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Mothering › Baby Articles › Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

facebookjtWe’re on day #19 of the Back to Self 30 day Challenge! If you’re just joining us now, it’s not too late – simply “Like” our facebook page and join in the fun.

We’ve been encouraging all of you do schedule a 3 hour solo retreat for yourself during the challenge.   A few of you have managed to create a whole weekend for yourselves!   We got this message from a wondering mama on our facebook page:

I have an opportunity to go to Hawaii for 3 nights with some friends. I haven’t left my 22 month daughter overnight before. She doesn’t sleep through the night yet. I nurse back to sleep. I’m having heart palpitations just thinking about leaving her and having my partner lose sleep from trying to get her back to sleep. But I really need this retreat. It’s been a long 22 months of co-sleeping and nursing. Do you have any insights?

The age old question – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I stay or should i go now….

If i go there will be trouble

If i stay there will be double…

- The Clash

We all need time alone.  The big question is when & how.  Big emotions come up as well – anticipation, anxiety, guilt – especially the first time we leave our child.  Whether for an hour, an evening date, or a weekend away, it’s a big leap that first time.

Sometimes it goes smoothly & the child thrives with special time with a partner or loved one.  Sometimes, in hindsight, we wonder if it would have been better to wait.  Sometimes we wait longer than we should out of fear or guilt.


We would love to hear from all of you – have you gone away for one night or more yet?  How did you know when your child was ready?

Mama Renew

About Sarah Juliusson

Sarah Juliusson, founder of Mama Renew, is a gifted facilitator and writer on the journey of birth & motherhood. She brings two decades of experience supporting families through pregnancy, birth and motherhood to her work. Sarah is mother to two growing boys, a playful crafter with cloth & wool, student of traditional food preservation, and a diva at heart. Join the conversation on http://www.mamarenew.ca & on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mamarenew

Comments (17)

