17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How long is too long?

Since Kage did her post about a getaway for her anniversary next year, I've been doing some pondering about our own getaway that we're planning for this fall. We're possibly going AWAY away, as in far far away, and my question is, how long is too long to go for?

No, I don't mean at which point will my husband and I kill each other. And I'm not even asking at what point our son (age 4) will miss us. What I'm asking is, at what point will it officially make me a Bad Parent to have been gone that long?

The little guy would be left in the care of family members who he knows well and who know him well, so I'm confident he'd be comfortable with it. He'll be in preschool three mornings a week, so that will keep his routine pretty set while we're gone. But when you're talking about going to the other side of the world, a week just doesn't do it. So, will going away for 3 weeks permanently light that big "BAD PARENT" neon sign that right now only flashes intermittently above my head? Because the rational mom and the guilty mom who live in my brain are fighting World War III over this one.

I suppose the question is this: how long have you left / would you leave your offspring? And (come on, let that judgmental part of you out!) at what point would you think someone was making a mistake to leave their children that long? Because the battle in my head isn't ending on its own, so apparently I need some MORE people to fight it with me!


  • I think with a child who is the age of your son, who will be with family, three weeks once every 4 years is ok.
    Now if it was 3 weeks home, 3 weeks away--that would be another story.

    Considering that you take your son on just about every trip you ever take, you have had very little time away from him since his birth- I think you are just catching up on some well deserved time off.

    Just be prepared for a serious re-adjustment when you get home, especially if you know the care givers are going to be more relaxed than you on certain things.

    I say have fun- you both need a break together!
    posted by Blogger normal mom at 5/29/2007 06:47:00 AM  

  • I second Normal Mom. As far as I'm concerned, a month with grandma (or uncle, or whoever) would be a treat! More than a month would be pushing it, but up to a month with a four-year old? No problem. IMHO. :)
    posted by Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve at 5/29/2007 07:23:00 AM  

  • If it's an every year thing I would say a week - maybe two. since this is an other side of the world, not every year thing I would say three weeks would be my limit, four is pushing it and anything over four and the neon light starts flashing when I hear about it. ...and i definitely echo the re-adjustment time concept. There, now I'll put my judgmental part away again :)
    posted by Blogger Lucy at 5/29/2007 07:45:00 AM  

  • ditto what everyone else said. three is fine for a four year to go to grandma's...

    We are going away for 2 weeks next August and my mom is already thinking that is to long for my boys (who will be 3 and 2 years old) But..I think like everyone else they'll be on a sort'of vacation too with grandma and grandpa.

    have a great time!!!!
    posted by Anonymous kara at 5/29/2007 07:55:00 AM  

  • I think a few weeks is OK. I'm reminded of a family friend who takes her grandson for entire summers. he's like 8 now, but I'm sure it started at 3 or 4. It always struck me as unusual in this time and place but very familiar from books I read as a kid about pioneers or other traditional american families. Maybe it's because they live on a a farm?

    anyway, I agree it can be a treat. Imagine you weren't going anywhere and had no babysitting need- would you think 2,3 or 4 weeks with grandma would be healthy and worthwhile on its own merits? if so, let the guilt go! it's for his own good ;)
    posted by Blogger cchrissyy at 5/29/2007 09:22:00 AM  

  • I think that 3 weeks is the limit. Luckily he knows his grandparents well, and school will help - it will probably be a very good thing for him, not just you. Maybe he'll appreciate you more when you come back :)

    We have been away from our kids numerous times: several 3 day 2 nighters, one 1 week and one 8 day. By the end of both the one week and 8 day I was HUNGRY for my children. I loved having my husband all to myself and didn't miss the day to day parenting...but I missed those little people like I miss a good friend. So even though you will be partying it up in India and loving your new adventures, just know that your heart will ache a little for your boy. And that's OK - it makes you both appreciate each other more. I agree with the other commenters that if this was a regular occurance to travel and leave him for weeks at a time, this wouldn't be a healthy thing. But you've never done this and never been away from him for very long.

    Go for it. You're a mom so you'll have the internal WW III battle regardless of how long you're gone. Live it up, soak in the sites and you'll be a better mom for it.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 5/29/2007 01:27:00 PM  

  • I don't think it's a big deal to leave him for 3 weeks. Heck, if Grandma is up for it, go for it.

    I feel bad leaving my kids with family (or anyone for that matter) for extended lengths of time because I don't want them to feel like I am taking advantage of them. or that I don't realize what a big deal it is to take care of someone else's child(ren) when that is not a normal part of your life. But that's my personal hang up and I am not sure how to get over (or if I should). So when I am finally convinced that the person is really okay with watching my kids, I still feel like I owe them big-time.

    So not to get off the subject, but where are you thinking of going that is halfway around the world?! I am already jealous.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/29/2007 02:33:00 PM  

  • Oh, now I see that chloe might have spilled the beans. India!?! Now I am really jealous. My most favorite place I have ever visited. Hopefully someday I will make it back.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/29/2007 02:35:00 PM  

  • Thank you everyone who has weighed in thus far. I didn't expect it to be so universally acceptable to people for me to be gone for that long. It does help me ignore the guilty mommy in my head a little more, so thank you! But I'm sure that guilty mommy would be happy to hear from anyone who feels otherwise about my departure plans.

