If you follow me on social media you would know a couple of days back, I had mentioned about my daughter’s first overnight school trip. The children were obviously excited and the moms… Yes, you guessed it right – extremely ‘anxious’. My what’s app was flooded with numerous messages. As I saw over 200 messages on my daughter’s school what’s app group I guessed it was mom’s sharing their apprehensions and worries. It happens, its natural. We are moms, we will worry about our child’s well- being. Particularly so in current times when we hear about incidents where child security is compromised.
The group of kids travelling are 7- 8 years old, third graders. It is just right now that they have become a bit independent. They can’t be on their own, but being a part of this trip is completely voluntary. It isn’t a school field trip; it’s a pleasure trip so there isn’t compulsion to send kids on this trip but since kids are excited they have forced the parent to allow them.
So, a new what’s app group has been formed by the parents to share relevant information while kids are on the trip and provide each other support. That was the reason I had joined the group.
But when I read those over 200 messages with nothing too relevant apart from moms discussing only their worries, I was surprised. I was very calm and had not freaked out worrying about the entire trip. Suddenly I started questioning myself, Am I a normal mom? Or do I not care enough for my child? Why am I not feeling anxious or worried about my child?
On introspection I realized that there are two reasons of me not being worried.
- It’s not my daughter’s first trip without me. Last year she had taken her first flight alone to Goa from Mumbai. My parents received her on the airport and she went vacationing with my paternal family for a week. So, I knew my daughter can stay without me.
- I was not such a confident child myself but had been on my trekking trips from school when I was in class 5. I went on my first 3 – day trekking trip when I was in grade 5. When me being a shy and a fearful girl can attempt that and enjoy the trip I was sure my child would too.
I decided to exit the group and asked one of my friend whose daughter was going on the trip let me know if anything important is discussed on the group.
But that also prompted me to write this post and share my views.
I genuinely felt that once you have decided to send your child on the trip please relax. You have already decided, being tensed and apprehensive and thinking negatively is not going to help you.
So here are my thoughts on How to keep cool when your child is away from you for the first time.
- Be mentally prepared: The Day will eventually come when your child will express the need to be independent and not need you for everything. Be mentally prepared for it. Rather raise your child to be independent. You can’t protect them all the time and you need to empower them to learn to protect themselves. Don’t hold on to your child. Let them be free. This will help you relax a bit.
- Be equipped with all the details: Collect relevant details pertaining to transportation, itinerary, accommodation. Discuss with the school the specifics of overnight trip organized by them. Ask the school for information about the number of teachers, nurse and helpers travelling with the kids. Tag all the belongings of the child. Fill in the registration form for the trip with due diligence so you do not write down incorrect information. This will assure that the school has relevant personal information in place if they wish to contact you in case of any emergency. And most importantly, teach your child to carry the school identity card at all time on the trip. Mostly, the school stays in contact with the PTA member while on overnight trips, so make sure you have the members phone numbers.
- Do not transfer your anxieties to your child: It’s your first time but it’s theirs too. Thus, I insist that you do not freak out in front of the child. Once you have all the information and you know that they will be safe, you should hide your fears and anxieties in front of the child and worry in private. Overnight trip is a very important developmental moment for the child. I believe a parent ruins it completely by worrying in front of the child. While the child is excited to travel, just encourage them. In case if its a pleasure trip, its voluntary so a child who isn’t confident enough to stay away from parents will not demand to be on the trip. But if it’s mandatory and part of the school curriculum then you will have to positively motivate them. Kids seek confidence from parents. They are observing, and you need to show the correct attitude. They look for reassurance from you. They will look for that confidence in your eyes and through your words.You need to tell them, ‘I am sure you will manage’. ‘You will enjoy a lot along- with your friends.’ You need to know and accept that there will be minor ups and downs. You need to prepare them to manage without you.
I feel when the child stays away from the parent for his first overnight trip it is a realization and self- learning for the child that he can be on his own.
Children should get the message that you want them to be free from anxieties and you like that they are now becoming independent. Celebrate their independence and that see the results.
Has your child been on an overnight trip? Do share your experience in comments. Also let me know if you found this post helpful.
Coming up next in the series – my daughter’s account on her experience from the trip.
See you, until then
Featured Image Courtesy: Pixabay