When my husband said that his new job would take him to India for a few weeks…and that I could come along(!!!), I was ecstatic. We briefly entertained the idea of taking our 4.5 and 2-year-old sons with us but quickly decided that the 32 hour travel time and airfare expense were two really good reasons to leave them behind. Thankfully, we have an amazing support system, and our parents agreed to come to our house to watch the kids during our trip.
Preparing to leave your kids for an extended period of time can be nerve-wracking. Our kids are used to long weekends with their grandparents, so I wasn’t worried about them adjusting. (Who doesn’t want a week or two with Grandpa’s undivided attention!?) To prepare, I focused on the logistics of leaving all the information they might need easily accessible. Here’s my list of things to gather:
In Case of Emergency…
1. Compile medical info.
- Pediatrician name, number, and address
- Closest Urgent Care name, number, and address (for children and for adults, should your caretaker need medical attention)
- Preferred Hospital name, number, and address (for children and adults)
- Dentist name, number, and address (for children and adults)
If the person watching your kids needs to get themselves or your babies to a medical professional quickly, make it easy on them. My dad has a Garmin, and my MIL has a smartphone, but I printed out directions—just in case.
3. Leave insurance cards and a copy of your driver’s license.
Since I was relying on my passport, I just left my driver’s license with the health insurance card.
4. Leave preferred local contractor names and numbers.
Juuuust in case the heat goes out or a pipe bursts or some other calamity occurs to your house while you’re away. I left our local plumber and HVAC contractors’ names and numbers, as well as a friend who I would call if I needed a recommendation for a specfic job.
What to do when…
1. Provide a rough outline of your children’s day.
I started with a table and details, details, details (explained here) and pared it down to the necessities: who needs to be when and where—and when to feed the fish. You can go all out with helpful hints and advice (like this hilarious Scary Mommy), but I just left an outline of who, what, and where. My MIL and my dad both successfully raised children a few decades ago, and if they’re late to school one day, no one is going to really care.
2. Print maps of how to get where.
This again depends on your caretakers’ familiarity with your neighborhood. I left hard copies.
3. Make sure you update any school pick-up and emergency contact lists.
I let my kids’ teachers and the central office know who would be picking up my kids when and who I was adding as extra emergency contacts, should they need to reach someone.
How to reach you
1. Leave copies of your travel itineraries.
I didn’t expect my children to follow where we were and when, but planes crash—and if something were to happen to us, I wanted our caretaker to know our flight numbers and plans.
2. Leave details on how to reach you.
We weren’t sure if we were going to have access to a cell phone while we were gone, but we did know that we would have somewhat consistent access to the internet. We asked our parents to email us if needed. (You could also try Skype, Viber, or Google Voice depending on how tech savvy you and your caretakers are). We also left the name and number for our hotel; the name, number, and address of the contact we had in India; and the names of our traveling companions.
3. Leave copies of your identification.
I’ve already mentioned leaving a copy of your driver’s license, but I also left copies of our passports and our visa applications.
4. Leave a copy of your will.
If you have children and don’t have a will, take care of that now. (Need convincing? Check out our expert’s advice about estate planning.) If you’re intending to leave your children for an extended period of time while you traipse around the globe, you definitely need to make sure your affairs are in order and your caretaker knows how to access the documents should they be needed. Don’t want to be morbid, but you’ve got to be prepared.
Once the plane takes off—relax! You’ve left your children with wonderful caretakers and lots of support should they need it. Now, it’s your job to enjoy the wonders of the world!