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Guilt Trip (when you’re off and they’re not)

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So the husband and I are off to Spain next weekend for a wedding without the kids – double ’Whoop! Whoop!’. To explain the excitement, we have not had a two-night-break, just us, for about four years. Seriously, four whole years… I have already booked the fake tan and the manicure, bought a new Heidi Klein bikini in the sale and planned what outfits I’m going to waft around the pool in (I like to think that I’ll ’waft’ but in fact I’ll probably just trudge around in a hungover state and hide in a heap in the shade). I am beyond excited; plus
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you can’t beat a good sangria-fuelled wedding with close friends…

But there is one major snag in the mini-break-of-a-lifetime scenario and it comes in the form of my four-year-old son. As soon as I told him that we were going away – and that he was having a sleepover with friends on the Friday and being looked after by his godmother and her two children on the Saturday – he totally freaked out. And since then he has sobbed and wailed – ’I don’t want you to leave me!’; ’Don’t go Mumma!’ [’Mumma’ gets me every time]; ’Why can’t Daddy go

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on his own?’ [uh, in his dreams…]. He has been howling at the thought of us going and pleading nonstop for us to stay. He has been waking up in the night screaming ’No! You’re not going!’ and clinging onto me like a love-sick sloth when I try to sneak off back to bed.

I did, admittedly, resort to bribes to see if it would help – ’If you’re good when we’re away, Mummy will buy you something really special!’. This, however, was a big mistake: my youngest said he wanted nothing, just us (and promptly burst into tears), and my eldest reeled

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off a long list of Mixels and Lego City (he wouldn’t care if we disappeared off for a month, so long as there’s something in it for him).

Annoyingly, I’m not one of those mothers who thinks ’Oh, it will be fine!’. I worry so much and know that I’ll be fretting about my boys the entire time we’re away. I just will. And it doesn’t help that my youngest started school recently, so his emotions are all over the place. I feel for him so much right now and anything that upsets him upsets me.

My husband, in total laid-back,

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what-will-be-will-be contrast, doesn’t get that guilt of going away and leaving your sproglets behind. He, guaranteed, will get to the airport, find the nearest bar and order a beer – ’They’re in good hands,’ he’ll say, ’What are you having – white or red?’. He’ll go straight into holiday mode just like that and won’t give the boys another thought.

And perhaps I should try to do the same. After all, maybe our littlest will be sobbing for two nights; maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll absolutely hate every minute we’re away; maybe he’ll have the

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best time ever. Who knows? I’ve got to stop worrying and start looking forward to a fun weekend – as a couple, without the kids. Because I might have to wait another four years until the next…
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- 8 Sep 16

So the husband and I are off to Spain next weekend for a wedding without the kids – double ‘Whoop! Whoop!’. To explain the excitement, we have not had a two-night-break, just us, for about four years. Seriously, four whole years… I have already booked the fake tan and the manicure, bought a new Heidi Klein bikini in the sale and planned what outfits I’m going to waft around the pool in (I like to think that I’ll ‘waft’ but in fact I’ll probably just trudge around in a hungover state and hide in a heap in the shade). I am beyond excited; plus you can’t beat a good sangria-fuelled wedding with close friends…

But there is one major snag in the mini-break-of-a-lifetime scenario and it comes in the form of my four-year-old son. As soon as I told him that we were going away – and that he was having a sleepover with friends on the Friday and being looked after by his godmother and her two children on the Saturday – he totally freaked out. And since then he has sobbed and wailed – ‘I don’t want you to leave me!’; ‘Don’t go Mumma!’ [‘Mumma’ gets me every time]; ‘Why can’t Daddy go on his own?’ [uh, in his dreams…]. He has been howling at the thought of us going and pleading nonstop for us to stay. He has been waking up in the night screaming ‘No! You’re not going!’ and clinging onto me like a love-sick sloth when I try to sneak off back to bed.

I did, admittedly, resort to bribes to see if it would help – ‘If you’re good when we’re away, Mummy will buy you something really special!’. This, however, was a big mistake: my youngest said he wanted nothing, just us (and promptly burst into tears), and my eldest reeled off a long list of Mixels and Lego City (he wouldn’t care if we disappeared off for a month, so long as there’s something in it for him).

Annoyingly, I’m not one of those mothers who thinks ‘Oh, it will be fine!’. I worry so much and know that I’ll be fretting about my boys the entire time we’re away. I just will. And it doesn’t help that my youngest started school recently, so his emotions are all over the place. I feel for him so much right now and anything that upsets him upsets me.

My husband, in total laid-back, what-will-be-will-be contrast, doesn’t get that guilt of going away and leaving your sproglets behind. He, guaranteed, will get to the airport, find the nearest bar and order a beer – ‘They’re in good hands,’ he’ll say, ‘What are you having – white or red?’. He’ll go straight into holiday mode just like that and won’t give the boys another thought.

And perhaps I should try to do the same. After all, maybe our littlest will be sobbing for two nights; maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll absolutely hate every minute we’re away; maybe he’ll have the best time ever. Who knows? I’ve got to stop worrying and start looking forward to a fun weekend – as a couple, without the kids. Because I might have to wait another four years until the next…

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Fiona Pennell lives in the Cotswolds with her husband and their two boys, Jack, 6, and Otto, 4. A former YOU magazine sub-editor, Fiona now spends her days being trampled on, going on slug hunts and dreaming of lie-ins. (Twitter: @fiona_pennell)

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