If you’re planning a solo parent trip (or the trip is planned for you by a loved one’s nuptials, celebration or death) you probably started out thinking it might be kind of nice to travel sans little ones. Just you and your sweetie. Sip some wine, maybe go dancing. Rekindle your romance. Ahhhh. But… then reality sinks in and you freak out because you’re about to leave your babies behind and what if no one else can care for them like you and what if they get hurt while you’re gone and what if you die in a horrible fiery crash leaving sad, lonely orphans behind?!?! Breathe. Just breathe. While everyone’s situation is a little different in regards to who and how their children will be cared for, there are some basic things we can all do to remove (some of) the stress for us, our kids and our caretakers.
Plan it. Get a solid itinerary so you know exact departure and arrival times. If you’re flying, secure your tickets and your ride to and from the airport. Get your passports out if needed and put them both in your purse. It’s now off your list.
Baggage. (the good kind). Pack YOUR bags. Get yourself straight so you don’t end up in an awful goodwill dress at your cousin’s champagne and gold wedding. (Side note: I’m not knocking thrift store shopping. I adore it. But anyone who shops thrifty will tell you that you’re not likely to find exactly what you want in one hasty trip!)
Now on to the kid/kiddos/littles/babies
This is a bit more work….
- Write down junior’s recreation schedule- team practices/games etc.
- Also include a daily schedule if you have a napper or a special needs babe who will be happier sticking to a routine. You know it by heart, but not everyone will.
- Are there special things that soothe him or her? Write them down. Too much information when it comes to kids is never going to happen.
If there are any medical or dental appointments scheduled during your absence, if they can wait, reschedule those for when you are back. It’ll just be one fewer thing for your sitters to worry about.
Play house. Who is going to be the Mom? Think this through. Grandparents are so much fun, but will they tire after too many days chasing kiddos? Be sure to keep your caregivers’ health in mind too. Whether there will be several family members or just one friend, you’ll want the best fit possible for everyone. If it’s more than one person, make a schedule which includes who will be caring for the kids each day and contact information if they don’t have each other’s. (Snap a picture of this on your phone so you’ll have it handy once you’re gone.)
Finally a use for the rolling suitcase they HAD to have! Pack for the kids. Don’t stress over this. They will survive without clean clothes. If you have anyone in diapers, be sure to include far too many diapers and wipes. These will be handier than perfectly put-together outfits. Remember to include any sports equipment and uniforms, and any favorite blankies.
Spreadsheets complete me.
- Type up a list of all your kids’ doctors along with full addresses and phone numbers. Write down their school name and address, start/end time, teacher’s name and grade, and bus number and pick up/drop off times.
- Call these places and inform them you will be gone and your kids’ decisions can be handled by their sitter. The offices might want you to come fill out and sign paperwork for this, or they may be a little more lax.
- On this form, include your child’s full legal name, birthdate, SS number, height, weight, hair and eye color. (Sounds a little overboard, but in an emergency, this won’t be second nature to a grandparent like it is to you!)
- Copy your insurance card(s).
- If there are any daily medications, list them here. Also list doses for otc drugs like Tylenol or Motrin.(Again, second nature to you but not them.)
- Put any and all medications in a ziplock along with a copy of this information.
Adulting. If you don’t have a will, get one. Nothing can be worse for a family than to be torn apart by death and then have a fight start over caring for kids. It’s not going to happen to you- but you’re planning this trip out completely, so GET A WILL.
Fess up. If your kids are little, but old enough to understand, explain to them about your trip and how exciting it will be for them to stay with their sitter. Read books about travel if you have time. Spend some time together with them and the caregiver before leaving (if possible).
If you have bigger kids, I’d suggest using bribery to get them to be on their best behavior and help out.
(I’m joking. Or am I?)
Magician’s tears. Now it’s time to go. Give hugs, kisses, I love yous and thank yous. And then walk out the door, guilt-free. Ask any babysitter or daycare worker- we’ve seen it a million times: no matter the heartbroken sobs you witness, the kids will be perfectly happy once you’re gone, while you may be sad and full of guilt for days!
Leavin’ on a jet plane! (You sang that, didn’t you?) That’s it. Go. Enjoy your trip. Be an adult. Be a couple. Be YOU before kids, but with the bonus of sweet little voices and faces saying goodnight over the phone/FaceTime/skype each night.
Choose souvenirs for the kids. The tiniest little thing will be so treasured and will help assuage your Mom guilt. (I know it’s still there).
Safe travels, lovelies!