Years ago, I wasn’t afforded the opportunity to travel, let alone travel for work. The opportunity to do so has happened slowly, over the course of years, as more jobs occurred and, with those, more income and possibilities to just go, as a family and as an individual.
The truth is, traveling without the kids takes twice as more work. It takes twice the prep, twice the money, and honestly, feels twice as good. Any time away to myself these days has been necessary and welcomed. I won’t pretend that, whether for work or pleasure, a brief respite (no matter the cost or planning) away from my two loving children is something I enjoy. And I have learned, it is something they enjoy too.
There’s an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child; more and more, as the days and weeks go on, I repeat this in my head–and not just because the busier I get, the more kid-rearing requires more help. It is also because, whether we’re busy or not, we all function like smooth machines when we get breaks. No matter how brief the break, after, I enjoy my kids more and they enjoy me more. I look into their eyes longer, and I draw with them more intently; conversations are more present; and the list goes on.
With all of that said, with a busy spring ahead with Woman Of Color’s publishing date nearing, and recent travel already for it, I thought I’d share how I get ready to leave my little buddies behind…
+ Write a list! I am one to get overwhelmed with things that should be happening while I’m away and what I should be doing during my travels. It’s good to get it out of your head and on to paper.
+Speaking of writing, I write letters and include activities. Little notes help the kids transition (and me, too!) when they have my words with them. I tell them things like, it would be nice if the finished puzzle before I got back! Or if they had time to work in their workbooks. In the past, I’ve gotten them tiny crafts to do, but this is strictly for the longer trips.
+ Plan for the house cleaner. Whether its before I leave or after, I have never regretted getting the house cleaned when I’m gone. The cost does not compare to the very real difference it makes when traveling and leaving kids behind.
+ Plan phone time. I normally call my kids in the morning and evening, and the kids and I set up this plan before I go. Knowing ahead of time helps steady their nerves. When I’m gone, it helps me feel connected to them and keeps me up-to-date on their day-to-day.
+ Go food shopping and leave cash on-hand. I usually order groceries using Instacart and have them delivered the night before. This helps out the caretakers–one less thing for them to worry about. But also, when I come back, there’s normally a bit of food left, and I can settle in before having to dive back into the routine of food shopping.
+ Keep packing simple. Packing is always the easiest thing on the list when you’re juggling children and life. I just refuse to let anything (like clothes) stress me when there’s so much else to plan for.
+ Let their teachers know. This is easy to forget (I forgot for O last trip). But it helps the teachers connect a child’s behavior to something that may be happening at home. I find that communication across all boards is always the best.
+ Do the basics of laundry. If you have a laundry pile staring at you, it may may be too daunting to tackle the whole thing and plan for your travels. I stick to the basics. Four bottoms? Four underwear? Basic shirts? Clean socks? Four pairs of everything, and they’re fine! The caregiver can handle the rest. Leave the laundry. It’ll be there when you return.
+ Know and welcome with full knowledge that nothing will be as it is with you. I think one of the biggest and best things I’ve done form myself is welcome the reality that things are always different in the care of others. Let go of control and allow people to care in their own unique way.
(Photograph by Amanda Petersen for LaTonya Yvette)