I don’t know who needs to hear this but… LEAVE THOSE KIDS AT HOME! Parents, traveling without your child is totally okay! Yes, I know — you have anxiety about leaving your toddler for vacation.
But despite popular opinion, traveling without the baby, going on vacation without your toddler, and just plain traveling without your child is healthy for everyone involved. Not only does it give your kid time to bond with others [and learn a bit of independence without mommy and daddy there to do everything for them], but you deserve a reset too!
I’ll give you a real-life example. Our youngest kid, Bug, is my biological child but she was eagerly adopted by Phil’s parents as one of the grandkids as soon as we all met. They bonded immediately [and easily] but I was still nervous when Phil and I departed for our honeymoon. It was our first time leaving Bug behind with her [new] grandparents and one of the few times I’d been separated from her in general.
My mom guilt was palpable. “You’ve been married for 0.2 seconds and you’re already talking about traveling without your child?” The nerve! The audacity! The sheer gall! Just who did I think I was? But we all survived that trip — parents, kids, and grandparents alike. And we’ve survived the many trips after.
I totally get it. Sometimes it can be nerve-wracking to leave your precious kiddo in the care of someone else. Even if you know they’re in good hands. Even if you’ve done it a million times before.
Luckily, there are many easy ways you can help ease your anxiety about leaving your toddler, tween, or big kid for vacation.
Gift them with Surprises
Before our honeymoon, we bought one toy for each day we would be away from home — starting with the day we departed. We then put each one in a paper bag with instructions for her grandparents to give her one daily.
It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. We chose a miniature doll for the first gift and doll outfits for subsequent days. You could also choose matchbox cars, stuffed animals, keychains, sticker/activity books, or a variety of treats [balloons, bubbles, stickers, etc.]. The idea is just that they know you are still thinking and providing for them even though you are away. Tailor and personalize it to fit your kid’s likes.
Walmart and the dollar store have wonderful options but here are some of my favorite picks from Amazon:
Alternatively, if your kids are older, let them pick out a few items on Amazon and add it to a wishlist. Then tell them you will order one item to be delivered to their location if their caretakers give a good report on their behavior. This works wonders for older kids because what kid doesn’t like receiving mail? Plus, it is a surprise to find out if you ordered something from their wishlist [or ordered it all].
Drop-In With Alexa
No, Alexa is not a stranger I’m suggesting you invite into your home. Alexa is the artificial intelligence (AI) platform used for Amazon’s smart home devices. If I had to pick one thing that I think will make the biggest difference in feeling more comfortable traveling without your child, this would be it. It has definitely made the biggest difference for us.
Amazon’s smart home devices like the Amazon Show and the Amazon Spot, allow you to “drop-in” on certain rooms. You can do it from another device or from your phone when you’re not at home. The receiving room doesn’t have to do anything to receive the drop in either which is perfect for kids. They simply hear a chime notification letting them know Mommy and Daddy are waiting to see their precious faces [be sure to turn the volume down on the device if you don’t want them to hear the chime]. The kids can ask their device to connect with you as well! It’s all driven by voice commands so it is very easy to use.
And don’t worry about privacy. You can choose to display video, just have audio, or have both on your side. On the receiving end, the display is blurred for a set amount of time to allow them to “get decent” or simply decline the connection. The settings are fully customizable to fit your needs.
Facebook Portal has the equivalent of Instagram filters that let you put cool overlays in your video chat. It’s a simple feature but something kids will go nuts for.
But the main selling point of using Facebook Portal when you’re traveling without your child is the group chat! Yep, that’s right. You can invite up to 6 lucky folks to participate in a video call with you. Want to talk to all your kiddos at once without having them crowd over one device? Or is one of your kids away from home when you call? Not a problem because you can have many calls all in one.
One thing to note: everyone is required to have a Facebook/Facebook messenger account to use Facebook Portal. Many tweens and teenagers have this already so it is a great option for families with kids in that demographic.
If you’re considering creating a Facebook account for your kiddos to use Facebook Portal be sure to read our guide on Keeping Kids Safe On the Internet
Facetime & iMessage
When our youngest turned 6, we gifted her an Apple iPod. We mostly did it because her big sister [and big cousin] had their own iPhones and she felt left out. But when you’re traveling without your child, these things are clutch.
If your family is #TeamApple like mine [well, everyone except Phil and he wanted me to make sure I mentioned that he would never], you are able to utilize the iMessage feature to send and receive messages. You can also video [or audio] chat using Facetime.
Using this does require that you have an Apple account and an Apple device. So if you don’t have one of those [an iPhone, an iPad, a Macbook, etc.] then this is a no go. The iPod also requires a wi-fi connection but if they are at home, then it is no problem.
Next to Amazon’s Smart Home devices, this is my favorite option when traveling without your child. The ability to call you whenever they want puts them [and you] at ease. It also makes them feel like a big kid and that imbues them with a sense of responsibility.
Quit Them Cold Turkey
Oh, this one hurts to hear, but sometimes the best thing to do when traveling without your child is to just go cold turkey. No gifts, no video calls, no text messages, and minimal calls [where you talk to their caregivers instead of them directly]. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?
Parents, this has several benefits for you; the main one being that you get to completely unplug for a while. Party like it’s 1999, chill like you did before you had kids, and temporarily forget your parental responsibilities. Do everything you want and nothing you don’t so that you can come back completely recharged [and without a lick of the dreaded mom guilt for the mothers reading this].
This is also a great option for kids whose anxiety actually grows with reminders that you aren’t around. If your kid does better when you are out of sight, out of mind, then avoid making contact with them until you are done traveling without your child.
Do you have anxiety about leaving your toddler for vacation? Are you traveling without your child and have tips to share?