guilty mum : away too long?

Nov 29th, 2004, 03:04 AM
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guilty mum : away too long?

I am going to europe next year with my husband, finally after years of waiting, and this is my dilema.We have two young children, 6 and 4, and faced with the option of just the two of us travelling next year, or waiting 3 or more years to take the whole family, I decided to leave the kids with the grandparents.

I have been obsessing over everything europe, but every day I feel guilt over not taking the kids.Now that the trip is getting closer, I feel 4 weeks is way too long to be away from my kids, and for them to be away from us,(maybe we could borrow another $20,000 and take a babysitter).

In my heart I want to travel so badly, but my head is saying wait a couple of years. Has anyone left their young children at home whilst they travelled, and if so, for what length of time?

kaz11 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 03:22 AM
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I just did this for 6 weeks this spring while I went to France for a study abroad program. My mother was at the helm here at home, and she is the next best thing anytime! We had many phone conversations during our time apart and lots of emails as well.

Granted, my kids are older, 11 and 15, but yours being younger, they will probably not remember much about it as time goes on. Four weeks is not that long in the larger scope of things.

All parents need time alone, away from the children. I vote for you to go and stop feeling guilty. Bon courage and bon voyage!
crepes_a_go_go is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 03:43 AM
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As a child I was packed off to my parents families in Ireland most summers - my sisters and I would stay with various relatives for around 5 weeks and my parents would come over for the 6th week. I can honestly say that I thought of it as nothing more than an adventure and my mother would get rather upset that I hadn't missed her more!

Personally I think that you'll get FAR more out of the trip, particularly if it's your first time, without kids around you.

Just tell your kids that it's perfectly normal, and act normally, and they won't know any difference; they're really too young to 'know better', as it were.
Tallulah is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 03:44 AM
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I think you mis-state your options. One can take two young kids to Europe without a babysitter and for way less than $20,000. Perhass you were jesting when you wrote that option.

We did it both ways - took them sometimes and left them on other long trips.

It really depends on your kids and the grandparents. You are the best judge of them. Just make sure the grandparents are willing and able to take on the task.

Ours loved to have the kids and they spoiled them rotten in a very good way. It was also great way to bond with grandparents and all the cousins. They still have fond memories of those summer vacations with relatives.

Get a phone card and call everyday.
degas is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 03:45 AM
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Go, of course. They will not be neglected, though they may miss you. But there are all sorts of ways of drawing them into your excitement -- preparing a route map so they can follow where you are; e-mail and telephone calls at specified points along the way; sharing the planning with them; etc.

If you are this torn you are probably a very loving and responsible parent and your children, well grounded in that, will bounce right back after your return. Assuming they notice your absence -- with all the treats and attention from Grandmama and Grandpapa.

One final note: I'd find 4 weeks a VERY long time to be on the road -- 2.5 is about my max. (Each person's tolerance for travel is different, I'm sure)

So if you remain really torn, how about going for a shorter stint?
tedgale is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 04:13 AM
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I agree with tedgale, shorten the time away. I start to get really homesick after a couple weeks. Consequently, I take a lot of short trips.
SusieQQ is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 04:22 AM
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Well, since you asked--I think the trip is too long. Four weeks is an eternity in a young child's life.

Having said that, I too was "packed up" as Tallulah was, only I was sent to camp for 8 weeks in summer and to boarding school during the school year. Although I knew my parents loved me, the distinct impression was that I was in the way at home. They traveled quite a lot, too. Obviously, that is not your situation at all. But it doesn't sound as though you have ever left the kids before--so why such a long time?

Our children have all enjoyed summer camps for four to eight weeks, but that was not their usual school year routine--it was separate and apart. Perhaps the next time you travel you could do it in the summer when it wouldn't disrupt the normalcy of school life. Must tell you, though, that 10 days into his month-long camp my then 12-year-old had a nasty break of his arm that required an operation and grafts. I had to cancel a mini-break with DH in order to drive up to N.C., collect him and bring him back. Subsequent rehab of his arm has kept him out of school this year and we're homeschooling--hence our long trips everywhere.
kswl is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 04:23 AM
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Thankyou everyone for your replies. I was honestly expecting negative remarks, and was quite touched by your positive advice.

The kids always enjoy going to both sets of grandparents, and we do need some time together away from the kids, so I can go to sleep now feeling a little more at ease.

degas: the Aussie dollar isn't quite what I'd like it to be against the pound or euro, so the $20,000 probably isn't too far off the mark.I wish I was jesting.

As to the length of time travelling, I love being away from home and don't get homesick. It's escapism for me, though I've not done it without the kids for that long, so I don't know how I'll go.

I'll just make sure I've got insurance incase I cut the trip short.
kaz11 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 04:29 AM
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I didn't notice any "guilt feelings" about parking the kids with the grandparents..perhaps you'd care to elaborate on that aspect of things.

And why did you arbitrarily decide that it would be more appropriate to travel with the children in "three years" as opposed to one year, or five years, or six years, etc.?

