Some of you know that we had to travel again to Seattle last week. We were going to be there for just 48 hours and it didn’t make sense to take Varun along for such a short time. Our previous US trip was barely a month earlier and I didn’t want to subject Varun to long travel and jet lag again.
But our work was something that we couldn’t reschedule and it had to be done. So, here we were faced with a big dilemma of leaving Varun with his grandparents while we travelled. While he is used to me being away during the day, he has never spent an evening without me. On evenings when I have to come late from work, he gives Vipul a hard time. With travel we would be gone for 4 days and 5 nights. A real long time for someone who has never left him overnight. Ever.
We asked Vipul’s parents to come and stay in Hyderabad. That way he could go to his school and daycare during the day and they only had to manage him in the evenings. I told his teachers to be extra attentive as I wasn’t sure how he would react to this.I was very worried that he may be distressed while we are gone and act out in school.
I recalled reading on Babycenter or on Ask Moxie to talk to the child before hand about any bigger change and so about a week in advance I started telling him about my trip to US. And every time I started telling him about the trip, he would cry, give me a hug and say “Please take me along as well…Varun la gheun jaa na”
This broke my heart but I didn’t really have an option.
So, I made him a book – a custom book that talked about when and where we are going, when we will be back and how much fun he will have with grandparents.
We focused on the fun and when we will be back. I wanted to print out this photo book at a studio like a photo album but didn’t have time.I simply printed it out and stapled it together.
As a story with photos, Varun was hooked. We read the book at least a couple of dozen times before we left. He didn’t resist our travelling as much. The evening before we left, we read the book one last time. I also left him small gifts/toys that he could open each day – like a stack of stickers, a soap bubble blower, some post it notes with crayons, a new story book etc.
More than the toys, the book was a big hit. He didn’t cry when we left in our taxi. He in fact hugged us good bye with a smile. Every evening he would sit with the book and make Vipul’s mom read the book over and over again. And together they would “send” us an aero plane to fly back!
On our daily phone calls he would ask us to come back soon, on Saturday, and bring him new shoes. He used to lament that we didn’t take him along but otherwise he did fine. He also reminded us that he has sent us an aero plane and to comeback in it. We played along and said we were still waiting for it. But, whenever he missed us, he brought out the book and read it and kissed our photos in the book.
On Friday night, he refused to read the book stating that its Saturday tomorrow and its time for mamma-dada to come back. Instead he brought all his crayons out and colored all over the paper!
Without further ado, this is the story I created for him. It helped us a lot. Hoping that it will give you an idea if you ever have to travel leaving your toddler behind.