Leaving 1 year old for a week with grandparents, good or bad idea?
April 26, 2016 6:30 AM   Subscribe

Our daughter will turn 1 in August, and we have been invited to a friend's wedding in Italy (we are in the US), so we would need about 7-9 days. We normally take her with us on travels, but it's too much of a long travel flight time for her as she hasn't been on a plane yet, so bringing her is out of the question. We did want to go on a vacation just us two after her 1 year so it kind of works out perfectly. But, I'm afraid now that the time is come that she is too young, and that it will be too hard on her (and me), and I feel a tiny bit guilty leaving her. We could really use a vacation to relax and reconnect. My mother (her grandmother) is her caretaker during the week because we both work full time, so they are very comfortable with one another and I trust her completely. Has anyone traveled that long without your baby, how did it turn out?
posted by MamaBee223 to Human Relations (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
At the young age of 1.5 my mother left me with my beloved grandmother (who lived overseas!) to take care of me for 6+ months while my parents were trying to figure it out in America.

Of what bare memories I even have of the event, they're generally good ones and only resulting in a closer relationship with my grandmother, and I do not appear to have suffered any emotional damage. My mother remarked that it was really hard on her, but that I seemed remarkably adaptive.

People do what they need to do. In a loving, caring and safe environment, time apart from birth parents will not harm a child.
posted by Karaage at 6:37 AM on April 26, 2016 [10 favorites]


I'm not a parent, but my brother is, and our own parents live about 20 minutes away from him and his two kids, and he and my sister in law did this plenty. They still do.

The kids are fine, my parents got to indulge being "Nana and Grampi" a lot, my brother and sister in law got a break, and everyone was happy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:39 AM on April 26, 2016


(In fact, I think a couple times my parents even encouraged my brother to go off for a few days so they could get the kids!)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:40 AM on April 26, 2016


People make long flights work with kids of all ages. Having said that, as long as you feel like your caretaker can handle it and be sure to leave extra cash for fun stuff and a stocked fridge. Should be fine!
posted by amanda at 6:42 AM on April 26, 2016


We wouldn't mind the flight, but the point to go is to attend our friend's wedding festivities, and without help or a sitter there with us we woulnd't be able to do that as the wedding and everything takes place at night :(
posted by MamaBee223 at 6:45 AM on April 26, 2016


Oh my goodness, if the grand-parents are willing, by ALL means! Go with blessings!

Bring back a lovely present for the grandparents because that's QUITE a favor they'll be doing!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:45 AM on April 26, 2016 [13 favorites]


When I was 6 mo old, my parents left me for a week with friends of theirs. Everyone turned out just fine. Go, enjoy a lovely vacation!
posted by Fig at 6:49 AM on April 26, 2016


The first time I left my firstborn for any extended length of time, he was 15 months old and had just weaned about a month prior. He was in really good hands and I was very excited to take the trip with my husband. We went to Vegas with friends for about a week.

I cried for the entire first day. Everything would set me off. I was miserable! I called home like every two hours and he was fine! Having a great time! He babbled to me on the phone! Still, I cried all day long.

The second day was better, the third was better yet, and it was the end of the week before I knew it. Getting home felt like it took FOREVER but we were finally there and he and my MIL were waiting for us outside when we pulled up. He ran right to me and gave me the biggest, longest hug and then just babbled (not really talking yet) nonstop for like hours. I think he was telling me what he did while we were gone! MIL said he was a little fussier than usual and carried around one of my shoes for days (kids are weird) but all in all, he was fine.

I needed to get away and didn't realize how badly I needed to get away until we did.

BTW, he's 19 now and has absolutely no recollection of that period in his life. Your daughter will not remember that you've gone and come back, and really, it's the coming back that matters.

Go. She'll be fine! You'll have fun!
posted by cooker girl at 6:51 AM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


If your parents weren't used to looking after your daughter, I might be a bit cautious because a) they might have no idea what they're letting themselves in for, and b) you have no idea how your daughter is going to take to it.

But your mum already provides childcare 5 days a week. The only thing extra is the overnights, and (hopefully?) your daughter will be asleep for most of the night anyway.

You could get your daughter to stay overnight as a one-off to see how it goes first. But I'm sure it will be completely fine. Your parents are already comfortable looking after your daughter. Your daughter is already comfortable being left with your family. Go, and have a great time!
posted by tinkletown at 6:53 AM on April 26, 2016 [12 favorites]


We took our 1 year old to Italy last year and it was fine, but I went there to visit family so we had in-built baby sitting.

