I'll get back to the Morocco blogging soon, but I think it's time to catch up a bit on "real life" photos. Am I the only one who thinks it's been too long since Afton was the star of the blog?! ;) Let's take it back to November in Ocean Springs.
I was pretty anxious during the weeks leading up to my trip to Morocco. I had literally never spent a night away from Afton and was about to travel across the world...?! For nine days?! I will admit that I googled "how to travel without your toddler" and mostly found info about how to travel WITH your toddler, which was not helpful. (If you've been around my blog for any length of time or know me in real life, you know that I have done PLENTY of traveling with this little one.) So... even though I'm definitely NOT a parenting expert and am not typically a "mommy blogger" type... here goes: How to Travel Without Your Toddler. (You know, just in case I'm not the only person needing to google that.) ;)
(If you aren't a toddler parent, feel free to skip reading this one and just enjoy the pretty pictures. ;))
1. Plan ahead. We started telling Afton way in advance that Mommy and Daddy were taking a trip to Morocco. In this case, Daddy left first (for work), so Afton and I talked about where Daddy was and how Mommy was going to go visit him. Of course, the most important part of the planning was figuring out who would take care of her while we were both gone, and that part ended up being easy in this case. Memaw and Papaw had already planned to come visit in November before we knew about the Morocco trip, and they volunteered to stay during the time of our trip! Perfect!
2. Ease into the transition. We made sure that Memaw and Papaw arrived a few days before I left so there was not an abrupt switch from Mommy to grandparents. They hung out with us at home like during any other visit.
But not just at home. They learned all the ropes of taking Afton to school, the church nursery, and even her favorite park. They learned how to use the carseat, how to check her in and out at school/church, what to put in her backpack... the whole nine yards! (I did prepay for school for the time I'd be gone and make sure she had enough diapers and wipes on hand both at school and at home so they didn't have to worry about that.)
3. Create some structure around the amount of time you'll be gone. This is not something I can take credit for at all, but Memaw created a whole system for counting down the days until Mommy and Daddy came home. She made a sticker chart for Afton's nighttime routine. Not only did she enjoy the stickers, she could see how many more stickers she'd put on the poster until we came back! Even cooler than the sticker chart was a handmade book made by Memaw in advance. Complete with pictures of us, it told the story of Mommy and Daddy going on a trip, Afton spending each day with her grandparents, and Mommy and Daddy coming home! Each day of the trip had its own interactive page, so it doubled as a journal about her fun time with her grandparents. She still likes to read it!
4. Beware FaceTime. Oh, the joys of modern technology, right?! Before the trip, when I felt anxious, I'd remind myself about FaceTime and feel better. It's just like being there! It'll be great, right? In our case, NOPE. We FaceTimed once. Afton was happy to see us, though not really all that excited (which was fine because that meant she was perfectly happy without us). We had a sweet conversation, just the usual... until it was time to hang up. She got really upset and did not want us to "go bye bye." It was hard to see her feeling sad... definitely the worst part of our whole trip. We did not FaceTime again since it was not a positive experience for anyone, especially Afton. BUT I still gotta give props to modern technology, because what we did do was receive daily photos from Memaw and Papaw, showing us all the fun things they were up to. That way we got to see our girl's smiling face every day without her having to get sad. She was doing great without us, and that was a great feeling! (If you don't think that sounds like a great feeling, then traveling without your child is probably not a good idea just yet.)
5. Relax and have fun! Your child is in good hands, and you deserve to enjoy your trip guilt-free. Several people were worried about me before my trip, asking me how I was going to handle being away from my daughter for so long. Some people even told me it was going to be worse than I was expecting and that I couldn't possible know how much I was going to miss her. But I gotta tell you, it really wasn't that dramatic. Did I miss her? Of course. Did I feel sad and wish I had stayed home? Not a chance. I will refrain from getting on my anti-mom-guilt soapbox here, but I think we can all agree that moms need vacations, too, and that hanging out with your grandparents is not a bad thing for any kid. :)
That's all I've got! Again, not an expert here, but thought my experience might be helpful for someone somewhere, so there you have it. If you've traveled without your toddler, how did it go? Put your best tips in the comments!