How Can I Leave My Baby??

Dear Mamas,

We have to leave our 4 year-old-son Teddy to go on a spouses-included business trip for my husband’s work. We will be gone for four days and I am worried about leaving him for so long. We’ve never done this and I don’t know how he will react. My husband feels the same way but thinks it’s really important that I go with him. Any suggestions?

Sherrie

Dear Sherrie,

We all dread the thought of having to leave our little ones for a few days even if it’s an escape to a sunny tropical island for some much-needed R&R with our (grown-up) sweetie. It’s a tough call to make but sometimes there’s just no way around it.

There are some things you can do to make it easier for everyone. First of all, the sitter should be an adult who has been time-tested as absolutely trustworthy by you. She should be someone Teddy likes and knows well. He’ll be more comfortable and secure in his own home where everything is familiar and he can stick to his daily routines. Make sure the sitter knows Teddy’s schedule for mealtimes, bath time, bedtime etc. and that she has a list and clear understanding of any allergies, medical conditions, medications or current fears he may be dealing with (like needing a nightlight or his bedroom door kept open when he sleeps).

Have her come over once or twice the week before you leave to spend a little time with him and see how your home operates. This gives you a chance to show her the ropes in a more casual and less stressed way and gives Teddy a real-time refresher on who’s going to be taking care of him.

Leave a list of good friends who know you guys and are willing to be on-call in case something unexpected comes up. You may want to set up a play date or two, again with a family you totally trust.

Another thing that can really help is to audiotape yourself reading one of his favorite books. Give the book and tape recorder to the sitter and explain that it’s there so you can read to your little guy in the afternoon or evening. My kids used to love this!

Then go off and have a fabulous, guilt-free time! When you check in, keep your tone light and cheerful and don’t talk too long. Make sure you don’t join him in a sad-miss-you-so-much conversation. Let him know you love him and miss him but also that you’re proud of how well he’s doing without you there.

Hopefully, he will see that he can be fine with other adults and that even though you have to leave sometimes, you always come back. Bring him a LITTLE treat or souvenir and ask him about all the things he did while you were gone. Take the time—then and there—to really listen to what he has to say and then spend some quality time doing something fun and relaxing.

And remember that time spent alone with your husband will strengthen your family and that’s always good for everyone.

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

One response to “How Can I Leave My Baby??”

  1. My In-Laws Are Guilt Tripping Us! Help!

    [...] more about this subject check out an earlier post that I wrote on this topic and also another about setting boundaries with your parents. Best of [...]

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