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Here is one more thing about traveling with toddlers, traveling without them. I realize some people never have to cross that bridge, but for those of us that do, here are some ideas, again gathered from The Sisterhood, for coping with the pain (read my pain) of having to leave them.
When our children were younger Bill and I traveled for work quite a bit, or really my husband did, and I would occasionally go visit him for 3 or 4 days. Usually, I would burst into tears the minute I got in the car and I’d arrive at the airport a soggy, snotty mess wondering what long term damage I was inflicting on our daughters by leaving. Okay, I was then also thrilled with the hours of kid-free time at the airport and even on the plane itself – but it was always a cocktail mixed with guilt and self-recrimination.
At that time, we had the most amazing preschool teacher, Carol, who helped us with “All Things Toddler.” She explained that kids don’t have a firm grasp on time. For instance, one day can fly by or seem like forever, so she gave us a great tool to handle the situation; the Mom and Dad Calendar. We would get a big piece of paper, decorate it with our daughters and mark out the days we would be away. We made stick drawings of our faces smiling out of the plane’s windows or waving goodbye and we would always have a photograph of the returning parent on the calendar’s last day. Then we’d tape it on the fridge and every night they’d mark off the day and actually see how much closer they were to seeing us.
Here are a few pictures of Mom and Dad calendars I saved (see above and below). As I side note, I am a saver-of-things-I-probably-shouldn’t-save. I can’t help myself and I always get the vision of our kids going through our stuff after we are dead, and saying to each other, “Can you believe Mom saved this! What was she thinking?” Bit of a macabre way to end this post, but maybe you can relate. Or maybe I just put something in your head you will never be able to get rid of. Sorry.
Do you have any tricks for when you have to travel away from your children? Send them on.