Advice for summer vacation?

by singlemomseeking on July 27, 2009

Let’s just say you’re sitting at your computer, working, when the phone rings. One of your single mom friends —  who recently got remarried — is calling from her job, on a break. So, she cuts to the chase:

Do you think your daughter would like to go to Hawaii this August?

Excuse me?

First, you want to laugh. Of course, your kid — and not you — gets offered a week-long summer invitation to Hawaii, with a round trip plane ticket already purchased.


Here’s how it goes:

Every summer, I bid farewell to this girlfriend as she leaves with her parents for Hawaii. But this August, for the first time ever, my friend has decided to take this week off for have an adults’ only vacation with her new husband. It’s going to be her longest time away from her daughter.

The grandparents have already purchased four plane tickets and rented an amazing home for a week. So, they have one extra ticket, and they’d love to bring along a playmate for their granddaughter. (As in, my girl.) Our girls have been friends for years — and these grandparents are sweet, doting, and very attentive.

So, what should I do?

I’ve never been apart from M for more than a few days, when I went on my book tour. But a whole week — without me?

Still, last night — just to get a sense about how M might feel about such a big trip — I broached the subject with her. Of course, I was expecting to hear: “You mean, take a trip away from you, Mommy?”

But no! Instead, she started jumping up and down, asking, “Can I go? Can I go?”

Clearly, I’m the one who’s having trouble at the idea of letting her go. Deep breath. I hold my breath every time I think about her on the plane without me. Will there be cell reception on the island? What if she gets homesick? How do I know she’ll get enough to eat?

What can I say? I’m a bit of a worrier. I know what I should be thinking about what I might do on my own: Getting some alone time. Doing some yoga to quiet my mind. Writing. Spending time with that LG.

Please: do you have any advice?

I know that many of you send your kids off to visit the “other parent” — or relatives — for the summer. How do you cope?


In the meantime, as I try to make a decision, Dr. Leah offers some very helpful advice about how to prepare your children for time away you this summer.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Barry August 3, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. Like Nike, Just do it!

Lucky Guy will feel very , well, lucky 🙂


Nikki A July 30, 2009 at 6:43 pm

I just moved from Hawaii after living there for 2 yrs to Arkansas…I know…why Arkansas? is the first question from any normal human being! Long story short- I am from Arkansas and at the demise of my marriage the life that presented itself would have been a lot less comfortable due to Hawaii’s cost of living. Anyway- if you truly trust this couple to take care of your daughter as if she were their own then I would say go for it. If she has a laptop with a webcam that will definitely subside some of the potential homesickness. Hawaii is definitely paradise and is a place that most people dream of going to but never do. I will say if you prefer to experience this trip of her lifetime as a family memory- then I would pass and plan something for you both in the future. It will be tough if financially you are unable and you have already presented the idea to her. So good luck- and yes- they have cell phone service but the lesser known brands do not have good coverage. Verizon, Sprint and AT&T seem to work ok. If they are renting a home it is likely to have a landline home phone which is also free and guaranteed to work. Definitely send her with a digital camera with lots of memory…


K.C. July 29, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Well – as the receiver of 30 boys each summer, it is tough on about 20% of the boys, but they are better for it. Home sick time is limited to 3 minutes a day, then get to classes! No ecuse, let’em go! Probably the same for girls.

Scoutmaster – Troop 457


GLSD July 29, 2009 at 11:06 am

Let her go!!! You trust the people that she’s traveling with and what a great experience for her. You will both miss each other, but will appreciate each other more too! Tell her to have fun and take lots of pics…and you’re only a phone call away! My daughter was 14 when she first flew alone to FL to our friends house for spring break. She was there a week. We spoke every day and she had a blast. It makes them appreciate you and they become that much stronger and independent. All good things!


littlemansmom July 29, 2009 at 8:50 am

Oh honey…let her go!!!! Imagine what an awesome experience! I firmly believe that everyone should travel as much as they can in their life. She can handle it…you can handle it. Littleman and M are the same age, I’d let him go in a blink!


