I never would have wanted to or even thought to leave my two young kids for a whole week. It’s too soon… they are so little (especially Rogue who hadn’t even turned 1 yet). But then one fateful day my husband got a phone call from an old, good, friend. He was getting married and we were invited. Great! Except… the wedding was in Poland.
Poland!? That was far, especially from our new west coast, USA home. A wave of emotions came to me at once. I wanted to go… hubby wanted to bring the kids. While I didn’t like the idea of being away from them I knew that taking them to Poland, for a wedding, was a silly idea. This involved passports, an extra seat on six total flights, dealing with the kids being jet lagged, trying to find them all the things they needed… AND trying to enjoy the wedding (the whole reason we were going). I ruled out bringing the kids almost immediately. While it might be fun some of the time, it would also be a lot of work, and I knew that at their ages they wouldn’t even remember it. Long story short, after deciding I should go (rather than stay home with the kids), tickets were purchased and a plan was put in place. This was our plan… and it actually worked.
Step 1. Ask someone to watch them who you trust, and your kids know well.
This was top priority. Before you buy the tickets, before you even mentally commit to going without the kiddos, you gotta figure out a childcare plan that makes sense, and makes you and the kids feel comfortable. For us it was my parents; they have watched them many times on date nights, and have seen the kids about every few months. They were excited to have them, and Superman ( 3 years old) was excited to see his Nonna and Pop pop. (In our case we chose to have the kids stay at their grandparents’ house – but having them stay at our house would have been great too!)
Step 2. Prep the kids.
Talk about it. A lot. This is not the kind of thing you want to be a surprise. While Rogue wouldn’t really know much had changed except she hadn’t seen mom and dad in a while, Superman would miss us and it was important he understood what was happening. I bought this book, just to have something to initiate conversations about leaving. This book was great for it’s simplicity and flexibility to fit any situation. I could point at the characters and say “see mom and dad are saying bye-bye and that’s you staying with Nonna”!
Step 3. Don’t be afraid to ask that certain rules be enforced.
Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to ask someone (especially your own parents) to follow rules you have set out for your kids, especially when they are different from the way they brought you up, but at the end of the day you make theses choices out of your family’s best interest, and hopefully whoever is watching your kids respects those choices.
Step 4. Accept that some other rules (the less important ones) will get broken.
While big rules need to be followed, you need to relax about others. I left my kids in the hands of their doting grandparents, so I knew full well this would mean lots of walks to get ice cream and relaxed bedtimes. That’s ok, as long as the kids are happy and the caregivers are happy. The key here is survival and fun, so routines will be broken.
Step 5. Prep the caregivers.
Keep in mind that while they are probably so excited to watch your kids, they are also doing you a pretty big favor, so do everything you can to make this fun and not a burden. That means buying all the things your kids will need before you leave for the trip. It means offering to leave money for emergencies and offering to help plan activities. (They might not take you up on it but its polite to offer!) In terms of safety it is important that you leave the kids’ health insurance cards, pediatrician numbers and nearest preferred hospital info with the caregivers. Walk them through what to do in case of an emergency and make sure they know the run down on any medicine the kids might need. That being said this is not a trip to go off the grid for. Make sure your phone is on you and that you will be available if they need to call you for anything while you’re away!
Step 6. Don’t FaceTime unless the kids want/need to.
This was huge for us, and because of this idea we actually didn’t FaceTime or even speak with our kids the entire week we were gone. I’m not gonna lie, it was agony. I talked to my parents everyday, but if the kids were happy and didn’t ask to speak with us, my husband and I passed on the opportunity to speak to them.Why upset them just so I can talk to them? They were happy, they were maybe missing me but not in tears, why FaceTime and potentially send them over the edge to meltdown city if I didn’t have to? So I sucked it up and settled for getting videos from my parents instead.
Step 7. HAVE FUN and treat yo’ self!
Easier said than done, especially when you’re gone from your babies, but hey the reason you went on this trip was to have fun, right? So even though you will miss those little darlings don’t let it interfere with having a good time with your significant other. Go out, stay out late, sleep in late, wear earrings (this was a big treat because… no baby to pull them out of my ears!!!!!) and explore the city you are in. Live it up! We indulged in the amazing food, we drank froo froo drinks and we tried to seize the moment! You will remember this trip as a break to just be you again for a little while. Try as best you can to ignore that nagging voice that tells you you don’t deserve this break, because it’s LYING, I can promise you that. As long as your kids are safe and having fun without you, you deserve to have some fun of your own!
Step 8. Document the return trip as you go, add it to a shared folder or social media so older kids can track the trip home!
This was a cute little idea I had the day we left, whether our youngling appreciated it or not is unknown, but I certainly had fun making the videos and photos of my hubby and myself on our long route back home! The thought was Superman could then watch these throughout the day, having a new video or photo to see as we got closer to getting home. I bet this would be really fun with older kids!
Do you have any great tips for going on a trip without the kids? Share here!