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Leaving family behind...guilt? How did you manage saying goodbye?

Jeanne F

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
none
#1
Hello Pilgrims!
My name is Jeanne and my friend Marci and I are setting out on the Camino in May. Our kids are tween to teen age. They are very supportive of us leaving but, this being our first Camino, we are concerned about leaving for such an extended period of time. We are celebrating our 50th birthdays and have been planning this trip for over a year, we booked flights so now it's real! We will be gone for about 5 1/2 weeks. Do any of you have any stories or words of guidance? How did you prepare? What happened while you were gone? Any support is welcome!
 

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davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#2
Hello Pilgrims!
My name is Jeanne and my friend Marci and I are setting out on the Camino in May. Our kids are tween to teen age. They are very supportive of us leaving but, this being our first Camino, we are concerned about leaving for such an extended period of time. We are celebrating our 50th birthdays and have been planning this trip for over a year, we booked flights so now it's real! We will be gone for about 5 1/2 weeks. Do any of you have any stories or words of guidance? How did you prepare? What happened while you were gone? Any support is welcome!
How exciting for you two. And a big welcome to the forum :)

If your kids are otherwise ok, they will be just fine while you travel. This is a very temporary parting, not a permanent separation. I can bet that a big part of your preparation for Camino was to make arrangements with caring people to provide supervision and support for your children; that means that you can relax and trust your arrangements for them.

You will have lots of times where you can text, call, email, Skype, or FaceTime with your kids. It is amazing how uplifitng it is to see and talk to your loved ones with Skype or FaceTime. Sometimes the wifi isn't suitable for either, but I found that just doing an audible-only FaceTime worked when the full on FaceTime didn't.

Additionally, get a map of the Camino that you are following, hang it on the wall, and have your kids use push-pins to track where you end up every day. Have a copy of a good guidebook for them to read information about the city or village you are staying in (Brierly's and Wise Pilgrim are a couple, there are lots of others), and text them a description of what your walking day was like and where you are spending the night (this is also a good way to keep a blog of your Camino).

Send pictures with your texts. And have your kids send pictures to you. have your care providers take pictures of any school or sports activities your kids are involved in and email or text them to you. If you use a Cloud based service, like Google Photos, it is very easy to pass a lot of pictures back and forth when you get connected to wifi.

If you find something meaningful that your children would like as a souvenir, buy it. And prior to your return home, mail any souvenirs and tokens and other stuff home. That makes clearing customs a bit faster, especially if you are from the US and are part of the Global Entry program.

I have a feeling that your kids will enjoy their short time apart; it is, after all, an adventure for them as well. Both you and your children will gain more confidence in each others resiliency and resolve.

For a map, Ivar's store has a nice one:
https://www.santiagodecompostela.me/products/camino-de-santiago-map-for-wall

This is one that I also gave to my grandkids to follow me along:
http://www.omnimap.com/catalog/access/rr-spain.htm It is the one labled 'raised relief'.
 