Your daughter already spends a ton of time with grandma, she'll be 100% fine! Plan to skype/ facetime but at that age my daughter really didn't care if I left on business trips ( :_: ) as long as she liked who she was staying with. It'll be a vacation for everyone but grandma and, to be fair, most of the grandmas I know would be ecstatic to keep their grandkids for a week. Go forth and enjoy!
posted by lydhre at 6:57 AM on April 26, 2016


I'd do a test night or something just to make sure your daughter isn't going to find the whole process very, very difficult, but this is something people do and if its just an issue of her being a little more fussy before falling asleep, I say go for it.

My parents used to go on a work trip every year from the year I was one and a half to the year I was seven. I got left at my grandparents and while I don't remember the baby years, but I loved it as a kid. The truth is babies love routine, so obviously a switch will be a little trying but probably worth it for you and really worth it for your daughter and grandma getting that time together too.
posted by GilvearSt at 6:58 AM on April 26, 2016


We left our daughters with their grandparents when they were 10 months old and 4 years old to go to a wedding in Italy. The grandparents would often babysit them, so they were comfortable and happy to stay with them. I was still nursing and was worried about how the 10 month old would handle it, but she took bottles like a champ and didn't miss a beat. And Italy was FABULOUS! I was initially grumbling when I heard the wedding was in Italy, but about 5 minutes into our trip, I realized it was the greatest thing that could have happened to us. Enjoy!

Oh, and we didn't leave any voice recordings or call to talk to the kids while we were away. We left our older daughter for a weekend when she was 2 and called to chat with her, but immediately regretted it. She has been happily playing, and then was upset for hours. Young kids don't have a good sense of time and won't realize how long you've been away.
posted by defreckled at 6:59 AM on April 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think if your mom is willing, this could be a great thing for everyone. The fact that baby is already accustomed to spending extended time at grandmother's house should make it a fairly easy adjustment. You could enlist a babysitter or family member to help a few times during the week. I know when I'm on 24/7 childcare duty, having someone scheduled to stop in even for just an hour is a huge relief.
posted by areaperson at 7:14 AM on April 26, 2016


By all means go! You are so lucky you have relatives that will do this for you -- bring them back something nice and enjoy your vacation!
posted by Ostara at 7:40 AM on April 26, 2016


Don't do a test night. It will likely be a disaster. However definitely do go. I've left my kids (currently three year old and 8 month old) with the grandparents multiple times. Both having them stay at our house and go stay at the grandparents.

The kids will always freak out for the first day or so, and then remember their grandparents are a pretty good time as well. Especially given they already spend a lot of regular time with grandma this is a no brainer.
posted by JPD at 8:06 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think the fact that your child regularly stays with Grandma helps. However, I'd also consider whether she's breast or formula fed, particularly at night.

I went away for four days from my breastfed 20 month old and she was a hot mess, even with dry runs. I kind of was, too. I felt very pressured to leave her even though I don't think I was emotionally ready. Even though she was well cared for and physically fine, it was rough on both of us, and she's had some reeeeally bad separation anxiety since, above and beyond what's normal for her age. But the hormonal/physical aspects of breastfeeding was a big factor for both of us.

You know yourself and your kid best. If your instinct is that it will be fine, even if a little hard on you, by all means go. But if it really doesn't sit right with you, it's okay not to do it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:23 AM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't be able to do it. Not even now, and my kid is almost 3. I think a week away is just too long. (But I am an admittedly very attached mama.) I appreciate cooker mama's honesty in saying how she cried so much at the beginning - that's how I would probably feel, too.

You know yourself and your child better than anyone. Make the choice that feels best for you. It sounds like your child already spends a lot of time with her grandparents, so it wouldn't be too different for her. Nights can be rough.
posted by jillithd at 8:24 AM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


(ha ha, jinx PhoBWanKenobi!)
posted by jillithd at 8:25 AM on April 26, 2016


Just adding to the chorus: my parents ditched me for a European vacation with the grandparents when I was a baby. It seems to have worked out fine for everyone -- I don't remember it at all, they had a great time, and my favorite photo of the two of them came from that trip. Just watch out that you don't come home with a sibling for the kiddo if that's something you're not planning for. :)
posted by natabat at 8:40 AM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


They will be fine. The only problem will be you relaxing enough to let them do it. Your mother may not do everything exactly how you did, but if you are happy with how you were raised & how she is caring for her during the week they will be fine.

