The following post was written by the wonderfully talented Chelsea Stanley. Chelsea is the VP of Mommy Relations over here at Incredible Infant. Bask in her real-mom encouragements through her thoughtful articles..
Do you ever find yourself dreaming of a summer getaway?
Just think of the possibilities. You could…
- Relax on the beach.
- Read a whole book.
- Eat a meal in peace.
- Enjoy your husband without interruption.
Please girl, you could take a nap!
Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it?
I know what you’re thinking.
“Yes, it sounds lovely in theory…but I’m a mom. How on earth am I supposed to get away when there’s a tiny human being who relies on me for its every need?”
I hear you, mama. Leaving your baby behind can be completely overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
With the right plan and tools in place, you should be able to say “Hasta la vista, baby!” with minimal tears and maximum of peace of mind.
And because we’re friends, I’m going to let you in on seven of my very own tried and true tips so you can rest easy while you’re away. No need to to reinvent the wheel.
I’ve got you covered.
Not sure where to go on your getaway? This is Heather’s favorite place to start planning. Stay semi-local or fly away!
Getaway Tip #1:
The Grand Poohba of Babysitter Binders
I gave birth to this babysitter binder when my hubby and I decided that I would join him on a business conference in Texas and leave our two toddlers at home for five days (and coincidentally get pregnant with our third due in a few weeks…yeehaw!).
It was a hit with our sitters.
My mom and sister viewed it more as a list of guidelines they could refer to in a pinch.
My grandma read the entire thing cover to cover. She was blown away by how smoothly everything went when she “just followed the instructions.”
I’m now a binder believer, and I have a feeling you will be too after this trip.
If you don’t live near family, Care.com is a great place to find local, highly-qualified, and parent-reviewed babysitters. Start a search here.
First thing’s first, here’s what you’ll need to create the binder:
- A thin binder like this one
- A pack (or two) of dividers like these
- A 3-hole punch or sheet protectors with holes already punched like these
- A pencil pouch for holding bulky things that aren’t punch-possible – like cash for takeout and emergency, extra car and house keys, and an emergency back-up binky!
You’ll want to start working on this bad boy a few weeks out from your trip if at all possible. This will give you enough time to madly scribble down notes in the middle of the night as you remember them 😉
I recommend including a section for each of the following categories, along with a Table of Contents. Feel free to add or subtract info to meet your needs.
Babysitter Binder Tab #1: Emergency Info
The very first tab in your Babysitter Binder should be the Emergency Contact Information. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Your home address
- Garage/Security Code
- Mom’s cell #
- Dad’s cell #
- Hotel name and phone #
- Your flight/travel info
- 2-3 other emergency contacts in case you can’t be reached
- Babysitter names, phone numbers, and emails
- Hospital you would want your kids to go to in an emergency
- Pediatrician’s name and phone #
- Poison control
Babysitter Binder Tab #2: Insurance & Medical Info
- Copy of your health insurance card (front and back)
- Essential medical history
- List of prescriptions and dosage amounts
- Medical release form
Babysitter Binder Tab #3: Schedules & Routines
This tab would contain a weekly overview including who is babysitting each day/night and then any special activities (library story time, garbage day, etc).
It could also include your detailed daily routine. Don’t be overwhelmed by this! Here, I’ll even share mine:
Besides the daily routine, here are a few other routines you’ll want to write out.
- Walk through each step of your routine in detail (change diaper, PJs, book, special song, etc)
- Audio/video monitors instructions
- How to handle crying/waking
Personal Care & Bath Routines
- Bathtime Routine
- Teethbrushing (if your little one is old enough)
- The poop scoop (diapers, BM frequency, ointments to use, etc)
- Medicines or ointments
Babysitter Binder Tab #4: Meal Plan & Feeding Notes
Write out any bottle instructions like…
- Milk thawing/reheating instructions
- Formula instructions
- Quantity/frequency of bottles
- Burping, special holds, etc.
Think about the foods you’d like your kids to eat while you’re gone. Be realistic! If your baby won’t tolerate broccoli, don’t make Grandma try to force-feed him. 🙂
Write out suggestions for each meal. Here’s an example:
- Breakfast: frozen pancakes, sausage, bagels, english muffins with peanut butter, muffins (in the freezer), yogurt, fresh fruit cut up into small bite-size pieces, cereal, water to drink, NO EGGS!
If you’re struggling with this, eMeals has kid-friendly suggestions that are a zip to prepare and always include plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
Babysitter Binder Tab #5: House Notes
Give your helper a brief overview of the lay of the land:
- Where can they find clothes, diapers, linens, toiletries, first aid supplies, etc?
- What are the instructions to use TV or other techie gadgets?
- What is your Wifi password?
- What are the instructions to adjust your Thermostat?
- Where do you keep food, dishes, pots and pans, bibs, towels?
Do you have any specific instructions for your babysitter?
- Are there any foods in the freezer or pantry you’d like to be “off limits”?
- What are the takeout or delivery options?
- Where can they sleep?
- Which towels can they use?
- What are the house rules for having a friend over when your kids are sleeping? (Always specifically share your expectations, so there’s no chance of misunderstanding.)
Do you have any pets? Do you have any special instructions for their care while you are gone?
Babysitter Binder Tab #6: Other Family Notes
This section is perfect for those odds-and-ends instructions that don’t easily fit anywhere else.
