Jess and I spent one week in Bora Bora celebrating our 5 year anniversary. It was an amazing trip – and we got to really relax because Baby M stayed at home with her grandparents. Still, I’d argue it was more stressful preparing to travel without her than with her. For any parents considering traveling without their infant, I thought I’d put together some of the things we did to prepare Baby M, her guardians, and ourselves before we left. Hopefully it’s helpful to some of you out there!
Here are some of the steps we took to get ready for the trip. I’ll talk about what we did, why we did it, and how we thought it worked out. Generally, we’re not great planners – but when it came to leaving Baby M, we did our best to cross our Is and dot our Ts.
1. Put the baby on the same schedule for the few weeks before travel and write it up for her guardians
Since Baby M is 13 months, she has been going through a lot of transitions – babies grow in spurts at this point (both physically and mentally). If we hadn’t been planning to go away, there are things we would have considered transitioning to her – a big example being her new carseat. But since we were going away, we wanted to introduce as little change as possible before we left to minimize the number of transitions she had to go through.
After we locked in the general routine, we wrote up a gigantic essay for her guardians over the week – Jess’ parents. The daily schedule was in there, almost half hour by half hour. We also wrote in detail our major routines – bedtime, bath, daycare drop off – not because we expected or wanted them to follow it word for word (okay, I did, but I’m a control freak) – but more importantly, we just wanted them to have an idea of what we did so they could come up with routines in similar veins.
2. Prepared a week’s worth of food for her
This was all Jess. We didn’t want things to be too difficult for Jess’ parents so Jess prepared a week’s worth of lunches for daycare. Baby M generally eats what we eat in the morning and for dinner but we need to provide lunch for her. Rather than giving her guardians an extra thing to worry about, we took care of that beforehand. We also bought/made snacks that she could eat when as needed throughout the week.
3. Kept her routines the same as much as possible – including daycare
Originally Jess’ parents were debating whether to even take her to daycare or not but we all decided it would be better for her to keep up her regular routine. We are super lucky to have parents living nearby who are so helpful – Jess’ parents even agreed to stay at our house so Baby M wouldn’t even have to transition cribs. So we pretty much kept everything exactly the same for her when we were gone – it’s just the two people taking care of her were different.
If Jess’ parents had had to stay at their home, we still would have encouraged Baby M to go to daycare. As any parent knows, minimizing disruptions is the way to minimize difficulties – at least that’s what I’ve learned.
4. Prepared emergency numbers, contacts, and medical supplies
This is pretty obvious – we put together a list of emergency numbers and contacts. Another good tip our pediatrician gave us was to put all of the medical supplies in one place – it’s common sense but a lot of common sense gets forgotten in the heat of baby raising!
5. Shared detailed itineraries with her guardians and other relatives
I like to use Tripit to keep track of my itineraries – it can consolidate all my flight, hotel, and other transportation plans. It also can send these itineraries to anybody – very useful!
6. Dealt with our anxiety about leaving her
This was probably the hardest thing for us to do. We were tempted even in the last week before we left to cancel the trip. Were we being horrible parents? What if something happened to her or us? Was it too much burden to put on her grandparents? These questions and more were weighing heavily on us.
Ultimately, we decided that this might be our only chance to get to Bora Bora – if we ever had another kid it’d be harder to leave two, the flights had lined up perfectly, etc. etc. We also really just needed a break, some time to relax and be husband and wife instead of mom and dad.
Still, we had to deal with the anxiety. So first, we had Baby M spend extra time with grandma and grandpa so that both parties could feel more comfortable. Secondly, we just had to make the decision to let go – trust that she’d be okay. Really, we predicted the separation would affect us more than it would her and that ended up being true. Third, we prepared a will – just in case. It seems morbid, but a will is a good thing to have and our separation prompted us to make one. We just used a template and signed it in the presence of witnesses.
So how’d she do?
By the time we got to LA the day we left, Baby M was already in bed – and she had a GREAT day with Jess’ parents. They are excellent, excellent babysitters – which we knew but it was nice to see in action. That really put us at ease and I got onto the flight to Papeete with a sense of confidence and relief – I knew she was going to be just fine. I guess I had always known, but hearing how well she had done that first day without us, I stopped worrying too much. It really was more difficult for us than it was for her!
Over the course of the week, we received daily updates on our terrible bandwidth internet – we decided not to Skype with her so as not to confuse her (though we probably didn’t have the bandwidth to do it anyway). Did she forget about us while we were gone? Definitely not! We came back late at night so didn’t get to see her until she woke up the next morning. I almost couldn’t sleep that night I was so excited to see her. I woke up at 600 AM to her normal cries, we both went in to get her together as she was standing up in her crib.
When she saw us she broke into a huge smile and started patting us all over our heads and faces – yup, we’re the real thing baby! Anyway it was a happy reunion after a great trip, but ultimately it showed that leaving her for a week worked out just fine.
It’s a little weird writing this trip report since I haven’t written one without Baby M involved for over a year. But she played a big role in our trip – in our thoughts at least. We were anxious about leaving her, but everything else worked out. Hopefully some of our thought process can be helpful to any other parents thinking of traveling without their little ones – or maybe you just think we’re crazy! Either way, the rest of the trip report will be all sunshine and snorkeling, I assure you 🙂
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