They know each other, they are used to being together so it's not that big a change. Let your mother know your evening routine so she can follow it as exactly as possible to keep changes to a minimum. Bring over a familiar bed/bedding/toys. Go have fun in Italy.
posted by wwax at 8:50 AM on April 26, 2016


This will be fine. It sounds like she and your mother are very well bonded and will be able to manage everything just fine. When my oldest was about a year old I did a yearlong fellowship program that required me to be away for a week at a time every three months. The absence did not hurt our relationship at all and I think it was harder on me than it was on my kid. (Actually I'm pretty sure it was hardest on my spouse).
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 9:33 AM on April 26, 2016


If your mom is willing, you should take advantage of the opportunity. This will get trickier to pull off as your child (and your mother, depending on her age) get older.

I left my daughter with my parents for a week when she was around 14 months. She was in home-based daycare and was used to other caregivers. She saw my parents regularly but not constantly as we live 2.5 hours apart. When we came back, we got some pictures of random shenanigans she got into with her grandparents.

I was still nursing at that time, but was down to pretty much one session just before bed. I'm pretty sure I did the last one before I left, told her we could nurse again once I was back from my trip, but she never asked or expressed interest. So accidental weaning may be a concern, but we were mostly done so I was okay with how our nursing relationship ended for both of us.

She's been invited back regularly in the nearly seven years since then so it couldn't have been too traumatizing for anyone. My sister, who lives nearby would come by and cover if my mom had a work shift. They seem to have a good system.

Like other posters said, you know your kid - and your family - best. This does sound like a wonderful opportunity for you and your husband, so I think you should go for it. I do understand your worries though so if you don't think you can do it, you will just need to find another opportunity when you can. Good luck with your decision.
posted by melissa at 11:03 AM on April 26, 2016


Your child will survive it, and people are mostly saying go for it, so I'm guessing you will, but my parents did this with me, and I would not consider it except in the direst emergency.
posted by FencingGal at 1:38 PM on April 26, 2016


The first day and last couple of days may be super stressful for you. You might also sleep, have hot baths, take naps, have morning sex, linger over meals and drink a little too much without worrying about having to still be up at six am, jet lagged and hung.

It could be great. As mentioned, if you're nursing, that's a big decision that you shouldn't dismiss. I loved nursing and was really emotional about weaning. That said, I took four days when my son wasn't quite 3 and I wish I'd done it sooner. I desperately needed a break. Again, different phase for everyone.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 4:43 PM on April 26, 2016


It all depends on you and your kid. I work full time, didn't do very extended breastfeeding beyond 9 months, and my child is very sociable, knows her grandparents well and has very little issue separation anxiety.

I did this with my 1.5 year old daughter and left her for about 11 days with my parents, because my in laws were hellbent on taking us on a $10,000 European vacation that they had booked and paid for. I had some misgivings about it, but it wasn't very hard either for her or for me. Mostly only hard because I wanted her to miss me, maybe act like she couldn't live without me or something, in some little part of my heart. I sent her some postcards from Europe that she couldn't care less about, tried to FaceTime with her but she didn't feel like talking to screen mommy (and wifi was super slow). I had a blast in Europe but I kind of feel like I wasted some time feeling ashamed and like a bad mom, in retrospect I think because of the insane pressure to be an attached, uber-involved parent these days.

My parents told me my daughter had a blast, occasionally asked where I was but was easily mollified by the response that I was on a trip, and was generally just happy and is no worse the wear for it in any way. I'll definitely be doing it again someday!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:35 PM on April 26, 2016


Is your mom confident with Skype? If not, use the time before you go to get her up to speed - and involve your daughter in those tests. That way, you'll still be able to have daily chats with them both (time difference allowing).

I don't have kids, but the only memory I have before the age of 4 is of the red carpet on the stairs at my grandparents place. They lived in the UK and we visited them when I was 18 months old. We lived in a one story house, so stairs were a novelty for me, and apparently I spent the entire two weeks crawling up the stairs and having to be helped down. My point is that your daughter really won't remember this experience, beyond some vague recollection of having green sheets on her bed or the smell of jasmine from your mom's garden (or whatever). She'll be fine.

Go! Enjoy!
posted by finding.perdita at 1:21 AM on April 27, 2016


I had to leave my then-one-year-old for ten days (albeit with his dad) when my father was terminally ill. Kiddo did fine, husband missed me a LOT.
posted by 41swans at 3:21 PM on April 27, 2016


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