10 answers

Help Me Get - and Stay - Excited About Being Kid-free for a Few Days

One perk of being separated from my husband is that I never have to see my awful MIL again. Score! However, she is getting old, and I do think it is only right that my kids spend time with their grandmother while they still can. So husband and I were discussing the possibility of him taking the kids to the East Coast for a few days this summer by himself for a visit. It would probably be anywhere between three to five days.

On one hand, I'm pretty excited by the prospect of having the house to myself for that long. I'm just thinking of all the things I can do - clean without kids, work on some long put off projects, SLEEP, basically just relax.

But.

I've never been away from my 5-year-old for more than a night at a time (he's had a few sleepovers) and definitely never more than 24 hours. I've never spent more than a few hours away from the baby, mostly during the day when her father has her on weekends. She will be 26 months at the time of this proposed trip.

This is the first trip they will have taken without me, and it will be to visit an extremely critical and judgmental grandmother. I worry how their father is going to be able to handle everything. I fear that he won't stand up to his mom on their behalf. I worry what impact my absence will have on my kids' behavior. My son especially tends to act out around his dad, because my husband is so inconsistent in his discipline, which will further subject both of them to my MIL's criticism. But mostly, I know I'm going to miss my kids and that they are going to miss me. They are both so attached to me right now. When we brought up the vague possibility of this trip to my son several weeks ago, he was horrified at the idea that he wouldn't see me for that long. We haven't mentioned it to him again, but his reaction just brought up all this guilt and worry in me.

I know this could be such a great thing for all of us - for me, to have some much-needed me time; for my kids and their dad to have some bonding time - but I think I need to be talked into it. My friends are no help. They are all so enthusiastically "It's going to be great! Why are you worried?" that I don't feel like anyone is really hearing my concerns. I'd love to hear some gentle encouragement especially from others who have been in a similar situation. Alternatively, if you feel this is a terrible idea, I'd like to hear that (but also gently) too.

Thanks.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks, everyone. I think we are going to cancel this trip, not necessarily because of any qualms I have but because my MIL has made it manifestly clear that she doesn't care to see her grandchildren. So why should I put my kids through all that trouble? I'll probably just have their father take them on a short camping trip to give me a break. At least they'll be closer to home and not with their awful grandmother.

Featured Answers

My MIL is the same way - not overly caring and not energetic enough for my kids. She asked for my daughter for the summer when she was 6. I didn't mean to, but when my husband asked my daughter prior to asking me I laughed out loud. Really?!? She wanted MY PRINCESS for a whole summer? I'm not even okay with a week - let alone a whole summer. Please. She hasn't asked again. And even though she will be 9 this summer, the answer would STILL be no.

My kids don't need negative influences around them when I can't be there to set those people straight. And my husband doesn't stand up to his mom...so that'd be a big fat no for me.

While I think weekends alone are a great idea and sometimes I wish I had them too - I don't think that's the ideal situation. Can his mom fly to you guys and spend the time closer to you? So if the kids need you you're there?

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My oldest was 22 months when we got married and spent a whole week with my MIL. He was fine, we were fine, it was good for everyone.
Try not to look at it as "I'll be away from my babies" but rather "I'm teaching them to be away from me, and to feel safe wherever that is, I am teaching them to bond with other family members and how to form their own relationship with their father, with all of it's benefits and foibles."

And while they are gone, keep busy, don't allow yourself to wallow in misery because you miss them. It's your opportunity to be ok without them, too.

2 moms found this helpful

this could be really positive for your 5 year old. although not with the ideal people, he really shouldn't be freaking out at the thought of being away from you for a couple days...this will be good for him.

yes, i'd have a harder time with the little one...it will be a real test for your husband to deal with them, and hopefully bring them all closer together. it will be a time for your husband to sink or swim, and i'm betting he'll figure it out when he "has" to.

in the meantime, since it sounds like you are separated, doesn't dad get visitation on weekends? time to cut the cord a bit and use that time to "practice". good luck! by then it won't be as alien of a concept. make some plans to do something fun (or even a girls weekend away maybe?) and that will help. stay busy!

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe your five year old has had bad times with his grandparents before and is expressing his concern by saying he doesn't want to be away from you.
I sent my 6 year old by plane alone to see my parents. She adored them and came home after two weeks very excited and full of stories about all the places they went and the people they saw.
You have described a situation I would never have placed my children in until they were older like 12 years of age. I would be very hesitant to place a 26 month old in such a tense situation with no one to defend her.

Updated

1 mom found this helpful

At the time when my kids were little my girl friends and I would plan and work our visitation schedules so all the ex-husbands had the kids on the same weekends. We all met post divorce so the exes didn't know each other. So we had some fun girl time. We could go out dancing and then to breakfast and sleep in all weekend. We could arrange shopping trips or a weekend away and the exes were none the wiser.

