Be honest. Even if you didn’t say that out loud, you’ve thought it at least once! Yet, the primary “care-giver” really does have the need to leave home, leave town, and leave their child behind from time to time. Perhaps we need to leave our child behind (not in the sense that they’re taking off for good), but in the sense that something else besides our child is calling for our attention. Maybe it’s:
- Caring for a parent who needs help
- Helping another child move to college
- Attending a seminar
- You fill in your blank: _______________
A few simple things planned ahead can help you feel good about leaving:
- Plan a good and reliable schedule before you go of who does what, who has who, etc. so you can be attentive to your reason for leaving and so you’ll know all is accounted for at home!
- Take time (ahead of your leaving) to make one page per day for the time you’re gone to be given to the care-giver and your child each morning listing how the day will look for the caregiver as well as things for the child ~ maybe something to color, reading something you wrote, perhaps a sticker to put on something…do something different each day so they know you’re there in spirit.
- Plan Skype or Face Time every day with your child. Making it the same time each day is better, but for sure make it daily so you can see each other. Then talk about one thing different each day so you don’t get into a rut of “I miss you, mom, and I want you to come home.”
- Make a paper ring chain for the number of days you’ll be gone. Let your child remove one each day – getting to visualize the time until you return.
- Make a list of things to do or help do each day:
- Make bed
- Watch a cartoon
- Clean toys up
- Draw me a picture
- Your idea__________
- Have a few new toys, games, or coloring books, (watch for sales and inexpensive things before you leave and figure how long they’ll last before a new item must surface! Low cost is the key!!!) Let your helpers know when to take them out. In other words, “Helpers, this is to last you the week…not 3 days.”
- When you get home, plan for at least 3 days to de-compress. (The child and you!) Take time to have cuddling and sitting time on your lap more than usual if that is age appropriate or simply schedule the time to sit and watch TV together, play games, and not worry about your laundry and chores for the moment. It will wait for you.
- Start easing back into normal (I know, there is no normal, but as close to it as possible.)
The main thing you want for your child when you leave and return is that they:
- Can/will trust when you leave; you’ll return.
- Know you’re there by the fun things you’ve planned daily.
The main think you want for yourself when you leave and return is:
- Trusted helpers that will care for your child so you don’t have to worry.
- That your child will be kept busy and you know what is planned. Plus, your helpers will appreciate it, and you’ll get to hear about it, too!
- You’ll have “planned” your return so “re-entry” goes smoothly.
There might be some glitches, but they’ll be less of them when you plan ahead!