A Parent’s Guide to Prepping for Vacation (Sans Kids)

A while back, I posted a piece on vacationing sans kids, so it is only fitting to post a guide to preparing for your trip or rather preparing for those you are leaving behind.  Packing for yourself is a big enough chore and if you are leaving the kids home (woo hoo), making sure everything runs smoothly for them or at least attempting to, is an even bigger chore.

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For those who have experienced the arranging, preparing, shopping, list making and laundry washing production that is required, you are well aware of how much work goes into it.  For those of you who have yet to leave your kids behind, listen up, because these tips will help you stay organized and somewhat sane while accomplishing the required tasks.

While our hubbys may throw a pair of shorts and a bathing suit in a suitcase five minutes before it’s time to head to the airport, we have been working hard well in advance before we can even think about getting excited for a trip.

Think about everything that goes into your child’s life in a week from ensuring their favorite yogurt is in the fridge, knowing to the minute, how long it takes to get out of the house in the morning to the color vitamins they prefer to avoid a meltdown before 8AM.  Now take all of that information and attempt to share it with someone whom you have chosen to care for your child.  Not an easy assignment.

magic folderMy point is that it’s a lot of particulars and not so easy to describe to someone else.  My suggestion?  Write it all down and keep everything in a folder.

The Meemas (my mother and my mother in law) think I am nuts every year when they are presented with “the folder”, the night before my husband and I head run to the airport.  It’s not about being anal or overly nervous but instead being prepared, thinking ahead and being smart.  My answer to every question the Meemas throw at me is, “it’s in the folder”.   That magic folder is a thing of beauty and I am always quite proud of it upon completion.

Okay, so let’s get started:

  • Medical authorization form:
    • What is this?  Well, in layman’s terms, you are giving consent to whomever is watching your child while you are away to authorize medical treatment.
    • You can create your own or use an online template, which there are many of to choose from.
    • You hope this form will never have to see the light of day but always better to be equipped if something happens.
  • Insurance card:
    • Things happen, kids break things and it is best for your child’s caretaker to be armed just in case.
    • If you have an extra insurance card, leave it.
    • If not, make a copy of both sides.
  • If going out of the country, make copies of your passport.
    • Things get lost or even stolen, so it is much easier to handle the situation when there is a copy back at home you can easily access.
    • Taking the extra 30 seconds to make this copy will save you hours on the replacement process, especially in a foreign country.
  • Notify your child’s school of your absence:
    • It is important you do this, so if the teacher is trying to get in touch with you or whomever is caring for your child, they can.
    • Make sure your caretaker’s e-mail will be added to any pertinent e-mails going out from the teacher the week you away, so your child doesn’t miss out on crazy sock day. 🙂
    • Your child may be sad while you are away and your teacher will be prepped to handle these emotions.
    • In your absence, provide the person’s name, number and e-mail that will be watching your child, as is most times required by the school anyway for security reasons.
  • Fill your child in on the schedule for the week:
    • Your child should know who is picking them up for school and who is dropping them off.
    • They should be prepared with any schedule changes that are out of the norm.
  • Ask three of your friends if they can be a resource for your caretaker:
    • It’s always good to have someone who is local, who knows your children and can offer assistance at any time.
    • Leave a key with one of your friends who lives nearby in case of an emergency.
    • Ask your friends to spy on your caretaker to ensure they are doing a good job. (Did I just write that?)
  • Create a daily syllabus for your caretaker:
    • This is very time consuming but absolutely worth it and necessary.
    • Your care taker will have a detailed schedule so they know what to expect and can plan ahead.
    • This will ensure they won’t be reaching out to you on vacation to ask a million questions.
    • Make sure to be very detailed, including medication or vitamins the kids get, what time they need to leave the house in the morning, your child’s favorite breakfast, after school activities, nap time schedules, a list of acceptable lunchbox items per child, etc.
    • While your child should know things may be a bit different from when you are there, the idea is to keep everything as normal as possible.
  • Write down all important phone numbers and addresses:
    • This should include your three friends, your pediatrician, dentist, preferred local hospital, school, etc.
    • It’s all about being prepared so if your care taker needs to reach out to any of the above listed quickly, time isn’t wasted figuring it all out.
  • Prepare little reminders for your children so they know you are thinking of them while you are away:
    • Create lunch box notes ahead of time and have your care taker put them in the lunch boxes.
    • Buy little presents ahead of time (99 cent store works well for this) that you know they will love and have your care taker give them out.
  • Stock the fridge:
    • The idea is to make it as easy as possible for the person watching your child.
    • This will be one less task your family/child care will have to worry about.
    • Think about all of the favorites and staples your kids go through in a week.
    • Purchase snacks and items your caretaker will also need and enjoy while watching your children.
  • Let your care taker know, especially if family, that you appreciate them and their help.
    • Remember without them, you would not be sitting in paradise right now.
    • Bring back something special from your trip for them.
    • A simple thank you goes a long way.
    • Keep their work to a minimum and rely on friends to pitch in as well, like having a friend take your child home from school one day.
  • Keep an open mind:
    • Realize that no one is going to replace you and do what you do on a daily basis.
    • As long as your children are breathing when you get home, your child care was a success.
    • Don’t criticize faults but instead praise successes.
    • Let go, be confident in your preparation and enjoy your trip!

Upon your return, you may will find out not every procedure noted in your folder was followed or executed properly, but if the kids are smiling and the house didn’t burn down, it’s all good.  The lesson is that there is more than one way to skin a cat (even though your way of course is the best way) and who knows, perhaps everyone will appreciate what you do every day a bit more.

Bon Voyage!

TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD!™