You will be child free for a few days plan a get away for you and a girlfriend or just plan some not so kid friendly activities just for you. Young children would not enjoy and leisurely stroll through a museum or art gallery, you could go with a friend and then go out to lunch and just relax. Remember lunching with a friend in your pre-child days when you could talk and laugh and not have to wipe up spills, constant runs to the restroom, fielding questions (Mommy why does that man look so funny?). Window shopping without a child pulling you along to go look at bugs and dog doo doo.

The kids will be fine, even the most overbearing MIL can be a doting grandma. My daughter will tell her son just 3 night-nights and you will come home. Just keep your cell phone battery charged so he can call you. And don't worry about the ex; he needs to learn how to be a single dad, if he is across the country he will either sink or swim. If he starts to sink he will learn to swim.

Start making a list of all the things you want to pack for the kids and as you start to pack them check them off the list. Keep small things like binkys, tooth brushes, tooth paste, ect in ziploc bags. I would get small sample bottles or use travel bottles of the same shampoo and bath soap they currently use. You don't want them breaking out in a rash in case grandma buys brand x baby shampoo and you use brand w. Explain to hubby that the change in the water and maybe laundry detergent and fabric softner, if she uses it, will be enough change for children so young. If you have a LO that loves his glo-worm or a certain CD or DVD or night light, or blanket send it along. The kids will be with family but there will be so many differences that as adults we don't notice as much. Traffic noises, maybe a thunder storm, crickets chriping, ect will all be different and enough to keep them awake or scare them. The more familiar comfort things they have with them the easier they will settle in.

Don't worry they and you will survive and even have fun.

1 mom found this helpful

You are separated and will likely divorce, so there will be a lot of time in the future that you won't have the kids. I always say that if there is something "good" about being divorced, its getting a break from the kids every other weekend. =) You will get used to the kids being with their dad and so will they, its part of the process. Good luck.

I like Rev Ruby's advice very much... I started a visitation schedule with my son's dad and 3 of my divorced friends also have the same weekend as me. I started out hating it and now I love it. Mama needs a break. It was hard for my son at first and made me wonder is this going to work? But, my son learned that he will see me the next day and he is fine while he's there. (he's 6).

You are very validated to be worried, but I I think that deep down you must know that dad will figure it out or you wouldn't be considering it at all. One thing I had to tell myself is that just b/c my son's dad doesn't do everything exactly the way I would doesn't mean it's wrong. He does know my non negotiable items, mostly things that would affect my son's well being: car seat, no smoking around him, nutritional needs, sun block, etc. which he respects.

I also love Rev. Ruby's ideas about being sure to send comfort items along. If this trip is not until summer you have time to prep your older one and plan out exactly what to send. Good luck!!! :-)

I wouldn't let them go at that age. Maybe it's my natural over-protectiveness but your story makes my nethers clench in fear and worry. If it were me, I'd ask to go too, but, so as not to be an imposition on the MIL, I'd stay in a hotel room nearby. So if they need you, you are there to help. To be honest I don't know why you're sending the 26 month old anyhow. The older child is communicative and will be responsive to the trip. To the younger, it will just be a massive disruption and she should stay home with you, should you choose not to follow your children.

My MIL can be critical and judgmental, even to her grandchildren, so I hear your concerns. Can grandma travel to them and stay with your husband instead? They still get to see grandma, but they can take breaks and don't have to travel, be away for so long, etc. I know it can be difficult for older women to travel alone, but the airlines can be very helpful if you contact them in advance. They have a program similar to how they handle "unattended minors" or whatever they call it when children fly alone. We've done it with my grandma. The person who accompanies the older person to the airport can get a special pass to go through security and go to the gate with them.

Updated

My MIL can be critical and judgmental, even to her grandchildren, so I hear your concerns. Can grandma travel to them and stay with your husband instead? They still get to see grandma, but they can take breaks and don't have to travel, be away for so long, etc. I know it can be difficult for older women to travel alone, but the airlines can be very helpful if you contact them in advance. They have a program similar to how they handle "unattended minors" or whatever they call it when children fly alone. We've done it with my grandma. The person who accompanies the older person to the airport can get a special pass to go through security and go to the gate with them.

Updated

My MIL can be critical and judgmental, even to her grandchildren, so I hear your concerns. Can grandma travel to them and stay with your husband instead? They still get to see grandma, but they can take breaks and don't have to travel, be away for so long, etc. I know it can be difficult for older women to travel alone, but the airlines can be very helpful if you contact them in advance. They have a program similar to how they handle "unattended minors" or whatever they call it when children fly alone. We've done it with my grandma. The person who accompanies the older person to the airport can get a special pass to go through security and go to the gate with them.

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