I haven't spent a night away from my children yet so I am curious to read what people have to say. My oldest will be 4 in a few weeks and the closest she has come to a night away from me was a "sleepover" with her cousins in my MIL's room across the hall from me :) My youngest is 19 months and still nursing. My husband would like to get away after he returns from his deployment and I am hoping I can bring myself to leave them because my husband deserves the weekend away. .-= Lisanne´s last blog ..crafty Halloween =-.
From what you have written, it seems clear to me that neither you nor she is ready this. Sounds like you'd both be miserable. But I'm also hearing that you need a break... Here are some ideas... How about taking a mini vacation less than an hr away with a good friend? Or maybe just working at easing into having your spouse take over more of the nighttime duty while you sleep in another room... Or perhaps you are ready to night wean. My daughter magically began sleeping through the night as soon as she was night weaned. She went from waking 4+ times to sleeping soundly the whole night through. I felt better than I had in months!!! Of course you would know if you two are ready for this... Do you currently have any alone time during the week? An evening when he puts her to bed and you hit your favorite coffee shop, have a ladies night out, go to yoga etc? My daughter is 5 and we've only recently had overnights where we are apart.
It is never easy leaving our children but so often we moms forget to take care of ourselves. Three days away with friends to recharge will make her a better mother and partner, and it will give her partner time to bond in a new way with their child. Even if there are sleep issues, the child will have a loving, nurturing parent there and it will be o.k. The blogger really answered her own question already, "I really need this retreat." I say, GO GO GO with NO GUILT! My twins are 27 months old and they spend the night at grandma's house all the time. It gives my husband and I time to reconnect and my kids love it. I have also traveled briefly for business and left the kids with daddy. There's no better way for a partner to see the joys and challenges of handling the kids/house/chores on their own than for mom to go away for a few days.
My son will be turning 12 months next week and I have not spent a night away from him yet. He quit nursing at nine months (much to my dismay) so my husband would be well-equipped with the feeding situation. My son also sleeps through the night. That said, I have been provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit family overseas in March. At that time my son will be 17 months old. I have decided-after waffling back and forth for about a month-that I am going to take this 11 day trip. I don't want to pass up this opportunity and then feel resentful for staying home. But, I must admit-I am anxious about leaving my son for that long. Will he remember me? Will he get attached to my mother in law who will be visiting? Will we be able to ichat or will that be too upsetting? I think I will to a "dry run" a few weekends before this trip and visit a friend out of town. That way, I can get the "first night away" over with and hopefully that will alleviate anxiety for me, my husband, and my son.
I don't think I could have left the boys overnight if I didn't have a wonderful, capable partner to leave them with. I went away for 2 nights the first time and 1 night the second, stayed in a wonderful hotel, had a glass of wine (or 2) and hung out with with the girls. My husband and I have also taken a night off together. The boys stayed with their Nana and Papa, so it was a treat for all of us! I was still breastfeeding the first time a went away but I waited until my little one had weaned for the second trip. I definitely felt better about the second experience.
Wow. That's a tough one. If i'm reading that right, that's 3 nights, and therefore 5 days, away from your nursing 22 month old. But what an opportunity. I presume there isn't any way for your family to accompany you so that you are available to her even once or twice a day. I have no advice for you, but i *really* hope you'll update us on what you decide, why, and how it went, because i for one would love to be able to take a cue from your experience. Good luck, and i sincerely hope you make the choice that makes you the happiest, whichever that may be.
I recently wrote a blog about this, fel free to check out my options there. http://hilltownfamilies.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/blanchard-5/ I think the hardest part was actually going... I talked to my daughter to let her know what was going to happen, she was sad but forgave me. I think it would have been harder had I not told her. *sigh* it was tough but I felt GREAT afterwards (my daughter was right around 22 months too at the time) ~alisa .-= alisa´s last blog ..Lost- Loved- &amp Labored =-.
I don’t think I could have left the boys overnight if I didn’t have a wonderful, capable partner to leave them with. I agree, trusting my partner made it easier to endure! .-= alisa´s last blog ..Lost- Loved- &amp Labored =-.
If you are leaving an unweaned one that little see if you can do some practice runs for shorter periods of time and not so far away first and see how you both feel about it. That should answer your question for you.
It's such a difficult decision to make especially if you are still night nursing. If you do decide to go have your partner practice for a night while you are in another room. Remember that it is a gift for your child to know that sometimes mommy goes away but she always comes back, it is a gift for you to know that your child will be ok if you are not there for a few days. I had to leave my five year old for the first time to attend my brother's funeral overseas and dealing with his reaction while I was grieving was overwhelming. Since then I have made it a point to take turns with a good friend of mine watching each others children overnight in good times so if there is an emergency and we have to leave our very attached (nursed well into toddlerhood) children we can do so with some peace of mind.
It sounds like mama, at least, is ready to wean. If your only nursing is nursing back to sleep you may want to consider taking this opportunity to wean. (That is if you have enough time to do it). My son woke every few hours while we were weaning, but almost immediately upon weaning he was sleeping through the night. Also, hubby couldn't put him to sleep until he was weaned. Of course weaning is a process, for us it was several months. I started by just nursing at night, then down to 3-4 times, then down to two, then down to nursing just when I was putting him to bed (that lasted a week or two). There were a few rough nights, but it wasn't as hard as I thought. I never let him CIO, I always respond to him immediately with love and soothing, because by the time we weaned at 13 months nursing was really only about soothing. Trust your heart, you'll make the right choice for you and for her.
It doesn't sound to me like you guys are ready for it, but I second what others have said -- the only way to be sure is to do a dry-run for one night. You don't want it hanging over your head throughout the 3 days that the first night was awful! I certainly wouldn't try it until the baby was night-weaned. Otherwise, you're taking away her only way of getting to sleep. Try continuing all you normally do, but not nursing. Then, once she learns to get to sleep with you and not nursing, try having her sleep with daddy but without you. If that works, make your travel plans! But if not, it may be best to stay home. I just stayed home from a trip to Europe so I wouldn't be subjecting the baby to a transatlantic flight. I did feel a bit left out, but turned out to be for the best -- it was a very stressful trip for those who went, and the accommodations weren't great. I just take it as one of those sacrifices I have to make in exchange for all the baby smiles I get! For what it's worth, my mom didn't leave me overnight till I was maybe 7. I still remember my older brother and I being excited because we got to eat TV dinners (which was all my dad could cook!). .-= Sheila´s last blog ..Grain-free Update =-.
I waited til my daughter was 2 1/2. She was still nursing to sleep, but I was OK with it if she were to wean while I was gone (she did not, BTW). We were gone 2 nights. I was a little sad the first night, but some drinks helped! She had a fine time with my mom. Now she is almost 4 (weaned at 2 yrs. 8 mos.). I still don't leave her very often overnight, but she is always fine when I do, and it is a nice break.
I disagree that it will be a problem to leave a nursing 2 year old. My second child spent his first night away from home when he was 18 months old. He spent it with my mother and it happened because he asked to. He was verbal enough to understand when I explained to him that Mommy wouldn't be there, etc... He was fine. (It probably helps my mom thinks food is love and keeps a big stock of chocolate, ice cream, etc. plus its non-stop TV at her house but hey when she's babysitting him his Dad and I are usually off eating high calorie food and watching movies, too!) We didn't even begin night weaning for another 4 months after that. You have to judge how your child will react and it doesn't hurt to tell them what you're planning and get their thoughts and opinions. I bet Dad has his own tricks for helping get your child to sleep by now. And did I mention bribery and a lessening of standards on junk food and TV? It doesn't hurt to bring an exciting present back with you. Could be candy, could be silly socks whatever your child is into. .-= Lori´s last blog ..Yaargh!!! Again =-.
It really depends on the child. I had to leave both my kids overnight when I was giving birth to the next. My first child was 2 months shy of 3 years old when I went into labor and had to drop him off at a friend's house. He did great! He understood why I couldn't be there and it wasn't an issue. The second time around, my second child was almost 3 years old. She chose Grammie to stay overnight with her instead of daddy. The first night went marginally okay. The second night was horrible. In both cases, the child still nursed frequently, including at night. The child who actually nursed a lot more is the one who did better!
and...sometimes we don't trust our partners as much as we should. I see many moms afraid to leave simply because they're not sure their partner could "handle" it - in my own experience my husband needed me to walk out to that first yoga class, and then that first birth (as a doula), then that first work trip, for him to step fully into that role with confidence!
yes, I left my 18 month old who was full-on cosleeping and breastfeeding and night-waking for a full 5 nights for a work trip. When i returned he popped right back on and nursed for another 8 months until the day his brother was born - when he chose to all-too abruptly self-wean. Yes, I pumped every 4 hours or so, but it was a suprisingly smooth transition back together.
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