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amorfati1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014_Caminho Portuguese (Lisboa to Santiago_4 weeks in May)
#3
something to look forward to for sure ... great idea to spend a birthday walking with a friend.
and if you manage ... chuck out that guilt. highly useless emotion (different from remorse, i dare say). guilt does not accomplish anything.
and....
stuff will happen if you are there or if you are gone. (the "what if's" are another brand of time and nerves wasters)
and you are not walking the camino against them ... rather: for you. it will enrich you ... (ideally) and as a consequence, will benefit them as well.
ask them what their wish-souvenir is (provided it does not weigh a ton or costs a kings ransom) - and you will get it for them.
or perhaps offer special prayers you can say/feel on their behalf at places of their choosing. with candles? flowers?
that way they somewhat participate as well.
(aside from cheering you on of course)
endless options :)
enjoy the planning - sans overthinking. Buen camino! C
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
2018: 'Via Lemovicensis or maybe Via Francigena, again....
#4
Hello Pilgrims!
My name is Jeanne and my friend Marci and I are setting out on the Camino in May. Our kids are tween to teen age. They are very supportive of us leaving but, this being our first Camino, we are concerned about leaving for such an extended period of time. We are celebrating our 50th birthdays and have been planning this trip for over a year, we booked flights so now it's real! We will be gone for about 5 1/2 weeks. Do any of you have any stories or words of guidance? How did you prepare? What happened while you were gone? Any support is welcome!
Hello Jeanne and welcome to the forum! Well done for making it happen, that's the very hardest part I think!
I don't have any words of wisdom, I still find it hard leaving my family for
four to six weeks... (Once it was for much longer :confused:).
I'm sure you've made arrangements for your children... Do expect the odd phone call though (I did once, in an albergue at midnight ! One of my sons wanted to know where my bank card was (or his Dad's) as he had an emergency - ie he had lost his card! :rolleyes::D)
They'll be fine managing without you even if it takes a few days adjusting....
My children (the youngest one was 19 and had been at Uni for a year when I gathered up the courage to go) took bets between themselves and found it hilarious ...'Maman? Walking? On her own? She'll never get past the Pyrenees lol'.
They only told me when I came back...
They'll look at you with different eyes ... It will do you - and them - good.
Have faith, make sure they can keep in touch with you (or especially someone else near by) if there is an emergency... Nowadays with phones, wifi available everywhere etc you are never really far away.
All the best and buen camino :) And above all, enjoy, you are only ever 50 once ;):)
 

hel&scott

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 Seville - Finestere, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
#5
Some very good advice above.

Over the years our kids have got used to us disappearing from time to time, and yes the first time was hard (they were similar ages to yours), but once we had the arrangements for their care while we were away sorted, we had to have confidence in that we had brought them up with good values and common sense and accept that while we were away they may make make the odd mistake but the had the skills and support to learn and grow from it. And they did.

One bi product of our travels away was that we actually got closer to our emerging adult children, my daughter said once that in my absence she soon discovered just how much we did for her and while she had been champing at the bit be a grown up, she really liked being "mothered" and wasn't ready to give it up. Our time apart helped us both come to term with the shift in our relationship, mother and dependent child, to adults who appreciated each other.

Now that our kids have all grown and left home (they are in their 30s) they have all travelled widely and our old atlas is crammed with postcards from all our wayward paths.

Have a great adventure, your kids will too.
 

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HedaP

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances starting SJPdP Sept/Oct 2015, April/May 2017
#6
You can buy a prepaid Spanish sim card. I got a Vodaphone one for 15€ in Pamplona. It lasted 28 days and gave me 50 minutes of local or international calls plus 2 GB of data. It can be recharged at any reasonable sized supermarket for another 28 days or earlier if you need more data. There are plenty of other providers like Orange, Lebara, etc. Have a very buen camino and happy birthdays!
 

Bogong

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
First, March 2014
#7
(Thinking back to our kids at the age)

Rejoice! Leave with a sense of relief! Just as your kids will feel. Don't look back after you say "goodbye" - you may see them skipping away!

Five and a half weeks? it may take you at least that long to clean your places up when you get back!

De colores

Bogong
 

Juspassinthrough

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, May-June (2017)
Ingles-Finisterre (2018)
#8
Think of the example you’re setting for them. Think of the tales to tell. Think about how joyous your reunion will be. Think about how long it’s been since you could spend some quality time on yourself. Mom, it will be Okay says this Dad. Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
June(2017) by bike. SJPP to Santiago
#10
Hello Pilgrims!
My name is Jeanne and my friend Marci and I are setting out on the Camino in May. Our kids are tween to teen age. They are very supportive of us leaving but, this being our first Camino, we are concerned about leaving for such an extended period of time. We are celebrating our 50th birthdays and have been planning this trip for over a year, we booked flights so now it's real! We will be gone for about 5 1/2 weeks. Do any of you have any stories or words of guidance? How did you prepare? What happened while you were gone? Any support is welcome!
Jeanne,
Believe that everything will be alright. With today's technology, they will travel along with you if you so desire.
Staying away from parents makes children mature.
And from what you tell , they are very empathic with the journey and understand the importance of this moment.
Go walk! Go to The Camino! Your Camino!
 

