At the end of March, my husband and I traveled to Jamaica for a week for our good friends’ wedding. This was our first time ever really leaving our almost 2 year old son, for longer than a couple of nights. I originally intended to blog about my tips for how we prepared to do this, and what we did to make it easier on us and Calvin but things didn’t exactly go as planned. For that reason, I’m shifting the focus of this post.
I was beyond nervous to leave Calvin. It was a total of 9 nights and 8 full days away and I did everything I could to “prepare” so that it would be easier for the both of us. I talked to friends, read blog posts / forums, and watched videos on the subject for months in an effort to make myself feel better about leaving him. I’d say about 90% of what I read/watched said ‘Go on the trip! You and your husband deserve/need time away and baby will be fine’. I tried to convince myself that this would be true in our case as well.
My parents stayed at our house for the week and I meal prepped some easy options for them to feed Calvin, made sure he was stocked on all his favorite snacks, had enough milk, medicine, ect. I also filled his week with activities to help the time go by faster (after talking to my parents, obviously). We had music and art classes, a sleepover with his cousin, and a trip to a local indoor playground all planned for when we were gone. He also spent some extra time with my parents in the months leading up to the trip, sleepovers included, so that he could get use to the idea of being with them overnight. As an extra surprise, I rotated his toys and books in the living room and upstairs toy room, bought him a couple of new inexpensive toys from the thrift store and made him a DIY car garage out of a boot box right before we left. My thought process was that maybe having a few new exciting items to play with would take his mind off of us being gone.
In retrospect I think that these were all great ideas that in a perfect situation would have helped, but there’s no such thing as a perfect situation now is there? The first couple of days went alright. We left on a Friday evening and I’d say he did okay until about Monday. Then he started asking for us a lot and began to act a little withdrawn whenever we would video chat which we aimed to do twice a day. On Tuesday, my parents took him to a toddler music class that he loves and frequents regularly but this didn’t go well. According to my mom, he was banging on the windows and door and yelling “I want out”. They ended up leaving early. He’s never done this for me before. They tried an art class the next day with his two cousins and this went slightly better. He lasted through about half the class before they had to leave with him again. He ended up starting a cold that day so we chalked it up to him not feeling well. They were suppose to go back to the same music class Thursday but my mom ended up canceling. He became extremely clingy to my mom and fussy from being sick which made it hard on her. He wanted nothing to do with my dad and asked for us a lot. We continued to video chat with him and sometimes he seemed happy to see us, but as the trip went on he seemed to get more and more withdrawn and angry. This broke my heart. My dad also told me he thought he was really lonesome. We were home early Sunday morning and he had the biggest smile on his face. Once my parents left to go home he sat on my lap and breastfed to sleep which is something he hadn’t done in months. He was a bit irritable that day and didn’t let me out of his sight. By Monday he was much better, and by Tuesday almost back to his normal self.
I don’t regret going on this trip, however, at 21 months old I personally think that it was too long. I realize that everyone’s situation and experiences are different but for us it was hard. Maybe this is because he got sick, maybe it would have been bad regardless, we’ll never know, but I wouldn’t do 9 nights again. I think 5 would be where I would draw the line until he’s a little older and able to understand. I feel like I have a bit of an unpopular opinion when it comes to that because I know a lot of people who have no problem leaving their 2 year olds for that length of time. Although, like I said, perhaps they had much more positive experiences. I’m just trying to keep it real. For us, it wasn’t easy and it pulled so much on my mommy heartstrings. I wish we could have made it work to take him with us but then we would have lost that one on one time as a couple.
Speaking of one on one time, the trip wasn’t all bad. I am thankful that we decided to take some time together alone as a couple, which I do think is very important. Even though things weren’t great back at home, and it killed us to know he wasn’t doing well, we still got to reconnect in great weather and witness two of our best friends tie the knot.
Oh, and a special shout out to my husband who drove through the night while I mostly slept so that we could get back to Calvin 8 hours sooner (as opposed to sleeping and leaving the next day like normal people).