guilty mum : away too long?

Nov 29th, 2004, 11:12 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Too true, only she ASKED for our advice. Those of us with negative viewpoints about the whole plan shouldn't be criticized for giving the opinions she asked for.

You're right---only she knows the answer to those questions. This is a travel forum, for Pete's sake! Why is she asking those questions here? People who want restaurant tips should ask for restaurant tips--not mindless validation of something she has already planned to do.
kswl is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 11:44 AM
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..I spent most summers with my Grandmother..It all started when my mother was ill after having my younger sister...and I was 4 at the time. My grandmother taught me to knit, cook and tried to teach me to embroider (but failed miserably)...she even nursed me through chicken pox. As she had her own business when her children were little and had help, I think she enjoyed doing some of the things with me that she didn't do with her own children (though she never did learn how to change a diaper). I hope your children have as much fun with your their grandparents as I did with mine! I also agree with another poster that although you can do a family vacation with the kids in Europe it is a very different experience and I think your children might benifit more in a few years. My advice, decide what to do knowing yourself and your kids. If you decide to go, enjoy and dont feel guilty!
travelbunny is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 12:57 PM
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My parents used to take me along on domestic trips and left me home with my grandmother on their few international ones, one of which was 3-4 weeks. I did fine, but that's just me.

I'm currently hosting a relative with a 4 year old. To make an extremely long story short--their home life is a little more complicated and stressful, so the toddler acts out in front of her mother as a means of control. In her case, I wouldn't leave the kid at home. You sound like your home life is stable, though, so if your kids are well adjusted and aren't clingy, then they probably will have a good time at gramma's.
MelissaHI is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 03:13 PM
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I do not often, I hope, write in a hectoring tone but I find some of these posts truly repellent. Some of us posters are trying to help the OP find a win-win outcome, if one can be found. Others are preaching -- and passing off personal conviction as revealed truth. What lesson can anyone derive from the verbal ping-pong match of "I was scarred" - " No, go for it; it's your life" - "No you're a parent and should put them first"?

Only this:

Every family is different (pace Tolstoy); every child is different. I think the best solution to this problem is to TALK to the people involved: the grandparents who some (bizarrely) see as being horribly imposed upon; your spouse, who set the 4 week minimum; the kids themselves.

Situations evolve through discussion; new solutions present themselves. It sounds as though there is goodwill all around, so a little exploration of the issue cannot hurt.

Then you can afford to ignore the ideologues and the do-gooders, including yr. obed't serv't.........TG
tedgale is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 03:18 PM
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WOW! I am blown away by the response, and more so that you are all correct. Thankyou for being so honest.If I didn't want to hear it ,I wouldn't have asked.

I don't know where to start in my reply so it may be all over the place (like most of my posts anyway).

We travelled as a family when I was young.
From the age of 6 onwards, my parents took my sister and myself to Singapore and around Malaysia, then Papua New Guinea and for a trip down through the centre of Australia. I grew up on a tropical island in the north of Australia and have had a wonderful, loving upbringing.

We were sent down to our grandparents occassionally during school holidays, but I have no real recollection of missing my parents(obviously I did).But I do remember having fun with my grandparents.

I want to share this passion for travel with my children more than anything. My son in particular loves learning about different countries and languages and I think he would really enjoy the experience. On the down side, my children struggle to sit still, but with enough tricks and planning we could get around that.

Babysitter/nanny: we don't have one, won't be taking one, and have only ever left our kids with their grandparents.
(I was joking about taking one) They see quite a bit of both sets of grandparents as we all live relatively close, and they feel comfortable with them(though I do know they don't take the place of parents).

I have dreampt of this since 1988, but education, pregnancies and building up my husbands business has all taken precedence,(This is good ammunition for the stay home or take the kids argument because our children are the most important things in our life and they should come first).

We haven't been away from the kids for more than 3 days as we always take them wherever we go. Maybe because of this we need some parent time alone.

I think my main feeling of guilt comes from my selfishness.We have the time to travel but only the funds for the 2 of us(money is not the only determining factor).Yes we would have to borrow money for the whole family to go, maybe not an extra $20,000, but still a substantial amount. In reality, we should keep saving and wait a couple more years til we can take the kids, and when they will both remember it.

Every spare moment is spent reading about and thinking of europe, and each year it takes more and more of my attention. I know this is childish but I am scared that if I don't get this travel bug out of my system, I will retreat into my fantasy world and be even more unbearable to live with.

This was a very emotional topic and it obviously brought out a lot of emotions in some of you.As you can see, I have a lot of issues that I do really need to work out myself and with my husband,that nobody on here can really help me with.
But your advice and experiences, both positive and negative, have helped tremendously.

