Last Thursday, I flew to Arizona and spent the weekend getting to know 300 incredible women who live in my computer. SassyCon 2018 was amazing; I laughed, I cried, I danced, I did yoga, I learned things, and I made friends. If you happen to be a small business owner, a direct sales representative or a female entrepreneur of any kind, I highly recommend this convention and would love to see you there next year… but that is not what this post is about. See, what I noticed over and over during this weekend retreat was that SO MANY women struggled with terrible mom guilt over the idea of traveling without their children. Since this is one (very small) area of parenting that I don’t seem to struggle with mom guilt, I thought I would share a little bit about why I find it easy to travel without my kid in the hopes that it might help alleviate some of the mom guilt for someone else.
Know before you go
First and foremost, I KNOW before I ever leave for a trip that my daughter will be in good hands while I’m away. This time, she stayed with my own mom whom I know is quite capable of keeping a child alive for a couple of days because my sister and I both survived to adulthood. Next month, she will be spending time with her Daddy who I happen to see actively caring for her on a daily basis. And to be honest, if I didn’t trust his parenting skills, I wouldn’t have chosen to have a child with him in the first place. Basically, in either case I can assuage my own conscience with a reminder that while I may be hundreds of miles away, my daughter is being safely cared for by other people who love her and whom I trust. In fact, me stepping out of the picture and giving them a chance to bond with her can be nothing but good. It is healthy (and sometimes imperative) for children to have other adults in their life that they love and can turn to in times of crisis.
Don’t sweat the small stuff (and mom guilt LOVES the small stuff)
Mom guilt is like a Hydra so just cutting off one of the monster’s heads is hardly ever enough. Knowing that Maggie is physically safe isn’t always enough to keep me from worrying about the minutia of day-to-day life and keeping her routine. She may be eating (a metric crapload) more junk food and not going to bed on time without me there to dictate the rules, but she will eventually eat a meal and get some sleep. She may not brush her teeth as often as I would like or wear clothes that match, but I can guarantee that none of those things will matter in the long-run. Just because things aren’t being done exactly the way I would do them, is not a reason for me to stress. Staying up past bedtime and eating enough candy in a week to make Willy Wonka cry will not ruin her for life. Honestly, as long as she is alive and relatively healthy by the time I get back, it’s probably not anything that therapy can’t fix, right?
Not today, Satan
Physical issues of safety aside, mom guilt whispers lies like “they’re going to have abandonment issues” or “they are going to remember that you weren’t there.” As an adult, I can tell you that the time I spent at my grandparent’s house when I was growing up constitutes some of my best childhood memories. It was the childhood equivalent of a cruise or an all-inclusive resort. My grandparents had infinitely more fun and patience than my parents who had to deal with my butt every day. They let me watch more tv, play more video games, stay out a little later, eat more junk food, and generally let me have more fun because they were grandparents who wanted to spoil me instead of parents who had to raise me into a responsible citizen. If I had a basketball game or school assembly, my grandparents took me so I still felt loved and supported even if my parents missed that particular event. The thought of where my Mom was or what she was doing without me never even crossed my mind because I was happily enjoying the high life at Grandma’s house. So anytime those niggling little feelings of mom guilt start creeping in, I mentally exclaim “Not Today, Satan!”
Fill your cup
You can’t pour from an empty cup so if you are away from your kids, use it as a time to refill. Chances are, if you are away from them you are choosing to do that because it recharges you somehow. For example: a business trip might make you feel empowered, a training conference might ignite your passion to learn new things, or a vacation with your partner may strengthen the bond between you… but whatever it is, tell your mom guilt to suck it because you are busy refilling your cup so that you can be a better parent once you return to real life.
You can’t miss someone who never leaves
Finally, it is GOOD for both you and your kids to get away from each other sometimes. You’ve heard the old adage that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, right? Well, you definitely can’t miss someone who is with you 24/7. By stepping away from your kids, you will remember all of the things that gave these tiny humans such a special place in your heart to begin with. And while they might enjoy being absolutely spoiled rotten in your absence, they will be happy to see you again when you get back as well. Give yourselves a chance to miss each other and the hugs at the end of your trip will be SO worth it. I promise!
Mom guilt is no joke but I hope this makes traveling without your kids just a little bit easier. But don’t worry, if your next trip is a little more family-friendly, I also happen to think it’s really important to travel with your kids. Check out this post if you’re curious about why you shouldn’t leave them behind every time, even if you’ve got the mom guilt thing under control. Have you ever traveled without your kids? Let us know in the comments if you’re scared of this or have more tips on how to make it easier!