Nicki July 29, 2009 at 8:21 am

I understand completely. Part of the reason I stayed married so long was to avoid losing the kids for visitation. Now that they are older, I’m slowly adjusting.

The key, I’ve found, is to have plans in place. Then I don’t have time to dwell on missing them. And I call them every day or text them. Nothing long, just a moment to let them know I care and hope they are having a good time. I make sure the contact is when I’m in a great mood.

It really keeps the transitions smooth, whether it be that they are on vacation with their dad or I’m on vacation with my boyfriend.

Best of luck. You’re tough. You can do it. Think of it as a rite of passage.


singlemomseeking July 29, 2009 at 11:15 am

Those of you who’ve offered to take the ticket — and be cared for by doting grandparents? — crack me up!!

@Nicki: So true! Being proactive and making plans really seems to work. And making sure to contact your kids when you’re in a good mood… for sure!

Oh @Kriz, thanks for: “Do you want her to always remember the summer she did — or didn’t go — to Hawaii?”


April July 28, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Well, if I could get over my jealousy that my girls get to go to Hawaii before ME :), yes, I’d let them go. It’s a little longer than we’ve done in the past (4-5 days is usually our limit), but I think we would all survive it! If I knew that my girls were going to be with people that loved them, and that knew how to care of them, then we would start making their packing list, and I’d start making plans for myself!


kriz bell July 28, 2009 at 10:05 pm

the first thing that came to my mind was when my parents made me go camping (not fun when it’s 2 stroke heaven on a dingy lake but i digress) instead of letting me go to Day on the Green… i am still a wee bit bitter! that’s right 22 years later…

all that to say- let her go! do you want her to always remember the summer she did or didn’t go to Hawaii?


steph July 28, 2009 at 7:52 pm

My kids stay with their dad for 4 weeks in the summer. It is tough to get through, but I keep busy. I have them 90% of the time and look forward to trying new things I don’t really get to do when they are around. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss them. This summer the minute I dropped them off, I missed them. Thinking how I was going to get through. I pick them up this weekend. I am looking forward to it, feel refreshed and ready to get back into a routine.

It will be good for you and her. she is going to be with adults you trust.


singlemomseeking July 29, 2009 at 11:17 am

@Steph: Four weeks?? Wow. You’re a strong woman.

@J: I love it when a lurker comes out. Thanks. Thanks for letting me know that you and your seven-year-old had a great time… each on her own.


jen July 28, 2009 at 7:20 pm

So long as you trust the people she’ll be with let her go. It’ll be great for her, and for your relationship to have some time apart. You’ll miss her but you’ll get over it and I’m sure you deserve a week to yourself.


J July 28, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I’ve been a long time lurker to your website and this time couldn’t help throwing my two cents into the mix.

I say let her go. My daughter is 7 and this summer she spent two weeks at my parents who now live 1500 miles away from us. She loved it and it was good for me too.

M will be so busy experiencing new things that the time will fly for her and the memories she will make will last the rest of her life. It was hard letting my daughter go for two weeks, but I made sure I had things planned for myself and the time really did go by fast. I think we both appreciate each other a little more now, with some time spent apart. Absence makes the heart grow fonder! 🙂


judy July 28, 2009 at 1:38 pm

So I am assuming that M’s packing list is in order, she has hew own digital camera as well… disposable is fine, and you have purchased her a little fannypack/backpacky thing that she will carry with her for her phone, list of numbers and peanuts.

And when she leaves don;t inadvertently guilt her by telling her too much how much you will miss her, tell her to be safe and sane and have the most fun she can, to mind her manners and that although you will miss her, missing can be a good thing.

Now, you start planning YOUR week!


Honey July 28, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I second (or should I say fifteenth): let her go. What an awesome opportunity for both of you!


