The 7 Stages of Going Away Without Your Kids

Admittedly, I spend a significant amount of time wishing for a vacation sans kiddos. I often dream about my husband and me – or, honestly, just me – sitting on a beach, reading a book, listening to nothing but the waves. I fancy a dinner at a nice restaurant without iPads, grilled cheese sandwiches and spilled chocolate milk.

In the past year, I have actually taken two such trips; one with my best friends and one with my husband. I have found that there are several distinct stages a parent goes through when leaving the children behind:

Stage 1: The excitement

This trip cannot come soon enough! Alone time! Sleep! Sleeping in! Naps! More sleep! I get to do whatever I want to do for however long I want to do it. Oh, I can just picture it now: Me, alone, asleep. Me, alone, wine. Me, alone, a book. Me, alone. ALONE!

Stage 2: The packing

Finally, I can wear this nice dress and this fancy jewelry and these high heels because I won’t have a child throwing up on me/pulling at my earrings/in my arms. I can bring nail polish because I’ll be able to paint my nails without having a 4-year-old begging me to paint his toes, too (though, I do have fun doing that … STOP! No sadness, just pack). Don’t forget the ibuprofen. You will HATE yourself if you forget the ibuprofen.

Stage 3: The goodbyes

Make it quick. Really quick. Just a kiss on the forehead and run. Get out of the house and don’t look back. Get in the car and turn on a happy song and – oh, shit. Here come the tears. I can’t do it. I can’t leave them. What if something happens to them? What if something happens to me? Great, now I’m ugly crying in the terminal. What if that kiss goodbye is the last time I kiss them? Can I get a refund on my plane ticket? Snotty nose, red eyes. I don’t want to go. I don’t need alone time. I need to be with my kids! What was I thinking?

Stage 4: The arrival

Kids? What kids? I see a big, empty bed with my name on it. I see a lounge chair on the balcony just begging for my ass to be in it. I see a bottle of wine that says, “Come drink me with zero interruptions.” This was SUCH a good decision.

Stage 5: The vacation


Stage 6: The last day

I have to get my son a teddy bear and I have to get my daughter a snow globe. I will hike all over this damn city until I find the perfect souvenirs. I can just picture their little smiling faces when I hand them their presents. I can’t believe I didn’t realize how much I miss them. I want to be home now. Right now. No, I don’t want to squeeze in one more meal before we have to leave. Let’s just leave.

Stage 6: The homecoming

My babies! Oh, my sweet angels! I missed you so much! Yes, all the hugs and all the cuddles. Sure, you can sleep in our bed tonight. Yes, I’ll carry you all over the grocery store. Of course, you can eat dinner in my lap. Let’s be inseparable for the rest of our lives!

Stage 7: The next day

When can we go away again?

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4 Comments on The 7 Stages of Going Away Without Your Kids

  1. Svetlana
    August 28, 2015 at 4:44 pm (5 years ago)

    Kate that was awesome. I have never been away from my girls for more than 2 hours when Alex and I went to dinner. Twice. Yep. Twice in 6 years. I totally long for that bed and wine and book. Once I was supposed to go to Russia when my older was 2. I changed my mind a week prior departure lol!!!!! One day I will get over that hump and learn how to enjoy myself…with no kids. Great read. Thanks!!

  2. Sally
    September 6, 2015 at 2:33 am (5 years ago)

    You nailed it!! Every emotion along the way. My advice to people with young young kids is the kids will never remember you were gone. They also will not give you guilt of “how could you leave me” if they can’t talk. Once the kids are older you only get a “hi” when you walk in the door. That’s not how you pictured it on the plane coming home but your still happy to be home.

  3. MH
    September 8, 2015 at 4:40 am (5 years ago)

    Great post and very accurate. I travel frequently for work so I’m used to leaving the kids behind a few times a month, but it still doesn’t make it easier. Last year I went to Disneyland on one of my biz trips and felt really guilty – the kids still don’t know. When my oldest was 10 months my husband and I went to Hawaii for 10 days and left her with my mom. Now I only dream about trips like that!

    • kate
      September 10, 2015 at 2:12 pm (5 years ago)

      I think feeling guilty is just part of parenting. If it isn’t guilt that we are taking a trip, it’s guilt that we are probably screwing up the kids. Right?


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