6 Ways To Help Your Child Cope While You're Away


It's not often that parents of young children get away for a break. Especially parents of twins. There are few who are brave enough to take on babysitting twins in general, let alone on overnight stays while their parents go off gallivanting. One night is a big enough ask, two is a push and anything more than three is utter luxury for the parents and a bit of a chore for the babysitters. No matter how much they love the kids in question. 

In the five years since Lile and Sábha were born, Devo and I have only had a few sporadic nights away, mostly in Ireland, and never for more than three nights at a time. I've always been ok with this. To be frank, it gave me the heebie-jeebies to even imagine both of us being more than an hour or two away from our girls while they were tiny and helpless. It didn't matter who was caring for them, the thoughts of anything happening to either them or us while we were separated was more than I could bear.

So, making the several thousand mile trip to New York, for five nights, last month was a huge deal for me. We had a very good reason for going and the girls were in the more than capable, and loving hands of their grandparents but it was still a big step for me as a parent.

As much as I knew I would miss my little ones, I was also concerned that Lile and Sábha would be upset while we were away. They can be quite clingy and can also find change difficult to navigate. We didn't set out to plan a strategy to minimise seperation anxiety for them but we did find ourselves doing things that ended up making us all feel more comfortable with Devo and I being away. Including the babysitters!


Here are the six things we did to make life easier for our girls while we were away and that might help you too if you have a trip coming up and have to leave your little ones behind.

1. Make a countdown calendar
We made a very last-minute, hand drawn calendar that represented the days we'd be away. It was my sister that suggested this to me. She is a primary school teacher and knows well how young children respond better to a visual representation of abstract things like time. This doesn't have to be an elaborate affair. As you can see, I drew six squares and a few stick figures to illustrate Devo and I travelling on the plane, and Mamó minding Lile and Sábha. We discussed what would happen on the different days (as much as possible) and focused on the FUN they would have. I then let them colour in the pictures and hang it on the wall where they could cross off the days one by one until we came home. This really helped them understand how long we'd be gone for and crossing off the days became an important part of the bedtime routine for my mama, who was babysitting.

2. Show a picture of where you'll be staying.
Sábha, in particular, was very concerned about where Mammy and Daddy would be sleeping while we were away. I had told her we were staying in an apartment but she seemed to really need a clear picture of where we'd be. I showed her the room we had rented through AirBNB on the laptop but she wanted to be able to look at it "for longer". I ended up printing it out and she stuck it on the wall beneath the calendar. She then made me draw a picture of me and Devo in the bed ("mammy reading and daddy sleeping") so that she could say goodnight to us every night. This definitely helped her feel more in control of the situation and she was so much happier about us leaving once we had done this.

3. Keep the routine
This really depends on your personal situation/location but having  the sitter mind your children in their own home while you are away is a massive help. My lovely mama moved into our house while we were away which meant the girls slept in their own beds, went to naíonra as usual and, most importantly, were in familiar surroundings most of the time. This definitely made life easier, both for them and for the babysitter as young children are much more likely to sleep better in their own beds than in someone else's house.

5. Leave a photo
We don't currently have framed family photos displayed in our house (we're seriously lazy about printing photos!) but Devo and I made sure to leave a large picture of ourselves in the living room while we were away. It's not that we were afraid that the girls would forget what we looked like - but, like the photo of the bedroom, we wanted them to be able to 'see' us or say goodnight or whatever...and... yeah... remember what we looked like too!

6. Call on time
While we were away, Devo and I always made sure to phone home at around the same time everyday. We called between dinner and bedtime, had a chat with each of the girls about their day and got an update from my mama about how they were getting on. Luckily all of the calls were really positive. It was oddly comforting to have the girls barely want to talk to us before running back to whatever they were doing. The calls were probably more of a comfort to us than it was for them but it was definitely a lovely part of each day we were away.


This was the 'Welcome Home' sign Sábha had left out for us on our return.

It is sunny and everyone is smiling.

That pretty much sums up the entire experience.

I can't wait for the next trip!

9 comments

  1. Some great ideas there- I love the idea of the countdown pictures. Anytime I phone home when I'm away my kids don't want to talk to me, they're too busy with Granny, which is great I suppose, but sometimes I need to talk to them!

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    1. Thanks. Thats it - we end up missing them more than they miss us! Maybe the coping strategies were more for me... kids are fairly resilient, really.

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  2. Great post! I love the picture of you guys in the bed!!
    Now if I could just find a babysitter, I'd be all over the countdown calendar...

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  3. I love the idea of the countdown picture, I am so stealing that one lol totally agree with the other tips! Great post hun x

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    1. Thanks Grainne, the countdown was definitely the thing that worked best for the girls :)

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  4. Oh heavens above, your girls are so sweet. Number 2 got me right in the feels. Right. In. The. Feels.

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