MLC July 28, 2009 at 11:12 am

Oh, I’ve been lurking for a while, but had to respond to this one! My 10yo daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome, and when I took her on a 10 hour flight from the UK to San Francisco last year she freaked out, so I know she couldn’t travel alone, and I don’t know when I’ll get the courage to fly long haul with her again. I feel like her life is limited by this, though she loves seeing new places I just can’t face taking her. The point of this is: I would love it if she could spend holidays with friends and family, but it’s too hard for everyone involved. If this isn’t the case for you then you should do it! She will miss you, but that’s good, it means she’ll appreciate you more when she comes home. Or else, I’ll go to Hawaii instead (raining in Edinburgh).


wandamd22 July 28, 2009 at 10:51 am

Twice a year(for 2 years now) my 4 1/2 year old leaves for 10 days with her Daddy to visit his family. I am not going to lie; the first few times were torturous and I was a crying mess at the airport when I picked her up.

This reaction is just that…a reaction but it got me thinking that in my need to push all the co-dependency out of my life I am striving to raise an independent daughter. I wanted her to be excited and comfortable to go out and explore the world *choke* without me. Through this comfort it sends the message that she is comfortable with the stability she has at home that it and I will be just the same when she comes back.

The summer trip came and passed a few weeks ago and it was surprising how much easier it was. She had a blast, was super happy to come home and in the end the fact that she “didn’t” miss me overtly as much was a good thing.


ruth July 28, 2009 at 9:39 am

ack! I would send her! If I had anyone I could trust with my son for a week I’d let him go in a heartbeat. I think it’s important for kids to get along without us sometimes. I really wish I had those kind of people in my life that I knew would take care of my child so I could relax. I’ve never been away from him for more than a night. She will have a great time! Plan something extra special for yourself! You really deserve the break too, take it!


Priscilla San Remo July 28, 2009 at 9:36 am

I’d let her go in a heartbeat. I was “lucky” enough to share custody of my son after my divorce, so I was used to him spending extended periods of time (4-7 days) away from me from the time he was eight years old. My ex-husband’s family travels quite a bit, and I let him go with them to Mexico, London, New York, Washington, and Costa Rica.

Once he turned 11, he started going to music camp, which was in another state 1500 miles away but across the lake from his paternal grandparents’ summer cottage (a nice safety net for emergencies, homesickness, etc.). At first I panicked, because he was going to be gone for over a month, tacking on family vacation to his four weeks at camp. But after the first year, I realized it was good for both of us. He gained independence and got to pursue fun and interests, as well as visit family on the east coast. I got to go on dates without worrying about his visitation schedule, putter more in the garden, eat whatever and whenever I wanted (lost 10 pounds every summer!), spend more time writing, and keep the house clean for long stretches at a time. The rest of the summer was that much better, because we really appreciated the time we had together after being apart.

My son just turned 18, but he’s been traveling on his own for the last couple of years, because he’s had so much experience navigating airports, customs, baggage, etc. (and he’s mature and responsible for his age, and male, which I have to admit makes him less of a target traveling alone). He’s become a savvy traveler, fluent in Spanish, and has an interest in going into the hospitality industry someday.

Hawaii sounds like a great place to start for M to spend more time away from you. There’s still a phone connection, there are no borders to cross, and she’ll have people she knows and likes taking good care of her. Having been there myself, I’m confident she’ll be so busy and engaged that she won’t have time to be homesick. (And honestly, even if she is, it’s not the worst thing in the world.) I know kids who were never allowed to be separated for more than a night or two from their parents, and they had a very hard time with natural separation as they got older. I always wonder if their “homesickness” was really their own idea or if it was something they took on from their parents.


MindyMom July 28, 2009 at 8:13 am

Sounds like an amazing opportunity for your daughter! I’d let her go – she’ll have a great time. And if you ever get an opportunity to get away like that without her – take it! It’s good for both of you.


John F July 28, 2009 at 8:09 am

Pack sunscreen–give that kid a cell phone and tell her to have a blast!

What a perfect time for you and lucky dude to…well get lucky!

You know these people, you trust these people, and at some point you will need to let her go.

Whenever I have the chance, I will let my kids go pretty much anywhere safe.

BUT, make sure you send her with a MINOR CONSENT LETTER found here. Also the packing list is pretty good too if I say so myself!