I think the help you really may need will not come from a travel board.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 04:30 AM
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I have kids, 2 and 4, that we leave with grandparents when we travel to Europe. We're usually gone for 11-12 days and that's long enough for us. One thing I do when we're traveling is make mental notes of what the kids may enjoy when they start coming with us in 2006. We're hoping that if we take them to someplace we've already been and are familiar with, it will be more about enjoying a fun family vacation and exposing the kids to a new culture than dragging them along on our tightly-scheduled itinerary.
Jocelyn_P is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 04:34 AM
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We left our 18-month old daughter and three-year old brother in the care of their grandparents while we went to Belgium and France years ago. Our daughter didn't recognize us when we got back after two weeks. Thank goodness we didn't go away for longer! However, your children are older and that won't happen to you.

Fast forward several years, and we've gone on two trips and left our now 15- and 17-year olds with their grandparents. It's been great for everyone concerned. However, we've never been away for more than two weeks. Anything over that, we ALL start missing each other.

If you're feeling really guilty, why don't you think about halving the length of your trip and bringing your children with you? I bet it works out to the same price: two weeks with, or four weeks without kids.
Nov 29th, 2004, 04:37 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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Why would you need a baby-sitter ? Surely 2 parents could look after 2 children without much difficulty. I have found that the most valuable thing you can give your children is attention. Grandparents are wonderful, but they're not their parents. For goodness sake you're feeling guilty about leaving them behind, which makes me think you've answered your own question.
SidB is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 04:51 AM
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kswl: 4 weeks because my husband finally agreed to take me and would not go for any less time because of the expensive and lengthy flight over(24hrs).

Intrepid1: I feel guilty knowing that my parents and husband's parents will each have to put their lives on temporary hold for 2 weeks, and although I'm sure they will enjoy many aspects of having the kids, it is a big ask to look after them 24 hrs a day.
Cost, schooling and the probability of moving house made me choose the 3 years, but people win lotto and circumstances change every day. I would travel overseas every year with my kids if I could.

I am also panicking about the thought of anything happening to either them or us, but these are issues that I need to sort out elsewhere.

Intrepid1, did you mean monetary help or a shrink? because I think I need both!
kaz11 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 05:04 AM
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Jocelyn P: you took the words out of my mouth. That is how I feel but couldn't find the right words for.

dln and SidB, you also have valid points, and when I take that point of view, I think it's only money, just borrow some more and spend a wonderful family holiday together. We may have to sacrifice a few nightime activities, but we're in europe together and we're happy

I'll ask santa for a decision for christmas
kaz11 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 05:26 AM
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Sorry, but that:
" 4 weeks because my husband finally agreed to take me and would not go for any less time because of the expensive and lengthy flight over(24hrs)."

doesn't make any sense to me. Our travel decisions are made together; I do not get "taken" on trips. I know it is more expensive when flying from Australia, but a 4 week trip will obviously be MUCH more expensive than a two week one!
kswl is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 05:30 AM
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>>>>>>just borrow some more<<<<<<

Kaz11, I'm starting to think you need not only a shrink but an accountant as well.

There are some questions for which you can find answers on a travel discussion forum, and there are some questions for which you cannot find answers (or at least reliable answers) in what another Fodorite recently called Fluffland.

I wish you all the best, and I hope you resolve all these questions to your satisfaction, but I think your husband's and your going into debt to undertake this trip (if I've understood you correctly) is a greater risk than leaving your kids with their grandparents for 4 weeks.

But then even my advice is worth what you've paid for it, which is to say nothing.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 05:30 AM
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kaz; I think that only you can anwers this question. You know your kids, and their grandparents, best. For me, I would not want to be away for that amount of time. Two weeks max. I would miss them too much, and though my mother is great, it would be too much stress for her, and for my husband's parents too. They love to have the kids for a weekend, but any longer is too difficult.

If you go for 4 weeks, I would take the kids. It's long enough that you can see a lot, but still take enough time for rest and relaxation too. If you want to go out with your husband in the evenings, the hotel can always arrange babysitting.
Tulips is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 05:40 AM
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We have traveled without our 3 children, but the longest time was 9 days, and after about 6 days I miss them terribly, so I'm not having as much fun. This was also when they were older than 6 and 4.

It depends on your children and how they will handle it. It also depends on how you handle it.

My suggestion would be to take a 4- or 5-day trip away from the kids soon, and this will let you know how you can handle being away from them for so long. If you start to miss them terribly after 4 or 5 days, then maybe a 4-week trip without them would be too long of a time and a waste of your money. You don't want to find this out when you're in the middle of the vacation.
Samsaf is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 06:02 AM
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Everyone is still simply assuming that the kids will be fine---that the concern is whether or not Mum will hold up without the family. If you've never left the children before, perhaps you should try 4 or 5 days to see how THEY react--not you.

(But, same disclaimer--my advice is worth the same dollar amount--zero!!!)
kswl is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 06:15 AM
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I think four weeks can be a long time for young children to be away from their mother, especially if not used to it. It sounds like they would be fine at the grandparents for a while, so I would suggest some compromise of perhaps 3 weeks. I know that is a long trip and I can understand balancing the travel time and airfare expense for the trip. However, you do have young children to consider and there doesnt seem to be a lot of compromising going on in your family. Your husband doesnt seem to care and wants what he wants and when others mentioned that four weeks can be a long time away from home, you only said you personally dont mind it and dont get homesick. An extra week of travel expenses will be something you could save for later and I still think 3 weeks is a good amt of vacation time even with a 24 hr flight. If your husband wont do it because of the airfare expense for less than four weeks, he certainly wont pay the extra to take the children plus babysitter, which seems like a poor option to me. Perhaps it was joke.
Christina is offline  

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