It is never easy to get on an airplane and leave our loved ones behind. We are physically and emotionally connected to our children, partners, and even pets. It takes an emotional toll to leave for an extended period of time. However, as hard as it is, it is vital to put self-care at the forefront. Taking time to refill your own cup so you can continue to give is of immeasurable worth.
Before I was a doula, I was a blogger for nine years. I had several opportunities to go to blog conferences (yes, that’s a thing). Whether it was for speaking, being a brand ambassador, or just to connect with other bloggers, I would go to conferences several times a year.
As the mother to five children, it was always difficult to get on that airplane and leave my small people behind. My heart was torn; I didn’t want to leave, but I knew I needed to go and do something for myself.
Through the years, I have found ways to make leaving a little bit easier on everyone, including myself.
—Communication is key
Talk to your partner about what you need. If they are not typically involved in the day-to-day with your family, make them a schedule. Set expectations with your family before you go.
—Schedule, schedule, schedule
Write it all down. Even if your partner thinks they know what the daily schedule is for your family, there may be things you know that they don’t. Write it all down; a daily schedule of activities, times and places, people to call to help with rides if necessary, phone numbers of doctors, and any appointments that may be happening.
—Use your community
We all have our support networks. Maybe you live near family that you know you can count on to help out. Perhaps you don’t have family nearby, but you have friends you know you can count on. Ask your community for help with whatever you may need. Rides to and from school, after school care, daytime watching of littles while your partner works, maybe even bringing in a meal.
Much like a pregnant person preparing for the postpartum period, we need to plan ahead. Make freezer meals, talk with your partner and children about what is going to happen, and set up your support.
What many of our doulas have found, whether leaving home for a retreat or traveling to take a training and begin a brand-new career, is that leaving is often harder on us than it is the children. Kids are amazing in their ability to adapt. Even the philosophy of attachment parenting allows for separation, particularly short-term. Remember that because of their secure connection to their parents, they are actually more capable of adapting, not the other way around.
It can seem really daunting to take off for five days to a different country. But it can be done. And when you come back sun-kissed, refreshed, and renewed, you will be able to give so much more of yourself to all those you love and care for. You are not selfish. You are simply wise enough to know that there’s a healthy ebb and flow to family life that requires parents to have some downtime.