a long weekend with a trusted friend. I was nervous about it, but needed to reconnect with my husband so we together could be better parents. It turned out great for us. That said, you have to do what YOU feel is right. When a child is ready depends on the child, and the person who will be the care giver, and how well the child knows said person. If you do not feel your child is ready (you know your child best), than tell your MIL that you are not ready and want to wait a year. If you feel you are just being over protective, then let him go, but make sure he knows that he can come home when ever he needs.

1 mom found this helpful

Our oldest was 1 yr when he went out of town with my in-laws. They were going to the beach overnight and wanted to share that experience with him. I knew it would be hard to watch them "drive away" so I dropped him off an hour before they left (we all live in the same town). All the pictures they have are of a happy boy enjoying the sand and playing in the yurt.

1 mom found this helpful


What a wonderful thing that the grandparents want to be so involved and generous with your little girl! And, with every child, it is an individual thing whether they are ready or not for that to happen without Mom or Dad along.

I have three daughters, and each one had a different level of emotional need, independence, travel ability (though I have been traveling with all of them since they were infants), and idiosyncracies to deal with that only Mom knew and was sympathetic to.

My oldest went on a trip with Grandma and Grandpa to Disneyland when she was 4--and loved it and they all had a great time. My middle daughter was ready for a train trip with Grandma to their home on the other side of the state when she was 2 and 1/2--ever the adventurer and oh, so easygoing. My youngest has still, at 10 years old, not really felt ready to go on a trip without Mommy. She gets homesick easily and is emotionally more sensitive than her now 10 years older grandparents have the daily patience to handle. So when two years ago they proposed to give her the Disneyland trip, they included me along for the ride, and that turned out to be a good thing. She was a great traveler with me, but there were one or two times when grandparents just got tired and needed things the way they needed them at the same time she did--and it was probably a very good thing I was there to just take her off their hands.

Only you can know what level your daughter is at, and it can be hard to let go. But if your daughter doesn't have any particular unusual or difficult dietary or emotional needs, and if she is generally comfortable with overnights to their home, then she's probably ready for a longer trip. If she still wants you to be there if you go visit Grandma and Grandpa, you may want to consider other options--WHILE being very gracious and grateful to them. Maybe even suggesting a trial overnight if they are nearby and if that has not happened.

It's a wonderful thing to expand one's horizons and learn to cope with new people and situations, and I would never want to deprive a child of that opportunity with other family members. But everyone needs to be able to smoothly handle the unexpected, which happens on EVERY trip.


1 mom found this helpful

My daughter is 2.5 and she might be able to do an overnight at grandma's at age 4, but I wouldn't let her be further than a reasonable driving distance. If she gets upset and needs me, I want to be accessible. At 15, different story, but at 4, I want to be available to my kids.

1 mom found this helpful

And you wonder what if something happened to her.
That is a normal feeling. My oldest son went with my mom and stayed with her a few days at 1 or 2. But that was a lifetime ago.
My daughter now, who is 3 has never been away without us. My MIL has always lived 9 hrs away and now she is probably 68 to 70 hrs away (she is in FL) My mother was always about 3 hrs from me but never would have anything to do with her and has only seen her 3 times her entire life... my mother's choice. She is too involved and happy being solely in my younger sisters children's lives.
Anyway... if you are uncomfortable.... don't let her go.
Just explain to your mil that you are nervous and what if something happened. It is normal to be nervous and scared.

1 mom found this helpful

I would totally trust my Mother-in-law. My 4 year old would be fine with it. It really depends on the child and the mother-in-law, I think. I would prefer to go too but hey, if this is your only child...live it up. It's not often us Mommies and Daddies get alone time. Or, go with them.

1 mom found this helpful

I would welcome the bonding time with her grandparent.

4 is a wonderful age, full of creativity, curiosity and new experiences. Any age (unless you are nursing) is a good opportunity.

1 mom found this helpful

If you and your mother in law agree on parenting issues etc then it shouldn't be a problem. When I was a kid we went to grandma's for two weeks every year along with a passel of cousins that came and went. As long as you know she will be entertained and well supervised and that real rules will be followed. You want to know that it will be somewhat structured enough that when you get her back you won't have to re-teach her how to behave. Send anything with her she might "need" be it blanky, bear or whatever. If you allow him to have it grandma should too. If you wouldn't allow him to have it..would she please please do the same? Have a heart to heart with grandma is the best way to solve this. Tell her light-heartedly as possible that you don't "not trust her"..but ask questions. "So when (hubby) was a kid was he in time out a lot?" (It will catch her off guard but she may catch that you are not trying to offend but ask as offhandedly as possible if she believes spanking is okay. ) You might even elicit a knowing chuckle or two. If they are ready for this than really its time to exorcise your right to have some free time now and again. Don't worry you will miss her...she will miss you. You can send a pre-paid cell phone with her perhaps so she can call you anytime..up until the minutes expire..make a two week type limit..or whatever so she can talk to you a couple of times a day. If you have email access maybe pictures of what's going on "in your place" and would involve more her telling you about her day than you telling her about yours. (Your time is your business :) (Two weeks without kids...the things I would..the sleep I would catch up on...sigh)

1 mom found this helpful

I think they are old enough, but I truly believe in listening to you gut. If your gut tells you that it's not a good idea then ask that they wait until next year. You need to feel good about it.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter who is now 5 has only gone to spend the night with the grandparents (they live 30 minutes away). I would not feel comfortable allowing my daughter to leave the state.

Just let them know that you trust them completely but are not ready for this step yet. Perhaps when she is 6 or 7??
Don't feel bad, you are the parent and it is your decision.

