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How to manage that first trip away from your little one
It’s summertime, so don’t feel guilty about a night away (or five…) from your baby. Trust us, it’s important to get away to take care of yourself and your relationship. We know it is easier said than done, but there are a million reasons to make this a priority. One, it gives you a good night sleep (what?) and two, it shows you that your baby is going to be just fine. The key is to make sure things are buttoned up while you are away. Print out this handy checklist to ensure you’ve covered all your bases before you check out.
Medical and emergency information:
- List of emergency phone numbers
- Your contact info—both parents’ cell numbers and the address/phone number of the place where you are staying
- Pediatrician, family dentist, and after-hours numbers
- Neighbor, local family member, or other backup contact—just in case
- List of your kids’ medical information
- Medications (including tips you use to make sure your kiddo to actually takes it!)
- Current weights and/or dosages
- When to give medications (times of day or specific instances, like “when fever is over 100 degrees”)
- Medical “release”
- Write a simple letter that gives the caregiver permission to make medical decisions and receive your children’s health information in case of emergency. Sign and date it
- Insurance card
Typical daily schedule:
- Wake time, nap times and typical durations, bedtime
- Meal and snack times
- Any scheduled activities
- Meal prep
- For babies new to solids, make note of which types of food you typically offer (fruits, veggies, cereal, puffs, teething biscuits) and how much (half a jar, a few spoonfuls, a small handful)
- Stock the fridge and pantry with favorite snacks and go-to meal options
- Plan some easy meals (freezer meals are always a good idea!)
- Leave a few takeout menus and make note of your kids’ usual order, and no judgment if they eat pizza every night you’re gone: it’s hard to plan that far ahead when you’re both working and sleep deprived. (Besides, 5-year-olds love pizza. They will be fine!)
- Bottle prep
- Leave instructions detailing how to thaw, store, pour, and warm breastmilk
- If your feeding routine includes formula, including the appropriate ratio of water to formula
- Include guidance on when to toss leftover milk and how to clean bottles
- Provide tips and tricks for feeding baby (positioning, burping, etc)
- Tried-and-true tips for getting babies and younger kids to go to sleep, stop crying, etc.
- Special routines
- Comfort objects
- How you handle wake-ups, bad dreams, and other issues
- Any songs, stories, or silly faces that never fail to produce a smile
- How to safely buckle your child in the car seat, high chair, stroller and other baby gear
- For babies, a reminder that “back is best” for sleep and that nothing but a fitted sheet should be in the crib
- Identify foods to avoid, such as honey before baby’s first birthday—or anything that you don’t feel comfortable being fed to your baby while you’re gone, like common allergens or possible choking hazards
Where to find things:
- Note the location of extra diapers and wipes, towels, sheets, bottles, and any other go-to items
- Identify where you store the stroller (and how to open and collapse it!), baby carrier, outdoor toys, and other occasional-use items
- Depending on the time of year, label where you keep season-specific gear like the car seat cover, snow jacket, rain boots, swimsuit, or sunscreen
Fun: Remember, your kids may feel like it’s a mini vacation for them too—time with an energetic babysitter or uncles or aunts or grandparents is an exciting change!
- Things to do and places to go
- Note your baby’s at-home playtime spots, like a play mat, jumparoo, exersaucer, swing, in front of a mirror, or looking out a window
- Suggest a few fun activities, either ones you usually do or special places to visit—parks, play spaces, community events, classes
- Special treats
- Pick out a new book for your caregiver to read to your little one. Touch-and-feel books or interactive books with flaps are usually a big hit with babies
- Leave behind a fun CD of family-favorite baby songs and nursery rhymes
- Write a few sweet notes, or pick up a few new toys or games (check out Target’s Dollar Spot or the Dollar Store) especially from you to your little one. Your caregiver can pass them along to the kids if they’re missing you or when they need something fun to do.
- Fun can be free: a night to stay up late and play movie theater will be a blast for bigger kids – remember this is an opportunity to create memories for them as well as you!
Next, we’ll tackle what you need to maximize your vacation recreation with minimal stress. Life—especially life with kids—gets crazy, and time away from the daily to-dos and routines provides an essential restorative reset button. For couples with kids, time away is especially important: it gives you time to focus on yourself and your partner so you can both come back feeling refreshed. Here are some tips to follow to make sure you both truly reconnect and relax:
- Ask the caregiver for updates, but only as many or few as you need to feel reassured, not annoyed or anxious. A quick text or photo can be nice, but you don’t need to know every little detail. Remember, this is your break from mom life! Pro tip: don’t use FaceTime if you think it will upset or confuse your child.
- Avoid talking about the kids or day-to-day logistics with your partner. Kid talk isn’t totally off the table, but make it a point to mix up your usual conversation topics. Ask each other about your interests, your life plans, funny stories and friends. Play games! Laugh! Go on dates! Make the most of your time together.
- Try something new or different. Go on an adventure, eat a new-to-you food, dare each other to do something fun.
- Revisit happy memories. Remind yourself of all those amazing things that make your relationship so great. Do something romantic you used to enjoy pre-kids or revisit a meaningful spot from early in your relationship.
- Touch each other. Hold hands. Cuddle. Flirt. Make out like teenagers.
- Do what makes you feel relaxed, whether that’s sleeping, exercise, good food and wine, exploring your destination or being outdoors. There’s no right or wrong way to unwind.
- Don’t be a slave to the clock or the phone. Time and technology will be there when you come home from vacation, so take a break from it all while you can.
- Sleep! We all know sleep is precious for parents, so sleep late, take naps, and stockpile some much-needed rest.
- Prepare for re-entry to reality. Arriving home to dirty laundry and an empty fridge is rough. Order groceries or takeout on the way home, and lower your expectations for the first days home. Your house and your life might be a little louder, busier, and less clean, but you’ll get back on track. Try to hold onto that blissful vacation vibe as you return to everyday life.
Kid-free trips are so important for parents to spend quality couple time together and hit the reset button. Do the important prep before you go, then enjoy every moment of your time away. You deserve it!