This time next week I’ll be in Port Morseby, Papua New Guinea, getting ready to head out on the road, delivering Christmas shoeboxes filled with presents to the children of Papua New Guinea. For those who aren’t aware, Operation Christmas Child is part of the work of Samaritan’s Purse and they spread Christmas cheer to children who otherwise probably wouldn’t receive a gift. I’m pretty excited about the idea of seeing the children receive their presents. I know it means a lot to them to think that somebody in a distant country cares about them enough to send them a special box full of presents. It sounds like a cliché, but I know it will be a life-changing experience. I’m just slightly concerned about leaving Birdy for five whole days!
I’ve never really gone anywhere without her. I left her overnight with a babysitter once for our wedding anniversary but we were back home by 8am the next day. Just the other day when we had The Voyage of the Dawntreader preview screening for work, Birdy had a sleepover at my sister’s house. Now I must admit I quite enjoyed having a night out without her, but when I got back home the house seemed strangely empty. And when I woke up, there was nobody squashing me off the edge of the bed. Normally I go to sleep in the usual way, lying on my half of the bed, but when I wake up Birdy has crawled over the top of me, sandwiched herself in between Mum and Dad in the wee hours of the morning, and I’m like a seagull perched on the edge of a cliff, about to fall off, with Birdy sticking her legs and arms into my back at all sorts of impossible angles as if she’s trying to give me acupuncture. I don’t know how I’m going to sleep without my early morning torture session.
I think she’ll be fine. If she does miss me at all, it will probably be at bedtime, because we always cuddle up in bed and read 4 or 5 stories together. It’s our special little time at the end of the day. But I don’t think she’ll miss me too much because she’ll have an army of people looking after her. My husband will be there (when he’s not working), my sister’s coming down to stay, my parents are helping out for a bit and then there’s her other Aunty and Uncle and cousins who live nearby. So she won’t be deprived of TLC. And as long as she manages to stay out of hospital for five days, I probably won’t be too worried about her. I thought I might try to leave her a little letter to open every day while I’m away so she knows I’m thinking of her. I’ve also got to figure out how to get my phone to do international roaming. I don’t think I could go for five days without at least sending a kiss and a cuddle down the phone!
Have you ever gone away without your kids? What’s the longest period of time you’ve left them for? How did you cope? How did they cope? Are you glad you did it? Do you have any ideas to help make the separation go more smoothly?
PS. I won’t be able to blog from PNG, but I’m sure I’ll have lots to write about when I get back!
I saw a status update on Facebook that amused me recently. My sister-in-law (Aly) described how her 3 year old climbed into their bed in the early hours of the morning and they grudgingly allowed her in. After lying still for about a minute she started bouncing around. They told her to keep still and she said, “But I’m a froggy. I want to hop, hop, hop like a frog.” So her Dad said, “We don’t want any frogs in our bed. No more froggy jumps please.” After a short pause a little voice piped up, “Can I leap like a deer?”
I can relate to this story, especially lately. Last night I said to Birdy, “Night, night, mind the bed bugs don’t bite.” And she said, “Well if they do, I will just crawl into your bed!’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I bet you will.” I think because the weather’s been so cold, a certain little person keeps turning up in our room at about 4 am. And I must say it’s quite convenient because it’s a lot warmer if she curls up with us than if I have to go and settle her in her bedroom!
We’ve come full circle on this one, but it’s partly an age thing. When Birdy was little we had a rule that she couldn’t come into Mummy and Daddy’s bed until the birds were singing. This was mainly because she’d wriggle and squirm so much that none of us would get any sleep. I was pretty firm about it, because I thought that if she came into our bed I’d never get her out again. But there was one day a few months ago when neither my husband or I noticed that she’d got into bed with us until we woke up and found her asleep between us in the morning. And I thought, well if it’s not disturbing anyone, then what’s the problem? So now we let her stay there as long as she doesn’t start doing the cha-cha in the middle of the night.
Last week on my radio show I interviewed Rozanna Lilley from the Children and Families Research Centre at Macquarie Uni about the way children and families sleep around the world. Her point is that in most cultures, some form of co-sleeping is the norm. Not necessarily bed-sharing, but sleeping together, rather than expecting infants to sleep alone. The idea that children have problems sleeping is a relatively recent phenomenon in western cultures, and it may be that our expectations of children have changed, rather than that their sleeping has become worse. To hear the full interview click here.
Anyway, we actually quite enjoy it when Birdy comes to snuggle up with us. So far she hasn’t vomited or wee’d in our bed, though I’m sure the day is coming. Obviously I might feel differently if I had four kids, but with just one, she’s actually quite a good hot water bottle. I’m sure I’ll have second thoughts about it when summer rolls around though!
Do your kids climb into bed with you? What time of morning is OK? Do you let them sleep in your bed, or is it strictly a kid-free zone? What rules do you have to make sure everyone gets a good night’s sleep, or as good as possible?