Avigail74 July 28, 2009 at 7:56 am

Ahem…Rachel…my dear friend Rachel…it’s only seven days. She will survive seven days. I promise you, she will not starve. I promise you, there will be moments when she’ll miss you and feel homsick (momentarily). I promise you, she’ll have a fabulous time (I know you have great, trustworthy friends in your life) and I promise you, you will feel strange and empty the first few days–and then you’ll learn how to entertain yourself–and then your child will be back in your arms. I also promise you this, seven days fly really quickly.

How do I know this? I started flying alone when I was five to my grandparents who treated my like a queen. Yes, I missed my mom at times, but for the most part, I LOVED their constant devotion (M will be doted on more than usual because she is with both grandparents and they will feel an extra responsibility to keep her safe and sound). And, even though I missed my mom at times, I always couldn’t wait to see them again.

My child, as you know, has been flying on her own since she was six. She is very proud of that–and yes, people have told me that she has missed me but nevertheless, she tells me that she wants to go back.

It’s good for you and M.


Linsey July 28, 2009 at 7:27 am

When I was 13 or 14, I was invited by the parents of a friend to go with them to LA for an awards show — the mom was a VP for the company that hosted the awards show. This meant 4-5 days away from my parents… spending a few days in Dallas & then flying to LA with my friend & her family for 2 days.

Going on this trip was AWESOME for me… in fact, it helped me decide what I wanted to major in when I went to college.

My vote = let her go! PLEASE MOM!!


bad mummy July 28, 2009 at 7:10 am

Do it. Some space is good for the both of you. She’s approaching tween-hood and will be looking for independence from you.

The Mook is with me every other week. When she is with her dad, she’s just a phone call or 20-minute drive away. That’s been our routine since she was not quite two and I think it has helped her become very adaptable. In fact, the only time she wants her dad when she’s with me is because I’ve said ‘no’ to something.

You may want to send something special with her. A new stuffie that smells of you, or even a t-shirt of yours pulled over a pillow that will be handy for sleeping. You could even assign her a ‘mission’ to do while away, like taking pics of a fav stuffie in various settings. I did this with an Eeyore stuffie of the Mook’s and compiled an album of the pics – Eeyore at the Space Needle, Eeyore at the beach, Eeyore sharing my ice cream 😉

As for you missing her…it will be hard, but you’ll survive. And this has to happen some time. Better now than when she leaves for college!


Solo-Dad July 28, 2009 at 6:32 am

This would be tough for me as well. LE is 13 and still I have trouble letting him go for more than a few days at a time.

It could be good for the both of you; M gets to experience a vacation in safe hands in an idyllic setting. You get some time alone.

If you let have a solid homesick/momsick plan in place for both of you. A minimum of daily calls via cell phone at the same time each day with full-permission to call at any time (make sure the grandparents are informed of this and understand the issue and they’re not just paying you lip-service with a ‘Don’t worry, she’ll be fine.’).

Heart-wrenching time, I know. It won’t be easy, so if you let her go, be prepared on both fronts.


judy July 28, 2009 at 6:10 am

Here’s a voice of experience from a mom of a high schooler. I was a doting crazy mom until I realized it was me stifling her and she wanted to go any where w/o me. I changed my thought process to believe it is my responsibility to give her as many opps. possible. Every time something came up (of course safe and w/responsible people) that she was interested in I let her go and I stayed home.

In 6th grade she was asked to be part of a leadership program in DC YIKES on the plane alone from hotels with unknowns.. we survived and she has kept all her photos, note books etc from that trip.

New twist this summer now that she is in a summer camp as a CIT and can only come home for 1 24 hour period each week, I took a 2 week vaca to the east coast. She was anxious…”But you are always there even when I leave. It seems weird. You should be waiting at home for me.”

I am thrilled she is a confident kid who seeks new experiences in safe ways. I wish I had left her alone more as a kiddo but all is well.



Dido July 28, 2009 at 1:56 am

oh my, that’s a biggie.
so glad i won’t have to decide about something similar in quite some time – my boy is not yet four…
(i am leaving on a week-long girls-only vacation myself soon, but the LO will be staying with my parents, and his dad will be helping, so there’s nothing to worry about there, as he’s staying home basically, with closest people.)
no words of wisdom here – but i’m very eager to read other comments on this!


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