Camino Chris

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#11
My first Camino in 2015 had me leaving me husband for 6 weeks. It was the first time in our many years of marriage to be apart for more than a week. I felt quite guilty, but he managed fine and as others have said, skype, hangouts, and daily emails and photos helped us stay connected. Our sons are adults, so no problem with that. In fact one of them accompanied me. Long distance hiking does not appeal to my husband and although he met me in Santiago this past spring, he has not caught the "bug". I'm just thankful I can go each year and he is gracious enough to allow me this indulgence with no guilt attached. I leave on my 4th Camino this coming June!
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016)
Future (God-willing): Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo (2018)
#12
What happened when I left my kids home? One of them learnt to drive - eeeek!
The next time I left, we sent the current 16-year-old to India before we left:)

Much harder was heading to Spain with some of the kids, Daddy bringing some more up after three weeks, walking together for a few weeks and then Daddy leaving to go home while the rest of us kept walking. Oh my, THAT was hard. There were even tears. For three days from one son!!! There they are, Daddy with the four kids having their final goodbye - the bus is waiting for him, the last passenger, to board: Camino 2014 2014-05-29 007.JPG

When Daddy and I went alone to Portugal to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary the kids all had a ball! win-win
 

Camino Chris

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#13
What happened when I left my kids home? One of them learnt to drive - eeeek!
The next time I left, we sent the current 16-year-old to India before we left:)

Much harder was heading to Spain with some of the kids, Daddy bringing some more up after three weeks, walking together for a few weeks and then Daddy leaving to go home while the rest of us kept walking. Oh my, THAT was hard. There were even tears. For three days from one son!!! There they are, Daddy with the four kids having their final goodbye - the bus is waiting for him, the last passenger, to board: View attachment 36821

When Daddy and I went alone to Portugal to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary the kids all had a ball! win-win
Wow, you are truly "Super Woman"! My hat's off to you. I cannot imagine the planning you had to do to juggle all the kids, equipment, flights, meals, snacks, beds, etc.etc. I'm weary just thinking about it. :eek:
You have how many kids? 5, 6, 7, 8?
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: 2013, 2014
Madrid: 2016
Portuguese: 2015, 2017
Voluntario: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
#14
All of the above posts provide excellent advice and suggestions. I have but one to add. Along the Camino, you will likely see something of souvenir value or otherwise of interest to one or more of the kids at home. You might even find things that you want.

If you buy these gift items as you encounter them, you end up carrying the increasing extra weight across the remainder of your Camino. More than the added weight and volume, you run the risk of damage or loss along the way.

My suggestion to add to all of the other really good ideas above is to mail stuff 'down the road' to Ivar at Santiago. You might plan on mailing from the large towns or cities, where you are most likely to accumulate "stuff." If the two of you combine your purchases into one parcel, you can save further.

Simply follow the instructions here in the forum, under "Services in Santiago by Ivar." He will send you a text or e-mail to let you know that he received your parcel(s).

On arrival, contact Ivar to coordinate pickup. His charges are reasonable. The Correos (post office) offers a similar service. But, in my experience, Ivar is far more flexible and accommodating.

The Spanish post office (Correos) is very inexpensive and fast, at least for mailing from a Spanish locale to another within Spain. I WOULD NOT recommend mailing things home from Europe. If you live in North America, the cost will exceed the value of the contents. Also, it takes a long time, and you have little recourse if something goes missing enroute.

In a related matter, if you arrive at Santiago and find that your purchases do not fit in your available luggage and rucksack, buy another bag. Simply find the nearest Oriental Bazaar, or China Bazaar, and buy an inexpensive duffle bag or rolling suitcase, large enough for your purpose. These shops are unique and offer all kinds of eclectic things. They exist in most all large towns and cities. Santiago has several. Secure the zips with a nylon wire tie to check the bag, or pack so you can carry it on.