How should she handle rules and discipline? (If your child is old enough, of course!)
- Explain timeouts or disciplinary action
How does your baby/toddler communicate?
- If your little one uses sign language, provide pictures of your most used signs
- If your tot is starting to talk, provide a list of phonetic pronunciations and their translations
- “Ah-bee” = Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (obviously!)
- “Snah” = Snack
What are your children’s likes/dislikes or funny quirks?
- List favorite books, toys, TV shows, songs, loveys
- Alert your sitter to any dislikes or odd little quirks. (Like how mine prefers to poop in private and will hide under the office desk to do his business.)
- Anything else you think is worth mentioning
Put it all together and whatdaya get? The Grand Poohba of all babysitter binders!
It takes a little time to put together, yes, but you will find it unbelievably reassuring that you didn’t forget anything. You won’t be the least bit worried that Grandma will forget to cover his eczema with Aquaphor after bathtime.
Getaway Tip #2:
Make Getting Dressed a Breeze
Confession: organization is not my strong suit.
So when it came to getting clothes ready for my own babies, I seriously became paralyzed by the idea of preparing five days of clothing for two kids.
Thankfully, Ziploc came to my rescue.
I simply figured out how many outfits and PJs I needed, along with any extras, and I stuffed them inside labeled Ziploc bags (Outfit #1, Outfit #2, PJs, Extra Outfit, Pants/Hoodies, etc).
It was the perfect solution for me because I could see exactly what I had, and the sitters loved it because they didn’t have to think too hard about dressing my kiddos.
It’s a super simple hack that will make preparing for your trip a whole lot easier.
Getaway Tip #3:
Build a First Aid Kit
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. You leave for your romantic weekend away, only to get that dreaded phone call telling you your baby is sick.
But here’s the thing. If it’s not a life-threatening illness or injury, your babysitter will probably be able to handle it, if they’ve been given the right tools.
Put your mind at ease with a first aid kit that includes the following items:
- A variety back of Bandaids
- Infant Tylenol (Acetaminophen) or Infant Motrin (Ibuprofen) with recommended dosage
- Prescriptions with dosage and instructions
- A clever way to easily give your baby medicine – like this special syringe
- An awesome nose sucker (I love this one!)
- Saline drops to keep the nose crusties away
- Antibiotic ointment to quickly heal boo-boos
- Hydrocortisone cream for any itchies
- Pedialyte in case there’s any vomitting and you need hydration help
- A reliably effective diaper rash ointment
- A rectal thermometer and vaseline
- Antiseptic wipes
- Baby Sunscreen (this is Heather’s Gold Star sunscreen)
- A baby-friendly ice pack like Boo Boo Zoo
Getaway Tip #4:
Be Prepared for an Emergency
- Fire extinguisher – Have a kitchen? Make sure you have one of these! (And that it’s not expired!)
- Flashlight with batteries
- Distilled water
- Extra formula or frozen breastmilk
- A fireproof safe with your important documents
- Packed diaper bag (see the next tip!)
- An emergency baby car kit
Getaway Tip #5:
Pack a Diaper bag
How many times have you left the house only to realize that you forgot to pack [insert your baby essential here] in the diaper bag?
It may have been a while since your sitter last packed a diaper bag…perhaps decades! Do her a favor and have a bag packed, along with a checklist of what’s inside for restocking purposes.
Here are a few suggestions to get you rollin’:
- Changing pad
- Snack cup and/or meal
- A large blanket (see Heather’s top blanket pick!)
- Extra outfit
- A travel-sized baby sunscreen
- Extra diaper rash cream
- Smart baby distractor toys, like this one
- A boardbook (You can’t go wrong with this one.)
Getaway Tip #6:
Leave a Set of Wheels
If you can swing it, make things easier for your sitter by leaving a car behind. Make sure that you have a safely installed car seat, that you leave the title, registration and proof of insurance in the glove compartment, and that you fill up the gas tank before you leave.
Getaway Tip #7:
Stock Up on Essentials
I don’t know about you, but I always run out of diapers and toilet paper at the most inopportune times.
To avoid a “spare a square” moment while you’re gone, make sure you stock up on the following items before you take off.
You don’t want to make your babysitter juggle the kids through the grocery store, so plan ahead and make sure you have plenty of…
- Diapers and wipes
- Clean bottles and dishes
- Fresh produce and perishables, lots of snack options!
- Frozen meals (if desired)
- Crib sheets and mattress pads
- Toiletries for baby and sitter
- Paper goods (no dishwashing!)
- Paper towels
- Toilet paper
Trust me, your sitter will thank you 😉
Feeling a little less overwhelmed by the prospect of leaving your munchkin behind?
Don’t worry, it’s normal to feel a little guilty before your first getaway.
But the truth is, you’ll be a better mom for it.
So make a plan, pack your bags, give that baby a smooch, and enjoy a few days of R&R.
You deserve it, mama.
Are you a first time mommy? What are you planning for your first getaway? Or maybe you’ve been around the mommy block…what gave you peace of mind when leaving your baby behind?
Meet Chelsea Stanley
Chelsea is the ultimate boy mom. Whenever she's in distress, she can count on her three little musketeers and their sidekick pup, Sir Duke, to come to her rescue. If the task is too great, her Prince Charming of a husband saves the day with a magical elixir called Diet Coke from underneath the Golden Arches. Get to know her and visit her blog, Daughter Redeemed.