How do you manage the tricky process of leaving your children? Whether you're just popping out to the shops for an hour on a weekend for some much-needed mummy time, or for a rare night out with friends or for - hallelujah - an overnight stay somewhere, what do you actually tell the children?
I ask because we left our boys with their auntie, uncle and cousins for two days and nights last weekend while we hot-footed it to London for a wedding (which was utterly fabulous thank you N & D x). While I can have an - almost - sensible conversation with my four-year-old about such trips away and explain where we are going, what we will be doing and who will be looking after him, it's a little less straightforward with the two-year-old.
You see, if I say to him that "mummy and daddy are going away for a couple of nights and will be back on Sunday", he will hear the words, "mummy is leaving and never coming back" and will be understandably very upset about this. He finds it mildly unacceptable if I leave the room without him, never mind leaving the house without him, so I usually tell him I am just popping out to get some milk. He likes milk. He likes milk a lot, so I think he finds this an acceptable reason for me to temporarily leave him. However, this is a lie most of the time and lying to my child makes me feel bad.
So, instead of telling him the truth last weekend, I told him that mummy and daddy were going out for a little while and would be back later. 'Back later' being a relative term. I decided not to mention anything about milk as a two day journey to fetch milk is clearly stretching the truth, even in the world of a two-year-old. So, we sneaked away while he was distracted with his cousin's train set and re-appeared just as magically two days later.
In any event, the sensible chat with my four-year-old turned out to be pretty futile as the first thing he said to me when we got back was, "Hello Mummy, you said you were only going to be a few minutes". He might just as well have said, "Hello Mummy. Welcome back to Guilts-ville. Population, you."
I just wonder what other 'departure tactics' anyone else uses which may be more effective than mine, less furtive or involve less blatant lies.