I hope this helps.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
CF - April/May 2017
CP - Sept./2017
C? - Soon, I hope!
#15
Congrats! What better way is there to instill in your kids to be strong, brave, take responsibility for themselves, get along, be confident and curious travellers and pursue their dreams and goals unless they see you doing the same thing? - Somethings are better caught than taught. Bravo! Suggestion - perhaps get FaceTime or Skype video app for your phone and use it occasionally to show them what you are seeing along the trail - just suck it up and pay for the data if needed (and there will likely be wifi at every hostel). In our family, we also had the "Life360" app on our phones so the family could see on a map where I was in Spain and how I was progressing over the month.

The time away may be valuable for the tweens and teens too. I think my kids may have learned and grown from my month on the trail. The key for my time away from the family was that my wife was 100% supportive and encouraging that I pursue something I have talked about for 10 years and I didn't just say "someday I'll do that". "Tomorrow may never come, for all we know" (Nat King Cole)

When do you go? Report back once you get home.
 

Camino Chris

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#17
8. Eleven years between the first and last. Taking just four was a holiday;-)
I'd wager to bet you have the record for the highest number of immediate family members walking the Camino at one time, and I'm including the Spaniards! Way to go! :):D:)
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016)
Future (God-willing): Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo (2018)
#18
I'd wager to bet you have the record for the highest number of immediate family members walking the Camino at one time, and I'm including the Spaniards! Way to go! :):D:)
Quite possibly - especially our first time when we walked with all eight and Grandpa! We were frequently asked for our large family card - of course we didn’t have one and we were not cheeky enough to say “Feel free to give us the discount, you can see we are a big family”.
Now apologies - this thread has got off track.
 

DoubleD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept/Oct 2017
#20
I just got back from the camino on Sunday. We left our 16 and 18 year old boys home....alone. :eek:

Unfortunately, we weren't able to do the full camino...but were gone 18 days. I made them both join facebook, and I said I'd do an update once a day on how we were doing with a few pics. Turns out, one of the boys never even looked, and the other looked every few days. meh.

We have family that lives nearby, and friends of the boys that drive also. We basically did a day-by-day summary of what each of them had, and listed if they were getting a ride by who, or transit.

We felt guilty leaving them alone for that long, but it was a great learning experience for them. They had to set their own alarms! They had to get groceries. They had to communicate with each other as to who was where and who fed the dog etc.

We got home and found milk in the fridge that expired 16 days prior. Ha.

With that said, I think we learned more than the kids did...in that, they're fully capable of doing a lot more than we thought. :)
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016)
Future (God-willing): Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo (2018)
#21
I’ve been thinking about the original question and have an observation to make. The hardest thing for me about going and doing something exciting with only part of the family is the way the anticipation is “dampened" somewhat out of respect for those who are staying behind. Likewise you don’t relive the experience as much afterwards because it was not shared with everyone.
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
2018: 'Via Lemovicensis or maybe Via Francigena, again....
#22
I’ve been thinking about the original question and have an observation to make. The hardest thing for me about going and doing something exciting with only part of the family is the way the anticipation is “dampened somewhat out of respect for those who are staying behind. Likewise you don’t relive the experience as much afterwards because it was not shared with everyone.
Spot on!
 

Jeanne F

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
none
#23
Hello Pilgrims!
My name is Jeanne and my friend Marci and I are setting out on the Camino in May. Our kids are tween to teen age. They are very supportive of us leaving but, this being our first Camino, we are concerned about leaving for such an extended period of time. We are celebrating our 50th birthdays and have been planning this trip for over a year, we booked flights so now it's real! We will be gone for about 5 1/2 weeks. Do any of you have any stories or words of guidance? How did you prepare? What happened while you were gone? Any support is welcome!
Tha
I just got back from the camino on Sunday. We left our 16 and 18 year old boys home....alone. :eek:

Unfortunately, we weren't able to do the full camino...but were gone 18 days. I made them both join facebook, and I said I'd do an update once a day on how we were doing with a few pics. Turns out, one of the boys never even looked, and the other looked every few days. meh.