I will go and let all of this info sink in because my head is spinning.At least we have a bit of time on our side.
Ultimately, I know it is our decision, but I thank you for giving me differenet perspectives to think over.


kaz11 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 03:39 PM
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We've taken several trips to Europe with our (then) two small children younger in age than yours. Instead of the usual fast-paced (2 days in each city) intinerary, we booked an apartment in a single city for the entire two weeks and made it our "home". We daytripped several times and returned to our "home" each evening. Within 2 to 3 hours of cities such as Paris, Berne, Munich, Vienna and Rome, there are multitudes of potential daytrips.
I think ages 6 and 4 are perfect ages for world-class traveler training.
platzman is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 04:02 PM
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We left our children once when they were about the age of your children. We went to Europe for two weeks and the kids stayed with their grandparents. I was very surprised by how much the kids missed us. My youngest daughter went to sleep with a picture of us every night. I do not feel bad that we did this, it was a wonderful trip and the only vacation my husband and I took without our kids when they were young. However, I am glad we didn't leave for a longer time. I can't say anything about your family, but this is how mine responded. And oh yes, my youngest daughter, now 18, refers to that summer as the time we abandoned her. I think she's only partially kidding.
Nikki is online now  
Nov 29th, 2004, 05:06 PM
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Nikki--that daughter is not simply joking. Get her into counseling dear. Or better yet, first try to send her and one friend to Europe next summer and maye all will be forgiven! Or at least if she dares to bring it up again, you can remind her that you more than made up for it!
nellyanne is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 05:19 PM
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I really think many of you are being too judgemental about this - everyone has different circumstances in their lives which dictate decisions. With loving grandparents caring for them, I imagine the children would be just fine.

My 3 children spent 3 weeks every summer with their grandparents at their summer home at a lakeside community from the time the youngest was 4. They have the fondest memories of those summers (in fact, they still meet there every summer with their own children).
Then, as they got older, they spent 4 weeks at camp in North Carolina every summer also. They loved that so much the girls became camp counselors in high school and college. Of course I missed them, but as a single mom, this time to myself was wonderful! And I never felt guilty feeling that way. The time away from home was an enriching experience for my children - and was actually a win-win situation for all concerned. (Granted, their son was around some of that time to help out with his kids, too!).
Sue4 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 05:23 PM
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As an addendum to my post above - I won't leave my dogs for more than 2 weeks, but they don't have loving grandparents taking care of them!
Sue4 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 05:45 PM
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I am not a parent, so obviously I am speaking from a different position than many other people here, but I think that there are far worse things for children than a month without their parents, in the care of loving grandparents who likely are jumping at the chance to spoil their grandkids for a couple of weeks. I highly doubt they'll be in counseling years later, saying how mom and dad left them with grandma and grandpa for a month and they never got over it. I think the real issue here is the guilt the parents feel, and whether that guilt will override the joys of traveling. In many cultures children are in the care of various extended family members for periods of time, and most of them turn out fine, I suspect. On a personal note, seeing my parents, and the sacrifices they made to always be with us kids when we were young, which included never taking vacations without us, I sometimes feel bad that they never took some time for themselves. They certainly deserved it, but like you, they felt guilty for leaving us. We would have been fine. Go on your trip, and enjoy it. You'll miss them, and they'll miss you, but no one is going to be damaged by this.

Just my two cents...
Amanda23 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 06:16 PM
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kaz11, Hope you sort this thing out and do what's best for you and your family. Good luck.

nellyanne is the best troll to hit this forum in quite awhile.

talexander, however, is pretty clearly Mrs. X from the Nanny Diaries.
rockhopper7 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 07:49 PM
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How quick you are to pass judgement rockhopper7! The point of my post was to suggest that children do not suffer irreparable harm if they are left in the loving care of family (i.e. grandparents) while their parents take an annual vacation.

Yes, I have a nanny, (the same one for more than a decade, in fact) but our children have never been left overnight in her care. We are very fortunate to have two sets of grandparents that have loved being with their grandchildren.

Does this justify your characterization of me and my family circumstances as that of Mrs. X in the Nanny Diaries? I hardly think so. Like many on this forum, I am just a hard-working individual trying to balance family, a full-time career and a love of travel. If you have suggestions about travel to kaz11 or about her "dilema", then do so; otherwise, keep your inaccurate and hastily reached conclusions to yourself- this travel forum would be better for such restraint.
talexander is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 08:39 PM
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Nellyanne, hmmm, I wasn't aware that kids remembering things was the judge that they got anything out of it. Perhaps, if nothing matters if they don't remember it, we should forgo birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, and heck, why not just beat them, they won't remember it anyway? You see how silly that argument is.

To the original poster, yes, I think a month away is too long. I have no idea what that would be like for your kids, but I know as a mom I would be missing my kids too much to enjoy myself. Every time you see a child your child's age you will miss them. No way to spend a vacation.

We just took our kids to Italy for 2.5 weeks. They were 1.5 and 3.5. They did great! You can read our trip report at .
MonicaRichards is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 11:04 PM
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As a fellow Aussie who did much the same thing some years ago I would say "go for it" if that is really what you want to do.

