Pop Quiz: Husband Gone for two weeks?

Your husband is leaving town for two weeks to go river-rafting down the Grand Canyon with the guys. Do you:

  1. Support him in doing something he's always wanted to try, but then whine about how hard your life is to all your friends.
  2. Order in lots of pizza and Elmo videos and figure you'll muddle through somehow.
  3. Figure that living well is the best revenge and skip town with the kids for a week.

I realize that two weeks without their husband around isn't the toughest thing anyone has ever gone through. For moms with a husband in the Military, two weeks would seem like a snap-of-the finger. In other families one (or both) parents travel frequently for business, and of course countless single moms raise their children without another adult in the home to rely on.

Still, for me, two weeks without my husband's support is a long time. It is the longest he's ever been away from the kids and it is made tougher by the fact that he will be without cell-phone coverage for almost the entire trip. We have been together for so long that I'm not sure I know how to do everything around the house anymore. How does that thermostat work? Who is going to kick the router for me when our network goes down?

Without a doubt the kids are going to miss their dad too. Between the two of us, he's more playful and rambunctious, and the kids count on him to liven things up when I'm tired at the end of the day. E is especially close to his dad, so I know that it will be tough for him not to have him here. Dad is the person he runs to when he gets an "owie" or needs some extra comfort & daddy is the person he counts on to come up with the best projects.

To make matters worse, as a solo-parent I tend to get more practical and less affectionate. Getting through the bedtime routine for example, becomes a gauntlet to be run instead of a time to cuddle and talk about the day. The morning rush becomes more focused than ever.

I fully supported my husband's desire to go on this rafting trip. It's something he has wanted to do for a long time, and it will be years before the children are old enough to join in safely. When his friend proposed the trip as a 40th birthday party celebration, I knew we would figure out a way to make it work.

My challenge for this time was to figure out how to make this time with the kids special instead of a long, tiring ordeal, and I decided that getting out of town for a few days might break-up the my husband's long absence. The time in a new space should give the kids lots to focus on (besides how much they miss daddy) and help me focus on enjoying my time with them instead of our routine. Hopefully returning home will feel special too, and I'll be able to avoid the pizza-video rut or at least stave it off longer than usual.

I rallied the support of our babystitter (Fall quarter hasn't started yet) and my mom for this trip. The kids will love having so many people around, and I will appreciate all the extra support. In some ways, this will be the easiest trip I have taken in a while. I plan to spend the days with the kids (with the exception of an architecture tour that I want to be able to focus on). The babysitter will help me with the plane ride and watch the kids at night while I go out to dinner with my mom. My mom, of course, wants to spend as much time as possible with her grandchildren, so we'll plan some fun activities during the day.

I chose Chicago mostly because I have wanted to visit the city for years, and have never managed to find time to go during one of the "good weather months." I also chose it because my husband isn't particularly interested in going. His absence made it one-step easier to schedule the trip, and gave me an "upside" to having him out of town. There are tons of activities for both kids and adults in Chicago, so my challenge will be to try to select the outings we will most enjoy instead of trying to scare up enough creative ideas to keep the kids happy.

I'll be writing more about this trip over the next few days. Please check back to read about our experiences.

Related Links
Traveling with a Nanny or Babysitter
Traveling with Grandparents

 Subscribe to our feed

Subscribe by email:


  1. soultravelers3 on September 23, 2008 at 6:53 p.m.

    I think you are really making the best out of the situation. Good for you!

    Funny, but it is just out of the realm of possibilities for us, so I knew none of the answers would apply. We didn't find each other until almost 40 and neither of us cares to be apart from the other. In 17 years of marriage, I think we have been apart once over night and that was an emergency. Neither of us liked it.

    We are hardly ever apart from our child and she did not even stay over night at Grandma's until she was five! ( Her only night away from us).

    We would hate to be separated for two weeks under any circumstances, so just would not do it. But I think everyone and every family is different, so you need to do what works for you. Sounds like you have a great plan!

    Do find a local to give you a tour of the Jazz clubs in Chicago! I am not even a Jazz fan and will never forget my Jazz club crawl in Chicago...special.

  2. Debbie on September 23, 2008 at 10:26 p.m.

    Thanks for the note! You're right, life is full of compromises... I hate being away from my husband. I don't sleep well when he's not here & I love talking to him, being near him, and even sitting in the same room & sending him IMs when we're both too engrossed in our work for a real conversation, but need to communicate.

    It's even worse with the kids... it's almost physically painful to be away from them.

    That said, I'm a big believer in people getting to follow their dreams. Your family is so lucky to be able to travel together the way you do. With an open ended schedule, you don't need to trade off one person's idea of a good time against another. With this trip, there simply wasn't a way for our family to go together, and we both knew that my husband would regret passing up this opportunity. I always think it's such a shame when I talk to people whose lives are full of regrets for the things they gave up because of a spouse or child and neither one of us wants to create that situation.

    I'll write more about my trip over the next few days. It's gone well :)

  3. Meg on September 24, 2008 at 10:03 a.m.

    When my dad was traveling a lot for business, my mom got fed up at some point as started traveling with us while my dad was at some business conference. I would say the best was skiing in Austria one year. (Remember the days when the dollar was strong? It was cheaper to go on a Ski holiday in Europe than Colorado.) It must have been super tough for her - four kids, only one of us speaking any German, and a couple of really picky eaters. We were old enough (7-16) that she would send us off skiing for the day and she could relax. When we all returned to the drop off point in town, she would meet us at the bus stop and we would head out to dinner together. After dinner, we would all enjoy the indoor pool/hot tub/sauna at the hotel and fall fast asleep.
    I hope I don't get caught up in the helicopter parenting so much that I will send my daughter off for the day in a foreign country, alone and unsupervised as a young teenager.

  4. Debbie on September 24, 2008 at 2:27 p.m.

    What a great memory :) Thanks so much for sharing.

    I agree... It's hard to imagine the day that I'll let my kids out of my sight in Seattle, let alone in a city I'm not familiar with, but I hope I will recognize the time when it comes. It's a shame to send kids off to college with no real experience managing themselves.

  5. Ric Garrido on September 25, 2008 at 12:35 p.m.

    This page is an enjoyable read, particularly since this is my first day back after a week away from home. No kids, but my wife and two cats were out of sorts not having me home to care for them.

    Debbie - I can relate to getting to Chicago when you had the opportunity. Chicago is the one major US city I have never visited outside the airport. My wife has never had an interest to go there. I'd like to see the architecture and visit some nice hotels.

    I was talking to a friend yesterday who is planning a trip to London in November. She will be traveling with a 27-month girl. I will connect her with your site.

  6. RookieMom Whitney on September 27, 2008 at 9:52 a.m.

    I hope you shared notes with Amelia Sprout - she just did Chicago, too!

    I came looking for a new idea for San Diego for our yearly Grandcation. We followed your tips last year. Thinking of maybe a new destination that's convenient for three branches of the family who live in SF, LA and Minn. (Arizona, Colorado or CA seem best.)