Traveling and leaving your kid at home can be very stressful on both parents, even if you’ve done it before. As rewarding and beautiful as it is to have a baby, it is also very challenging, and sometimes you both just need a break.Because let’s be honest: all relationships need sacrifice, effort and time, but where do you draw the line between your responsibility to your children, your responsibility to your partner, and your responsibility to yourself?
I’m not going to lie. The reality that my husband and I were going to leave Samy for a week started to haunt me as soon as we booked our travel tickets.
But I owe my strength to my beautiful supportive family and my caring husband, who kept on insisting that we needed to take that trip and that we deserved it, and that nothing bad was going to happen (oh and that glass of wine at 12 am on the plane haha)
The transition from being a couple to becoming a party of three is as tricky as it is fulfilling. How can you keep a relationship strong and exciting when your kid takes all your energy and time, day and night? That combination of feelings can sometimes be toxic to your romantic couple relationship. Every relationship goes through phases and rough patches, but it doesn’t mean you’ve fallen out of love. Sometimes you need that time with your partner, alone, to rediscover yourselves, and why you fell in love in the first place.
Maintaining that healthy exciting relationship post baby can be very challenging, but you have to recognize that the situation is hard on both partners, and you have to find time to reconnect, with no interruptions. I believe that we, as parents, need to overcome the guilt of taking some time to ourselves, because it is not selfish. By taking care of ourselves and our relationships with our partners, we are setting great examples for our kids. I want that love between me and my husband to reflect on my kid.
It is normal for parents to make their kid’s well being a priority, but it is dangerous to forget about your relationship with your husband just because you two are grown ups and you would think that you could take care of yourselves later. I am a true believer that setting the example of a happy and healthy marriage for our kids is the best gift they could receive and look forward to when they are older. I put my marriage first, because it makes me and my partner happy, and makes us better parents!
Before we travelled:
I made sure Samy’s environment wouldn’t change much and asked my mom and my sister to move in with him, so he doesn’t have to go through more changes while we’re away. I also kept his normal daily routines as similar as possible (going to the nursery every day, playing in the Building’s playground for one hour after nursery, bathing, eating, sleeping at the same time every day…) Comfort is vital especially at this young age – kids need their benchmarks.
While we were away:
I used to check in with my family every couple hours. We didn’t facetime with Samy because he usually gets agitated and starts to cry. However, on the third night, after my mom told me he had woken up every hour at night and was sleeping poorly, my husband and I decided to videocall him so that he knows we are still here and we didn’t abandon him, and shortly after that he started sleeping better at night. However, we would keep those calls short, because after the first few minutes of excitement, he would start feeling sad and melancholic. So it really depends on your kid’s readiness, and how much comfort they need while you’re away.
When we came back home:
Separation Anxiety among kids is extremely common between 6 months and 2 years old. However we were definitely not ready for Samy’s behavior when we returned home! He greeted us with hugs and shy smiles at the beginning, and soon after that he started acting all cranky and needy, and angry at us! Be prepared for your child’s behavior when you return. Young kids sometimes feel angry at their parents for leaving and act out or ignore them when they return.
If this kind of reaction happens, nurture your kid with reassurance that you would in any other situation. Try to hug them and reassure them and spend a lot of time playing with them, reminding them that you missed them and you are here for them, but don’t push it if your child is still mad. It will take a couple of days or a week for them to understand and process the idea that you are back – you are not leaving him again. I got really worried at first, but then I decided to just patiently understand that it’s a phase and he’s probably as confused as I am, and this phase shall soon pass.