We had the opportunity for basically an all expenses paid holiday to Europe when our children were 3, 5 and 7. We agonised for some time over whether to use our own money to take them on the holiday with us or use our money to get my best friend (the children's godmother) to take six weeks leave from work and pay her as a nanny. In the end we went with the second option.

Things we had to consider were that we knew none of our kids were the clingy type and were used to having a couple of nights without us. Some months before we left we also took a holiday within Australia leaving them behind for a week to see how they coped. They were fine.

I'm not sure if you are sending the children to your grandparent's house or they are coming to you. My friend stayed in our house and we organised the trip so that it was completely during term time. This meant that the kids went to school or kindergarten and did all their ususal activities to make the time seem to go faster. Each weekend someone turned up to take the kids on a "special" outing (and give my friend a well earned break). We then organised that we arrived home on the day the school holidays started so that I could be around them full-time for a couple of weeks.

I must say that after three weeks I was missing them a great deal and if wasn't for the fact that the rest of the holiday was already all prepaid for I very likely would have jumped on a plane to come home. However we were assured that despite us missing the kids, they were having a wonderful time. As it was we were glad we stayed because we went to some incredible places.

I know that many posters are saying take the kids with you and of course this is something to consider. Probably the main reason we didn't because we really wanted to do a holiday where there were a lot of countries, a lot of flights and constantly changing hotels (who knows how long it would be before we got a chance to go back again - as you say it is a long way and very expensive from Australia to Europe). It would be a nightmare to do such a trip with small children. If we had taken them it would have been go to say, three separate places only. The kids could not have cared less about the sights of London, Norway, St. Petersburg etc. but would only have been interested in does the hotel have a swimming pool or isn't there beach with sand to play on.

I can very distinctly remembering walking around London and watching other people with their small children who were crying, tired and fed up, asking why are we waiting in a queue for up to an hour. The people in front of us at queue for the Tower of London never did see it. Their toddler was so fractious they gave in and decided to go buy icecreams instead.

None of this of course implies that you can't have a good holiday overseas with small children, just that it might need to be a different sort of holiday to cater for their needs. If the kids aren't happy, you won't be happy either.

It is now some 10 years later, and in two weeks time we are heading off to Europe and other destinations for six weeks - this time with the kids now 13, 15 and 17. They are very excited about going, have helped choose the places we are going to and organising the trip. This is a trip they will always remember, whereas they would have barely had any memories of the trip we took when they were younger. We did take the kids to America when the youngest was then 7 and, yes, she can remember it but is fairly hazy about the finer points - even the stay at Disneyland.

In the end it all comes down to what is right for you and your family. You should have a preety good "gut" feeling about whether it will work or not. Take into consideration your own type of personality as well as the kids. Even if you think the kids can cope, can you? Are you the "worrier" type or to use a good Aussie expression, a "she'll be right mate" type. If you are the former you might need to give more consideration to having them with you.

Another alternative, as mentioned by some, is simply to wait a few years until you have more money and/or time and go with them. However there is a lot to be said for making the most of your opportunities whilst you have them as you never know what will happen in the future. The main reason why it has been 10 years between the two trips is Europe is that one of our son's became very ill and has spent much of the last 5 years or so in hospital. Fortunately his health has taken a dramatic turn for the better, hence the upcoming trip.

Hopefully I haven't bored you witless with this very long post but have given you some ideas to think about.
shandy is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 12:35 AM
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May I politely suggest that if children can't cope with being separated from their parents for a few weeks, as so many of you suggest, then perhaps something is amiss with the parenting in the first place. It is really quite ludicrous and the kids need hardening up pretty damn quickly.

Tallulah is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 01:21 AM
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Tallulah; they're 4 and 6. Hardening them up??
Tulips is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 01:31 AM
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Tulips: I wasn't referring to Kaz's kids per se, but sorry if I seem a bit harsh. I just don't like clingy children and am utterly flummoxed that so many people on here think that their or their kids world is going to come to an end because they're away for a few weeks. I'm afraid that the kids like that who I went to school with were the ones who got bullied... (not by me, I hasten to add!!)
Tallulah is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 02:05 AM
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Yes, but children don't need to learn about independence when they're that age. My kids are 6, 10 and 12, and my husband and I go away a few times a year, on short breaks. I would just not enjoy a holiday that meant not seeing my children for 4 weeks. I actually like to go on holiday with the entire family.
Tulips is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 02:34 AM
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Hardening them up? They're children, not marines. Really, Tallulah, this is one of those circumstances where the opinions of those who actually have had children carry more credibility.

kaz11, Four weeks away from my children at that young age would have been too long for me and for them. As others have said, you know your own children best. This trip clearly means a lot to you.
rockhopper7 is offline  

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