What is the best way to leave your child?

“Mummy, I won’t like you if you leave me and go away”

I am leaving my family. I’ve done it before and I will probably do it again, but this time it’s different. I know I’ve only just returned from a week in Cornwall, I know I have a weekend in London planned a thing called CyberMummy, but in between I’m squeezing in a long weekend in Northern Spain, just me and some girlfriends to celebrate a friends 40th Birthday.

How fab is that? I think, maybe…..

I’ve left Noo with his Dad before over night, but not for a while. This feels different, and if I’m honest the thing that I’m finding most difficult is the physical distance that will be between us. All my previous breaks have been in the UK. This time, I am a plan ride away for 4 nights.

On return from our trip to Cornwall I broached the subject by way of preparation (did I leave that till the last minute?).

Noo’s response (remembering this is the child that doesn’t want to go to nursery) “Don’t leave me mummy”. “I don’t want you to go away”.

Since then, a plaintiff voice has repeated asked “are you going away today?”.

I’ve brought him the book Owl Babies, I’ve always loved it and I’m not sure why we don’t own it and the theme is appropriate. I know I’m going to enjoy my break, I know it’s going to be fun, I know I will come back refreshed and that I deserve a break but….

Apart from assurances that I will be back, what else can I say. I’d love some tips on abandoning your children?


  1. Emma

    I think the Owl Babies book is a great idea. No real tips, apart from the bribe of presents upon my return, that always works well! Just rest assured that he will be absolutely fine and don’t let worrying about it dominate your valuable time away! Have a great time! Emma 🙂

  2. Kate Takes 5

    Oh Gemma I could have written this post! I’m away for 2 nights for the first time ever for Cybermummy but am not too worried about that. Then in July I have a trip to Benicassium festival in Spain and although I know it will be amazing I am slightly terrified about the distance and not being able to just go home if I want to. And what if something happens when I’m away etc etc. My 2 year old doesn’t even like it when I go to the shops without him so there may be trouble ahead. Sorry – no advice but will be watching for answers!!

    1. helloitsgemma

      Cheers Kate. Keep an eye on the tips, I guess CyberMummy will be an opportunity to see how it goes and pave the way for a longer trip – you are so right – it is that thing of not being able to go home if you want to…..

  3. TheMadHouse

    Go and Buy no metter what by Debi Glori. It is a great book about unconditional love and Mini adores it (it has helpped a lot since my mum died). He hates for me to leave, he hates school, he hated nursery. He knows that I am due to go in to hosital for a couple of days in July and we have agreed to pretend that it isnt happening. Sorry I don;t have the perfect anser, but I think it is a lot about knowing that you are comoing back

  4. Emma @notsuchayummymummy

    I’m actually typing this in Australia having abandoned my nearly 3 year old for 16 days to visit my little sister and brand new baby nephew.
    It wasn’t an easy decision to leave my husband & son at home but we just couldn’t afford for us all (or even 2) of us to go.
    I’ve been preparing Sam for weeks, telling him I’d be seeing Auntie Helen and the baby which he understood. He knows I’ve been on a plane & am in Australia. Luckily he is still pretty young & doesn’t do that emotional pulling on your heartstrings thing! Although he has refused to speak to me when I rang today & yesterday (when I first arrived). I’ve cried more than him so far!
    I think you have to tell him, look this is what’s happening & when. He’ll be fine once you’re gone. You can guarantee it! Good luck!!

    1. helloitsgemma

      Emma – thank you so much for taking time from your trip to Australia to leave me a comment – I know he’ll be fine and I am going to take a deep breathe. Hope your son talks to you before the trip is up. Enjoy your precious time in Australia with your sister. X

  5. Flora Jenkins

    Really hard to explain to a toddler who has no concept of time (or travel!). You could try drawing a wall planner for the days you’re away with pictures and drawings of what your little boy will be doing on each day you’re away. Then he can understand when you’re going and when you’re coming back. They also like ticking off everything they’ve done – from waving bye bye to mummy, to getting dressed to bath time etc. Quite a good distraction. My friend left a different postcard with a message for her child for each morning she was away. Good luck! x

  6. Mary

    A calendar page so he can mark off the days? Helped for both of mine, as did leaving little notes (one for each day you’ll be gone). One of mine also requested (& got) paper kisses (lippy-covered lip prints) on a piece of paper.

    You’ll both be fine, though I know it doesn’t always feel like it (& in 2 weeks you can smugly tell me the same thing).

  7. spudballoo

    I don’t think there’s any real solution to this. You’ve given him plenty of warning, I think I’d leave it now until perhaps 2 nights before you go and then you can do the 2 more sleeps and then you’ll be having your BIG ADVENTURE WITH DADDY…then 1 more sleep.

    I’d make it more about a BIG ADVENTURE WITH DADDY! Just the boys, doing boy stuff…rather than about ‘mummy going away’. And then be really firm and matter of fact about it, no point letting him see you’re worried. All you have to say is that you having a very short break with your friends and that you know he will have a fabulous time with Daddy and that you’ll be back soon. Dont’ get in to a whole ‘but can’t I come with you/don’t you want to be with me/but I’ll miss you’ thing..just be, ‘I have to go, I’ve promised my friends and you can’t break a promise! It’s for grown up ladies only and I’m looking forward to it’.

    You’re not ‘abandoning him’, you’re leaving him in the care of his father!

    Good luck! x

  8. Lesley Bown

    Hi, read your post with interest because that could have been me writing a few years ago with first oldest son. With my 3 boys, all react differently to me leaving them and I have gone away a few times for couple of nights whilst Daddy looks after them. I always have to battle the demons that I leave them to go to work so any spare time I should be with them but as you put it I need some time to myself. Never think of you abandoning your son, abandoning is leaving them alone or neglecting them. I have found that like you if I explain where, when and with who I am going away that they’re fine. The older the get the easier it is as they see it as something different or out of the ordinary and I normally sell them staying at grandparents as a sleepover which works a treat! Your son sounds v.clever that he can spot your anxiety about leaving him and sometimes I think with my oldest and youngest that they have been upset (the toddler still gets upset) as part of a routinue rather than geniune anxiety of their behalf. Its something that I’m dealing with the toddler at the moment but I do find as he’s the third the guilt has left and as soon as I’m out the door on my way to work I forget. Sorry for the long post but been thinking about this issue with my youngest for the the past week or so and your post pulled on my heart strings. Enjoy your weekend and how lucky are you with friends like that! Look forward to hearing all about it. Ditzy Mummy x

  9. Miss Behaving

    As per usual I’m a few days later and at least 5 quid short.
    I can offer you only the what not to do.
    Do not walk through airport security and turn into a snivelling, bawling wreck and phone the DH and ask him, ‘ who does this? what am I thinking?’ 🙂
    Changes nothing, helps no one.
    Have a superbly fabulous time.

  10. Alexander Residence

    I am lastminutedot.com about announcing my departures which is probably bad. But OH was away lots last year and we had Daddy countdown sticker charts with a big picture of him returning with a present. It worked a treat. Sorry it’s too late, but it might help for Cybermummy?

  11. Muddling Along

    We played a LOT of peekaboo when the girls were small because I’ve always had to leave them for work

    I’ve always found that irrespective of how much fuss they make when you go, 5 minutes later it is all wonderful again and they are ok. I do wonder if mine feel they need to kick up a fuss just to make me feel wanted!

    And they do appreciate you more after a break which is a good thing in my book

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