Leaving the children behind while you and your significant other head off for a week filled with kid free moments and dinners at tables with real cloth napkins, tablecloths and maybe even a vase full of flowers can be both an exciting and daunting event.
When my husband and I decided to celebrate our 10th anniversary in Hawaii, we had only left the kids for two nights at a time — short weekend jaunts just a few hours away. Our trip to Hawaii would involve several flights and an entire day of travel. If we had to return quickly, it would be an ordeal and that is assuming that we could catch the three flights back home in a timely manner. To say that we were both giddy with excitement and wracked with nerves is an understatement.
Sometimes it is hard to give up control and be satisfied that although they may not do things the same way you would, you chose your child’s caregiver because you trust them. Preparing to leave the kids can be stressful whether it is the first or tenth time. There is a lot to think about but, with a little bit of preparation, the time that you are gone can go very smoothly for both you and the children! Here are my firsthand tips:
Create a schedule of events. How detailed your kids’ itinerary is will depend on who you are leaving the children with when you go on vacation. I left my children with their grandparents who live out of town. I was probably way too detailed in my daily schedule for the kids but I didn’t want to leave anything out. I had them scheduled down to the minute. I included where the activity takes place, what time they should get ready or leave, and the schedule also included what the kids needed to bring with them. Leaving specific times for activities like school, soccer or dance may be enough if your caregiver is more involved in the daily routine or your kids are older.
Leave an insurance card at home. Make sure you leave an insurance card behind so that if something happens, your caregiver has it. You will want to make sure it is in a handy spot with the medical release form.
Sign and notarize a medical release form. A quick search on the Internet will give you scores of medical release form templates. Choose one that fits best for you and your family. Fill it out and have it notarized. Put it somewhere handy so that if there is an emergency, they can grab what they need quickly.
Create a list of important phone numbers. On our phone number list, we included numbers to doctors, hospitals, schools, neighbors, and friends. It might have been overkill to list as many numbers as I did, but I wanted to make sure they had everything they could possibly need!
Add your caregiver’s name to the school pickup cards. Even if your children are bus riders, you will want to make sure your caregiver can pick up the kids from school, preschool or daycare. You never know when someone might get sick and you want your caregiver to be able to pick up the children.
Print off maps, directions, and/or addresses. Leave a list with addresses to the soccer field, school and any other place that they might go while you are gone. The GPS is a fabulous invention but, at least in my area, many of the spots don’t show up properly and you are lead in the wrong direction! I also left a list of some of the kids’ favorite restaurants, playgrounds, and attractions.
Leave behind a fun present for the kids or bring them a souvenir. This is certainly not necessary but it is fun for both you and the kids. Because we were gone over Halloween, we shopped the dollar bins and picked up stickers, Halloween socks, and a few other things. I put one trinket in a brown paper bag for each day. The kids loved opening the gifts each morning and talked about it for weeks after we got home.
I put all of the information into a binder so it was all in one place if the grandparents needed to grab it quickly. I know that this seems like a lot of information to compile. Did the grandparents need all of it? Probably not, but I felt better knowing that we were prepared.
Your children will have their own vacation while you are gone so try to relax and enjoy your trip!