I'm Leaving My Kids! Why Does that Require More Work?

Family Travel on 05.17.11
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The last time my husband and I went away together for a night with no kids was March 1, 2008, but who's counting. Later that same month was the last time we took a vacation with our now almost five year old son who was not even two yet at the time. So you could say that I'm pretty darn excited to be going on vacation on Thursday for a full five nights sans kids even though we'll be spending 34 hours of it in the car driving to South Carolina. But in addition to trying to get all my work done before we leave and figuring out what the heck I'm going to pack for myself and even just wear to the wedding that we're headed to, I have to prepare lists and letters of just about everything my kids do every day so that my parents have everything at hand. Here's a list of things to do before you head off on vacation and leave the kids behind.

The Really Important Stuff

  • School Pick-up Authorization- Make sure your kids' school knows you are going away and who will be picking up the kids, and it needs to be in writing. Also, think about who your normal emergency contacts are for the kids and if they will be available. My sister and brother-in-law have authorization to pick up my children, but they'll be traveling with us so if for some reason something happened to prevent my parents from getting to school, I'm going to add one or two additional relatives who are authorized to pick up the kids. My kids will also be missing some school so that needs to go in the letter too.
  • Medical Release- Leave a medical release letter authorizing the caregivers to seek medical attention for your children in case of illness or emergencies.
  • Info Cards- It's a good idea to make up a little index card with your kids' information, such as current weight, drug allergies, and birth date because even if the caregivers knows it, sometimes in an emergency those things fly right out of the memory.
  • Will- We hate to think of this, but if you don't already have a will, there's no time like the present to get one, and I have to ashamedly admit that I still don't have one. But even if you can't get one pulled together before you leave, it's a good idea to put down your wishes and stick them in an envelope including who you would want to take care of your children, who you request to be in charge of your estate, burial wishes, where your important documents are, and anything else you would want your loved ones to know should the worst happen.

The Stuff that Will Make Your Babysitters Want to Come Back

  • Important Numbers List- Put all the important names, numbers, and addresses of people like your children's doctor and school in one easily accessible place. While you may have their card on the fridge or stuck to a bulletin board and probably on speed dial on your phone too, it's much easier for your trusted caregiver to have it all in one place.
  • Schedule- We tend to just go about our daily business, but do you know how much of that schedule is just ingrained in us and would not be obvious to someone else? Without going overboard with planning every minute, create a schedule as to when your child has music classes or sports, where they are, and what they need to bring with them. Pack the bag of anything they need like a swimsuit and towel in advance so that's one less thing for the caregiver to have to worry about finding.
  • Technology Directions- Beyond turning the television on, you would think my mother had never touched an electronic device in her life even though she has a computer and a Blackberry. There is some sort of wall she puts up when she sees a new device. We'll be leaving written directions on how to use the DVD players and how to get to my son's favorite games on the computer as well as turning on my daughter's bed time music. And even though she'll probably still call with questions, we might get fewer calls.
  • The Giant List of Quirkiness- Kids, toddlers in particular, have lots of little things they like done a certain way. My kids actually aren't so bad, but there are things like certain blankets my daughter likes to sleep with, what they like to eat in the morning, my son's dislike for any finger food such as raisins that make his hands sticky, the fact that my daughter will almost always insist on taking a bath before bed even when you don't want her to, and so on that will make my parents' life a bit easier if they know.

Of course, we will be available by phone the entire time we are gone so it's not like they won't be able to call us with quick questions, but all of these things should make the process a bit smoother. I'll also make sure the fridge is stocked with my kids' favorite foods, there are plenty of diapers, and I've been making a list of events happening around town that they may want to take the kids to such as a local Mayfair. The only thing I can't really do in advance for them is translate what my daughter is saying as no one understands her so for that they'll be on their own. I'm really not worried about any of it, but I want to make sure that I make it as easy as possible for my parents so that they'll come back and do it again!

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