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Best way to prepare 3yo for Mum going on business trip?

(13 Posts)
ChangingWoman Mon 08-Oct-12 19:12:11

How have others prepared their young children when they're going to be away?

I'm going to be away overnight on a business trip next week for the first time since DD was born. I've done several shorter-haul trips in a single day and come back very late to avoid being away from her but the distance this time is too much.

DD is used to me working f/t and being at nursery or with our lovely ex-au pair who has known her since she was 6 months old (and is now studying in the same city). She minds DD for an hour or two in the evening until me or exH can collect her so DD is very used to being with her.

(ExH is working very long hours next week too and is grumpy and bad company when he's stressed. He doesn't really want to have DD with him while I'm away.)

I've therefore arranged for DD to sleep over at exAP's house. ExAP has bought a new Disney film and plans to make pop corn, plait DD's hair and draw a giant picture to take home. There is only one other housemate whom I have also known well for 3 years and am happy for her to be around DD.

DD normally sleeps in her own bed in my room (no other space in flat) and does still tend to wake briefly at least once in the night and then go back to sleep when she knows I'm there.

I think they will have fun and DD probably won't even notice I'm not there until she wakes up and wants Mummy. I'm worried that she'll have a bit of a meltdown in the night.

What should I tell her? I was thinking it's probably best to tell her a few days in advance and also focus on the nice present I'll bring back.


givemeaclue Tue 09-Oct-12 12:55:18

How many nights you going for? If it is just one you don't need to mention you are going away just tell her about the exciting and fun sleepover.

I find ringing up not good idea by the way it can upset when they were perfectly happy before the call!

CMOTDibbler Tue 09-Oct-12 13:08:18

I'd just tell her a couple of days ahead that you have to get on a plane to do boring work on xday, so she gets to have a lovely sleepover with exAP and won't that be fab. Really matter of fact, no 'mummy will really miss you', and I wouldn't phone.

And just a small present - otherwise you set yourself up for a big present every time ! My colleagues and I find kinder eggs to be a good present for a quick trip away

bigTillyMint Tue 09-Oct-12 13:09:32

Could you give her a small photo of you and maybe something small of yours that she could carry round if she felt the need?

ZuleikaD Tue 09-Oct-12 14:48:49

Just be matter of fact about it. Don't talk about a present as it's not in any way a replacement for you. Let her know exactly how it will all work - you will drop her off, she'll have supper, bath etc and go to bed at exAP's. When she wakes up in the morning she'll come home and you'll be there. Let her get it all organised in her head so she knows what sequence things will happen in. It'll give her reassurance that she has some measure of control.

If it was me I'd be more inclined to have the au pair over to sleep at your house so your DD doesn't have to cope with a night away as well as you being gone, but that's just me. DD (also 3) is being looked after overnight by GPs for the first time in a couple of weeks but it's easier because she'll be sleeping in her own bed and stuff.

ChangingWoman Wed 10-Oct-12 23:49:52

Thanks for all the replies. There's helpful advice here.

I originally planned to be away for one night but it's now two, so a bit more to think about. I've been worrying over the phone issue a bit, especially for two nights. I think I will leave it that they can text and ask me to phone in the evening if DD asks but otherwise, exAP won't bring it up and I won't call.

A kinder egg is probably the right size. I couldn't do a big present every time and it's true that a present doesn't replace Mum. A three year old is happy with anything wrapped in foil / paper...

I'm going to start talking to her this weekend about her "party nights" next week when she will get to watch a new DVD before bed and draw the giant picture at ex-AP's house. I will mention that I have to go somewhere and do boring work but will keep the emphasis on the fun she will have with exAP. (She understands that Mummies need to work and plays "Mummy is going to work now" with her toys.)

We did consider exAP staying at my flat but thought that might be more difficult as DD would be expecting me and looking for me all the time. I'm hoping she'll be more distracted at exAP's house and she is very familiar with it. She's never spent a night there but has napped there occasionally in the afternoon. We shall see - fingers crossed!

I don't really have any special objects to give DD and she isn't really attached to anything but people either so hoping that exAP cuddles (and Dada cuddles if exH has to be called in - he lives nearby in case of emergency) will be enough.

Thanks again. Will post and say how she gets on.

jamaisjedors Thu 11-Oct-12 00:17:04

Totally agree with Zuleika - I still think she would be better in her own home with all her stuff around her, especially for 2 nights.

I also agree that matter of fact is the way to go.

I travel a lot and don't tell the DS too far in advance.

I also wouldn't say I was going on a plane (they would want to come).

I agree with "don't phone", I find it upsets my two when DH is away. If she is asking for you then she can phone you (with AP).

ZuleikaD Thu 11-Oct-12 06:51:15

Yes, I think the two nights makes it considerably trickier. That's quite a long time for a 3yo to be away from everything familiar. I doubt she'd be looking for you but if she had her familiar environment she'd be more settled. A 3yo is old enough to understand 'three sleeps and then mummy's home'. Worth reconsidering the plan, I think.

confusedperson Tue 16-Oct-12 15:47:50

I am going away for business for 4 nights (in fact, leaving tonight) and I have told to my 4.5yo who kind of accepted the fact, but have not told my 2yo who is still too little to understand. They will continue going to school/nursery and their dad will take care of them. I am trying not to make big fuss about me going away, but I will definitely bring presents for them (but not telling this now). Just trying to sound casual!

notcitrus Tue 16-Oct-12 16:20:15

I had to leave ds age 3 with my parents overnight a couple times, and for two nights when I gave birth (couldn't leave hospital until around his bedtime on the second day).
He was fine, but did ask a few times where I/DP were and could cope with answers like "first you sleep here, then we have pancakes for breakfast, then we'll see the ducks, and then we'll take you back to mummy".

I think it works better when the adult knows where everything is - as long as the child knows where their bed and the toilet are, they'll probably be fine. I got my parents to call me to say how it was going, but after previous experience I didn't talk to ds as we both get upset.

Given your dd is familiar with A#P's house I'm sure it'll be great.

ChangingWoman Fri 19-Oct-12 11:46:57

I got back late last night.

DD was absolutely fine and had a lovely time, helped exAP to make dinner and clear up, put on her pyjamas and went straight to sleep at bedtime on both nights. The only tears were for two minutes when she didn't want to brush her teeth on the first night and exAP insisted that she had to (as I would have done and probably with the same result). She slept through both nights without waking so appears to sleep better when I'm not there to distract her! AP sent me email updates both mornings to let me know how DD had been.

DD was already asleep when I got back last night after midnight (exH had taken over supervision at that point so DD was asleep naked on the sofa in my living room without having had supper or brushing her teeth but that's a whole other post...) so I just carried her upstairs and put her to bed. She crept into my bed in the night and I gave her a little present this morning (small book and chocolate animal).

She did understand the amount we explained to her. (Mummy had to do lots of boring work for three whole days and would be back after 2 sleeps etc..) As one other pp, I chose not to mention the flight aspect as she probably would have wanted to come with me.

I'm totally shattered from the travel and conference but thankfully the DD aspect was much easier than I feared!

CMOTDibbler Fri 19-Oct-12 11:53:48

Good to hear that it went well. I'm off for 8 nights on Tuesday, and ds's only comment was to tell me 'ok mummy, we'll have fun while you are working'. It does get easier !

ChangingWoman Fri 19-Oct-12 12:01:17

CMOT - yes, that's the response you want to hear! (Although no fun whatsoever was had this week.)

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