Though the hubby and I have been fortunate to “get away” without baby several times in the last 20 months, it has only been for a day or two, and the trips have been relatively local. We have always loved to travel, and really value our alone time as a married couple. Plus, we always return to Bubba refreshed, and believe we are better parents because of it. So when my best friend announced her wedding plans: all-inclusive, adults-only, in Cancun–we knew it would be a stretch, but couldn’t miss it. Besides, I happened to be the Maid of Honor.
My parents were wonderful, and volunteered to take Bubba for the 4 days we’d be gone. For months we plotted the arrangement, and I even brought Bubs with me to spend the night at their house several times over the months leading up to the trip, so he would be comfortable there. As the trip grew closer, I started telling my year-and-a-half-old son: “Mommy and Daddy are going to go bye-bye for a few days, and you will stay with Grandpa, Nana, and the doggie…but don’t worry, we will come back. Grown-ups always come back.”
(Thank you, Daniel Tiger.)
Even if Bubba didn’t understand me completely, I believed hearing this again and again would provide comfort the morning we left for the airport.
Preparing for the trip
If you know me, you know I like to do my research. I looked into what most parents recommend preparing when leaving your child with a caretaker for a short time. Below is a list of documents I prepared for my parents. Although some of it is stuff they probably could have figured out, it gave me a sense of relief to know that they had this info at their fingertips.
1. Daily schedule/meal and snack ideas – It’s easier for the caretaker to plan out days and meals with this helpful info. We also brought key food items to my parents’ home, so they wouldn’t have to shop for specific things.
2. Medical information – a fact sheet with doctor’s name, office address and phone number, immunization and allergy info, etc.
3. Medical card (you can also just provide a copy)
4. Our travel information – Flight info, hotel info, and even an emergency contact in case they cannot reach us
5. Tips and tricks sheet – 1 page of pointers, key words/phrases and meanings, requests (hand washing before every meal, no more than 1.5 hours of TV per day, etc.)
6. Release form in case of emergency – I found a template online that I was comfortable with, and came up with a short and to-the-point letter stating the following:
My child, ______________, is under the care of____________. This person(s) has full rights in case of a medical or psychological or other emergency. If any questions, please contact me at (___) ___-____.
During the vacation, we thought of Bubba a lot, but still managed to have fun and relax. My parents were great about sending us updates (the resort had free wi-fi) and even video clips of the fun Bubs was having–especially with their Yellow Lab! All of this set our minds at ease, and freed us up to have fun and focus on each other and the wedding. One thing we decided on before leaving, was to NOT FaceTime, Skype, etc. with our son. We all agreed that it would be too confusing for him, and the last thing we wanted was to upset or scar our child. I highly recommend not calling or video chatting with your little ones while away, unless they are old enough to understand the situation. A few other tips:
- Familiarity is key – If LO is staying at another home during your vacation, pack-up his or her bedding and bring it with you. Use the exact fitted sheet, blankets, stuffed animal, etc. that baby slept on the last few nights leading to this visit. That way, the pack ‘n play/crib/toddler bed will have familiar smells.
- Try not to appear anxious or dramatic about saying “good-bye” to baby – Your LO feeds off your mood, and will most likely start reacting in a more emotional way if he or she sees Mommy doing that.
- Don’t sneak-out – I once read that the WORST way to leave your child in someone’s care, is to slip out without saying “bye.” Although watching baby cry and reach for you is hard…for YOU…it’s more emotionally damaging to leave baby wondering where you went. Plus, he or she may not trust that you won’t slip out again.
- Let go – Give the caretaker(s) space to create a routine, and ease up on the control. I am a very “Type A” gal, and I have only gotten worse as a mom. You must trust that this person or persons will care for your child properly, and step back from there. Leave your list or itinerary, be sure to emphasize the things that MUST be followed (allergy-related, etc.), and simply let go. It’s the only way to enjoy your trip.
We were delighted to hear that everything was “easier than expected” and Bubs did such a great job eating, sleeping, and behaving–dream come true! We were happy to see our boy, he seemed to be excited to see us, and we all got back to the routine…NOT. Don’t be surprised if it takes LO 1 or 2 weeks to get adjusted again. Bubs cried every time I put him down for naps or bed–like sleep training all over again. Today, 2 weeks later, he seems to be much better. He even reached for his crib last night! We look forward to our next vacation…Hawaii…this time with Bubba! Post coming soon…