    Yes, India is the proposed destination. Plans are not set yet, but DH has an old friend from college who is from India, and we would be meeting up with him which would be excellent. DH's younger sister and her husband are also going to be there, and they are awesome travelers, so it will be a real adventure if it happens. We'll see!

    TftCarrie, I know what you mean about asking people to watch your kids for an extended period - believe me, I don't consider this a small favor!

    And everyone who mentioned it - yes, I can only imagine that reintegration is going to be a !@*#&(#*$% to say the least. But hopefully the trip will be worth that pain!
    posted by Blogger marian at 5/29/2007 04:23:00 PM  

  • We have been leaving our 2 kids, ages 3 and 5 for 2 weeks every year, to go to Thailand for the past 3 years. Honestly I am the one that suffers most. I miss them more than they miss me. I say, send a few postcards and maybe a call or two, and you should be guilt free for at least 10 days of your trip!
    posted by Anonymous Abby at 5/29/2007 05:58:00 PM  

  • Wow, lots of opinions, did NOT read through them. Recently I was without my kids for almost 2 weeks. Their Dad flew them out to my mom's house, then they were alone without either parent (but a grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle and dog) for 10 days. Then I came and picked them up. The 5-year-old did brilliantly, the 2-year-old suffered. It took us about 2 weeks to get back into the groove...she had a few issues....so I think it depends on the age and WHO you are leaving them with. I felt totally comfortable with my parents.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/29/2007 06:42:00 PM  

  • I have similar issues because we go to Lake Powell 2 or 3 times a year and we have decided NOT to take our one year old. We just got back from a four day trip and we all three did great (son, me and hubby). I also left my son for 6 days when he was 10 months old. I missed him like crazy, but was SO excited to be a mom again when I returned. But in July I have girls camp and then a 7 day reunion in LP right after that and I am STRESSING out about leaving my little man. I guess that was a long way of saying I understand your mental WW III.
    My two cents: I think this is a very personal decision. If you are ok with it, you have a trustworthy sitter, and your son is going to be fine then do it! Go for it! Opportunities like this don't come along often. Have you ever left your son for an extended period before? It might be more difficult if you have never left him for more than two days - but I don't think that means you shouldn't do it. It just may be harder.
    Also, is the guilt coming from you or from what you think others are thinking. You shouldn't care what others think. No one knows what works and what is appropriate for your family like you do. Fun fun!
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 5/29/2007 09:17:00 PM  

  • I will comment wherever I have to to get you to come meet us in india...i have been giddy ever since I heard you might. Think of all the bangles, all the silk, all the colour! I know you deserve a wee trip and the little man will have lots of new cousins to keep him entertained as well.
    posted by Anonymous DH's Younger Sister at 5/30/2007 12:02:00 AM  

  • I don't think I would push 2 weeks with a 4 year old. I think because he's with people you're all comfortable with and in school, etc. that he may be ok for up to 2 weeks. I just worry that once you reach a certain time vacationing you'll feel your Mommy heart aching and wish you made your trip shorter. I personally don't think I could go past one week. Having said that, you are so consciencious that whatever you choose, you are a Good Mom!
    posted by Blogger Katie at 5/30/2007 06:52:00 AM  

  • I am so jealous that you are going on such a wonderful trip! I think it's good, too, to let your little guy know that it is a special trip for mom & dad, etc., so he can see how important your relationship is. As far as how long to be gone, I think it also depends on what exactly you are going to be doing while overseas. Do you need three weeks to get in all that travel? Could you do it in two weeks without feeling stressed? If I were going overseas I can't imagine spending less than two weeks there. There is so much to see and it could be a once in a lifetime trip. I agree with Melissa that it's a personal decision and no one knows your son, or the family that he will stay with better than you guys. I think you just have to make peace with the guilt. Sometimes mom-guilt just doesn't go away that easily.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 5/30/2007 01:09:00 PM  

  • Holy Crap! 3 Weeks? You're insane!

    (Just wanted to balance out the comments a little. And if it makes you feel any better I only have a 3 month old baby and therefore no experience in this area to reference any sort of advice. . . but it seems from all the comments above you should be good. :))
    posted by Blogger miggy at 5/30/2007 01:15:00 PM  

  • Thanks miggy. :-)

    I think as we work on an itinerary and make some decisions about what we want to do and see, it will help me to know what the right length of time is. I think the longest I've been away is 4 or 5 days, and while I'm sure I'll miss the little man, I'm not overly worried about that. I anticipate that the once-in-a-lifetime trip will keep me pretty much wowed enough to not notice the time slipping by.

    And "dh's younger sister" - it's not a matter of whether or not I want to go - I DEFINITELY want to! It's just a matter of how long I can go for and be at peace with that decision. Don't worry, I'm in!
    posted by Blogger marian at 5/30/2007 02:32:00 PM  

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