My least favorite part of any visit to my grandchildren is the goodbye. Darn it all. No matter how long we’ve stayed or how soon we’ll return, I hate those end-of-visit hugs and kisses. I can’t help but feel jealous of grandparents who have their grands in town and a goodbye truly just means “see you later.”
Over the almost ten years of saying goodbye to my out-of-town grandchildren, I have discovered some methods that help:
- We let the grandkids know we’ll be leaving. It’s healthy for all children to understand the visit will come to an end. With toddlers or pre-schoolers, throughout the visit we talk about our home and where we live. As departure day nears, we casually mention we’re going back home on Sunday or whenever.
- Let little ones help us pack. It seems to us that toddlers and preschoolers understand “leaving” a bit more if they see our items going in the suitcase. As we pack, we tell them the suitcases will go on the plane and then we will take them to our house.
- Pick a good time to leave, if possible. If you have some departure flexibility, ask the grandkids’ parents what is the best time to leave.
- The kids see us leave. Driving or flying, my husband and I schedule our departure while the kids are awake. No sneaking away in the night. We — and the grandkids’ parents agree — the kids need to know and see us going. After all, if we just disappear in the night, could the same thing happen with their parents?!? If we have a red-eye flight, we still leave while the kids are awake and then just kill time at the airport until our flight.
- Make the goodbye itself fairly quick. We don’t rush out but we don’t linger. We figure it’s sort of like tearing the bandage. If the kids cry (which often happens), nothing will soothe them so we might as well leave, not prolong their sorrow, and get them to the drying-the-eyes stage faster.
- I try not to cry in front of the kids. I usually manage to achieve this, although on the day of departure, I sneak into the bathroom a few times and have a “power cry,” trying to get it out of my system. But in front of the grandkids, I tell them that I’ll miss them and that I’m sad about leaving, but usually I manage to postpone my tears. I admit that the minute the Uber car pulls away from the house, I cry buckets. “I just have to cry,” I’ll tell the driver and he or she says, “You go right ahead.”
A memory: When the oldest grandkids were around 4 or 5 years old, they started crying at our departure. So on one visit, as the end of the trip neared, I said to them light-heartedly, “When Gram and Grandpa leave tomorrow, let’s not do any wah-wah-wah! You don’t cry and I don’t cry okay?” We got silly doing the “wah-wah-wah” sounds and sure enough when departure came, we started laughing and doing wah-wah-wahs and no one cried! Alas, this didn’t work the second time I tried it. But since it kind-of-sort-of helps sometime so I still attempt it.
How do you say goodbye? Share your wisdom in the Comments section below.
My other articles about visiting grandkids include:
- Selecting the best dates for your visit.
- Why renting an apartment makes sense.
- Babysitting tips for out-of-town grandparents.
- Sharing wishes for your visit.
- The importance of visiting out-of-town grandkids.
- Honor the house rules when visiting.