We have family that lives nearby, and friends of the boys that drive also. We basically did a day-by-day summary of what each of them had, and listed if they were getting a ride by who, or transit.

We felt guilty leaving them alone for that long, but it was a great learning experience for them. They had to set their own alarms! They had to get groceries. They had to communicate with each other as to who was where and who fed the dog etc.

We got home and found milk in the fridge that expired 16 days prior. Ha.

With that said, I think we learned more than the kids did...in that, they're fully capable of doing a lot more than we thought. :)
Congrats! What better way is there to instill in your kids to be strong, brave, take responsibility for themselves, get along, be confident and curious travellers and pursue their dreams and goals unless they see you doing the same thing? - Somethings are better caught than taught. Bravo! Suggestion - perhaps get FaceTime or Skype video app for your phone and use it occasionally to show them what you are seeing along the trail - just suck it up and pay for the data if needed (and there will likely be wifi at every hostel). In our family, we also had the "Life360" app on our phones so the family could see on a map where I was in Spain and how I was progressing over the month.

The time away may be valuable for the tweens and teens too. I think my kids may have learned and grown from my month on the trail. The key for my time away from the family was that my wife was 100% supportive and encouraging that I pursue something I have talked about for 10 years and I didn't just say "someday I'll do that". "Tomorrow may never come, for all we know" (Nat King Cole)

When do you go? Report back once you get home.
We leave on April 25. I am filled with excitement and I'm so inspired by what you and others have said. Thank you.
 

Jeanne F

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
none
#24
I just got back from the camino on Sunday. We left our 16 and 18 year old boys home....alone. :eek:

Unfortunately, we weren't able to do the full camino...but were gone 18 days. I made them both join facebook, and I said I'd do an update once a day on how we were doing with a few pics. Turns out, one of the boys never even looked, and the other looked every few days. meh.

We have family that lives nearby, and friends of the boys that drive also. We basically did a day-by-day summary of what each of them had, and listed if they were getting a ride by who, or transit.

We felt guilty leaving them alone for that long, but it was a great learning experience for them. They had to set their own alarms! They had to get groceries. They had to communicate with each other as to who was where and who fed the dog etc.

We got home and found milk in the fridge that expired 16 days prior. Ha.

With that said, I think we learned more than the kids did...in that, they're fully capable of doing a lot more than we thought. :)
Wow!!
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
#25
Where we live early morning was our communication time,
When we went on our first one there were no bookings ahead , Skype etc so it was hard,
In later years when the rug- rats appeared , HRH really missed her kids kids , as you do when the blisters, sores, sprains , hangovers, colds and hunger occur ,
But one morning when feeling sorry for herself after a wet day one of the older ones said the following,
"Small spoon of concrete Grandma and harden up"
Everyone and I mean everyone , including many pilgrims could not stop laughing ,
The calls back to her boys became less frequent from then on .
Enjoy he walk mate and on your return plan the kids trip to follow your footsteps.
Have a great Camino Jeanne
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago de compestella 2018
#26
Jeanne
I am just the wrong side of the big 5-0 and also planning my first Camino in May, leaving behind my two teens. I was originally planning to walk alone but having mentioned it to a friend, she is super-keen to join me and I am grateful for the company. ( I’d have done it alone but having a keen companion sounds great) I’ve also been struggling a little with the motherly guilt and seriously considered putting it off until September when the youngest will have finished secondary school. However, I’ve ‘bitten the bullet’ and had the conversation at work so an early May start is now a reality. I will do my best to leave the guilt at home! After all, having been a mother for 32 years and putting everyone else first is the whole point of going - to do something that I said ultimately just for me! Maybe I’ll see you out there! Buen Camino!
 

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