I can’t recall a time when we went for vacations without our two young children – after they came along.
In a few days’ time, this is going to be the first time my wife and I go for a vacation and leave the kids behind. Sort of like second honeymoon for us.
Blame it on the prize (a RM7000++ travel warrant) we won. We are sort of “forced” to go just the two of us – simply for two reasons.
First, the trip is too costly for kids as it is a packaged tour (the prize doesn’t include kids and the price is almost the same as adult’s). And secondly, the kids won’t be able to appreciate what they see in Japan.
On a more serious note, we feel J and K are ready to be left at home without us for a week. And I also want to take this opportunity to teach them to be independent and be comfortable to stay with someone else other than parents.
Don’t do it if your child is not ready. Wait until he is bigger.
Assuming your child is ready, it is not as simple as you think because there are jobs to be done before the trip to prepare him to really accept the fact that you go without him.
As you continue, I’ll share what my wife and I have done before the departure date.
Find a Babysitter
We are very fortunate to have my sister-in-law as the nanny while we are away. One thing important about babysitters is the kids must be comfortable with her and the nanny is a child lover.
Based on previous encounters with my sister-in-law, J and K are happy to be with her. I also let them choose from a few options of potential babysitters. Surprisingly, they chose my sister-in-law over their grandmother.
That is the reason why I always emphasize it is critical to visit and let the children mingle with friends and relatives on a regular basis. When the need for a babysitter arises, we can always get one among our acquaintances.
If you have problem finding a trustworthy babysitter, you can always get help from online babysitter service such as Care.com
Preparation: Before the Trip
Besides getting a babysitter the kids love, these are the things you need to do to “sell” the idea and get them prepared for a childless vacation.
- Test the idea. Before you go ahead and book a holiday package, share it with your kids the idea of going for a vacation without them. See how they react. They may not have positive response at the beginning. If those are not too strong of reasons, you can persuade them slowly to accept your idea. If they oppose to your idea like there’s no tomorrow, I guess you have to wait a while before toying with the idea again.
- Bribe. I know this might not go well with some of you. I am still not sure if we should do this. It is up to you to find out if this idea suits you. To compensate for the trip they are missing, we counter offered the kids an alternative trip to somewhere which was more child-friendly. In other words, “If you go to this trip, daddy and mommy can go to another trip without you guys.” J and K seemed to take this idea up pretty well. We chose Hong Kong as the “bait.” Another thing you can do is buy something back for them from the trip. Although they can give ideas what to buy but we don’t promise them we will definitely get for them. What we will do is to try our best to get them. I also tell them to be prepared if we don’t get what they want. This is to lower their expectations so that they won’t get disappointed if we don’t have what they want when we return.
- Be honest. We told them they won’t be enjoying the trip – if they tagged along – because they need to wake up very early in the morning and hurry here and there. All due to the fact that we have to stick to the tour’s time table. I don’t think packaged tours are suitable for kids simply because they just can’t keep up. They will tire out before the day ends. Unlike free and easy trips, parents can pace the trip around the children’s time and mood. In addition to that, I share with the kids that parents need to have their private time once in a while to do “adult” things together.
- Reassure your love. Kids are fragile and emotional. Comfort them by telling the kids you still love them as ever no matter what is going to happen. Even though you are going for a trip without them, that doesn’t mean you don’t love them anymore. Reassure your love to them and it is worth doing it regularly (even though you are not going away). I find this works wonderfully for me.
- Encourage them to experience new things. Share with them the benefits of being alone and what they will learn. I advise them to try things big kids do since they are no longer small babies. Such as staying with someone other than parents. I also tell them it is good to be without parents for a short period of time and learn how to be independent. K might not understand this but J seemed to take this suggestion to heart.
I am not sure how it will turn out on the day we leave for the trip. It might be a bit emotional initially but I am sure everything will be alright once the dust has settled.
Now if you will excuse me, I need to polish up my Japanese before I go to Japan.
konnichiwa, ohaiyo gozaimazu, domo arigato, gomen nasai, sayonara…