How to cope when your kid goes on a school residential trip

Being a mum to school-aged kids means that at some point you'll be faced with residential trips. Your kids will want to take an overnight trip with their school and you have to let them. It's one of the difficult things during the parenting journey, you have to learn to let go - usually before you're ready. And then of course there's helping your son/daughter cope with the trip too. As LP is about to go on his first week-long residential trip I thought I'd put a few tips together for coping when your kid goes on a school residential trip.

How To Cope When Your Kid Goes On A School Residential Trip | Your kid is about to go on a residential trip with school...

Helping them cope with the school residential trip

As a mum your first thought is always for your kids, which means when it comes to residential trips you want to make sure they can cope with being away from you. Whether it's just an overnight trip or a week-long excursion you need to know they can cope before you can even start to be okay with it yourself.

How to help them

  • Talk to them about the trip. Whether you have nervous kids or your son or daughter can't wait to go there are going to be things they're either worried or concerned about. Discuss their worries - make them feel better about going away. Chat about the different things they'll be doing, how they'll be with their school friends, and their teachers will be there if they have a problem. 

  • Get them excited. Talk about the new opportunities they'll find, perhaps they'll get to go in a canoe or maybe even rock climbing. Help them see how exciting the trip will be, how they'll get to experience new things and maybe even find something they can continue at home as a hobby. Tell them it's a chance for them to be a little more grown up, they can show you how responsible they can be by going on a trip and having a wonderful time. Make sure to talk about all the wonderful things that can happen on a residential trip - like being able to stay up late chatting to friends! 

How To Cope When Your Kid Goes On A School Residential Trip | Help them see it will be fun for them.

  • Plan for them to be bored. No matter how many exciting opportunities the teachers have planned there's always going to be times when they could get bored - the coach trip for example. Make sure you, and they, have thought about what they might do when they get bored. That could be an activity book, it could be a handheld console (if they're allowed to take them), or it could be a book. If you plan for them to be bored you know they'll have something to turn to, rather than thinking about how worried they are about the trip.

  • Don't pack anything they'd miss if it got lost. As much as you want them to take something that will comfort them if they're worried, you really don't want them to take a loved teddy bear or something extremely sentimental. The chances are whatever they take could get lost, and if it's something they'll miss it could increase stress rather than help ease it. On LP's last residential trip he lost a teddy bear, because he let someone else use it. Thankfully it wasn't a teddy bear he was particularly fond of so we didn't mind when it wasn't returned - but as a mum it was annoying to find out it was missing. If they really want to take something help them choose something they like but wouldn't stress them if they lost it.

  • Write thoughtful notes for each day. I was reading an article recently from Working Mother entitled 10 touching ways moms make being away easier on their kids and while it wasn't exactly what I was after I did like the Mommy Mail idea. This one is great if your kids are feeling a little worried about the school residential trip. Write them little notes they can open at the start of every day - you could make them sentimental, or inspirational, but it either way it could help them cope. Giving them something to show you're still thinking about them could make them feel better about being away. It's also something exciting for each day that they could look forward to.

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.

Andre Gide

By helping your kid feel good about going on a school residential trip you can help yourself too, especially if you're worried about them going away. 

How you can cope with your kid going on a school residential trip

Despite already going through it once with BP, as LP gets ready to go on a residential trip I still find myself worrying. It's not that I don't want him to go, I guess it's just a mum's job to worry. I don't like the idea he'll be far away from home and I won't be there if something happens. But I do know that he'll be with people he knows and people who have a responsibility to make sure he's safe. 

How To Cope When Your Kid Goes On A School Residential Trip | They'll have fun with friends, and you'll be fine...

There are a few things you can do to help yourself cope when your son/daughter goes on a residential trip...

  • Be organised before they go. Spend the week before they go organising their clothes, toys, and bits and pieces, so you're sure they have everything they might need. You're not expected to fill a huge suitcase but making sure they're prepared will help you feel better. Include them in the preparations so they can see where everything goes and what you're including. Talk to them about the trip while you're packing, and as they get excited you may start to feel a little better about them going.

  • Plan for an easy few days. This is for you - the last thing you want is to give yourself more things to worry about when you're already stressing about your kid being away from home. Whether they're away for a week or just overnight give yourself a break. Don't stress about getting the dishes done or the washing mountain - it can wait until you're all back to normal. With LP being away for 5 days I'll be planning to take a little time for me to relax. There'll be no school runs, there'll be no play dates. So I can concentrate on me - why not try it?

How To Cope When Your Kid Goes On A School Residential Trip | Sit and drink a hot coffee, maybe even read a book!

  • Organise your week/day. If your kids are on the school residential trip for a week why not plan some things in for you. Perhaps a day shopping, or head to the spa. You could arrange a catch up with friends, or visit family. For us Hubby starts a new job the day after LP goes on his school residential trip so it's all a bit different - but it will give me a chance to get used to a quiet house. As LP grows up (he's almost in Year 6) he wants more independence and I need to get used to that. Being in a house that is suddenly quiet will help me get used to it.

  • Distraction is key. I've written before - back when BP went on his first residential trip - about how I distracted myself when he was away. This time will be no different. I'll dive into my blogging, I'll get housework done, I'll watch my favourite movies and TV shows. I will do all I can to not think about my youngest being away from home - because if I think about it for too long I may cry! Worry will seep in and I'll make myself ill - so distraction will be the word of the week.

  • Focus on self-care. It's a stressful time, so focussing on taking care of yourself may help. Take a shower in a morning, put on make-up, maybe even have a hot coffee and read a book! Whatever it is you like to do to take care of yourself, make time for it while your kid is on their school residential trip. By taking time for you you're easing the stress - and that's got to be a good thing!

School residential trips are a big step for both you and your kids, but by taking steps to make it easier on all of you it will be a lot less stressful. The worry will always be there, you're a mum after all, but you can take steps to ease it, and that will help you function. And when they return from their trip and talk to you about all the amazing things they did you'll wonder why you worried in the first place.

Don't listen to what they say. Go see.

To get another perspective head over to Dad Blog UK to read John's story and check out what other people have to say about preparing your child for their first residential school trip.

How To Cope When Your Kid Goes On A School Residential Trip | Tips to help them and YOU cope when they're away.

What tactics will you use when your kid goes on a school residential trip?

Grab my list of 24 ways you can spend your alone time - it may help distract you from your worry!