I would trust your instincts! I love my parents to death and they adore my children, but having watched them 'supervise' my kids makes me wonder how I survived!! For example, they let my 3 year old go in the hot tub by herself, and stood by when she went under water and didn't surface! Pregnant and fully clothed, I flew across the room and jumped into the tub to pull her out while they just stood there watching her drown! When they visit us, they take them for walks across the prairie in flip-flops knowing full well we have rattlesnakes and they need to wear boots. I wasn't home at the time, but an hour later my dog got snakebit and my mom thought it was a wasp! Luckily I was home by then and rushed her to the vet. They also tease me for using all the safety gear (like carseats!!) but I make them use them.

This may not be the case with your MIL, if you've observed her with your child is and all is well, I'd say go for it and enjoy your vacation!

I wont even let my kids grandparents (inlaws or my own) take my kids 20 minutes away to another town let alone to another state. My kids are 2 and 4 (5 next week). Call it overprotective or untrusting, but it is what it is. I couldn't handle it if something happened to them and they were with thier gparents. Around town I dont mind so much, but we live in a remote area with really bad roads and the chances of something happening are just a matter of time.
I am not sure if this is what you wanted to hear, but its best to trust your instincts and if you have to blame it on being overprotective...thats ok...

I would be VERY careful with this one, and lean on your husband for his instinct and direction here. He, with your input too, should decide what the best solution for the family is and then he should be the one to present the decision to his Mother should the decision be "no". If he is comfortable with the trip, I would highly suggest honoring his instinct. It doesn't matter how old my kids get, as a Mommy I will ALWAYS be uncomfortable with them away from me. Sadly, my relationship with my Mother-In-Law was permanently damaged, before her untimely death, from me (innocently) being protective, unable to seperate, and ever-so-gently letting her know I was uncomfortable with this sort of thing. I never would have insulted her or hurt her intentionally, but it doesn't matter how you say it, she will hear, I DON"T TRUST YOU WITH MY CHILD, and she may never get over it. Your husband needs to be the liason for you. It doesn't mean she has carte'blanche with your child, it is her responsibility to act within you and your husband's parenting plan and guidelines. She probably will realize this is her chance to sink or swim with you. Have your husband lay out firm guidelines for do's and do-not's. It is his responsibility to protect you from the easy misunderstanding that comes so often from daughter-in-law to mother-in-law communications. The chances are much much greater that your relationship would suffer beyond repair, than your child being in any sort of danger with this (and most likely would have a wonderful time one-on-one with Grandma which is such an important bond too). As a Mom, it will never be easy to see your kids drive off away from you or vise versa. Just trust your hubby and his instincts on this one cause it might never feel good to you, but the guys have a more even distribution of emotion in this circumstance. Also, don't make the common mistake of underestimating the major importance of one-on-one time with your husband. This can make or break a marriage for any man and your MIL probably feels like she is giving you and her son a huge gift by doing this! Most importantly, honor his introspect concerning relationships and communications within his family. Good luck!


I see that you've already given a "So...What happened?" update, but I wanted to chime in too.

My son was around 5 when my dad took him on a road trip to the next state over, an 8 hour drive one way. They went to my dad's good friends which are like family to me. Even though I trust my dad, and my family over there I still nearly had a litter of kittens while my son was gone. If I had it to do over I'm not sure I would have let him go.

My daughter is nearly 3 and about all I can manage with her is a couple hours being baby-sat by a family member. She's also a lot more clingy to me and gets more nervous when I'm not around than my son ever has been.

Use your Mommy Instincts that society seems to want to repress. You know your daughter best.

Hope this helps,

I'm a grandma and have had my granddaughter overnight since she was a few months old. I took her alone to the coast when she was 3 or so. At 9 she still spends Friday nights with me so that her mother and step-father can have some time for themselves. We started the Friday night sleep overs several years ago. Hence my suggestion that if your daughter and her grandparents know each other let her go.

I know it's difficult to let go. I remember feeling anxious when I my daughter, age 8, went with her Dad, my significant other, to visit his parents in Idaho. I live in Oregon. I'm glad that she went. She went again a couple of more times.

Every once in awhile my daughter deals with anxiety over her daughter staying with me. She says it's not because she's concerned about her well being but because she misses her and also wanders if she's a poor parent when she doesn't miss her.

I suggest that, if your mother-in-law is alert and a warm caring person who your daughter loves being with that this is an opportunity for your own personal growth. I know it's very difficult to let go and it doesn't get any easier as our children get older. Why not start now in learning how to do that? This will also benefit your daughter. She will have a good time with her grandma and have new experiences which will add to her growth and ability to be adventurous. I believe it's always helpful to have new experiences and the sooner we start as children the easier it is to be excited about learning.

when my son was about 1 & 1/2 my parents helped a friend move from Forest Grove, Oregon to Yuma, Arizona. (My parents drove the moving truck for them.) Since my parents were my baby sitter and I was in school they took him along. They drove down with minimal stops, stayed in Arizona visiting relatives, popped over into Mexico a couple times and flew home. In all they were gone about two weeks. Yes I worried about him but I never questioned the ability of my parents to care for him so I knew he would be safe. 15 years later they still talk about the trip and Josh listens happily to the stories about all the things he did on the trip.

My six month old, about a month ago stayed over night with his grandparents (my in-laws) and was there all the next day also. I didn't really want to let him stay but I knew they would care for him at least as well as we do. It was hard for me but he loved the time with them as did they.

I think it is normal to worry. If you don't think she is fully capable to safely care for your children then say no, but if she can care for them and keep them safe it might be time to let them go.

It's really a hard choice and a personal one, if you decide to let them go keeping yourself "busy" will help distract you from missing them as much.

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