This week I will be jetting to sunny San Antonio where I will be pretending to work speaking at a blogging conference.
I will be away from the Dudes and the management of their home lives for a full three days.
Fortunately, I’ve been down this road before and I have a well developed list of things I must do before I leave to ensure anarchy, chaos, and zombieism don’t occur in my absence.
Note: this list is for the infrequent traveling mom who is also the primary day-to-day care giver of her children. Basically, if you’re the stay-at-home, work-at-home, in-charge-of-basically-everything-at-home mom who has never, ever, in life left her children over night with anyone, including their own father, this is for you.
Simplify Your Mom Game: Solo Travel Tips for Moms, 9 Things You Must Do
1. Make a list. Preferably, a detailed one featuring everything from what time the bus comes (no, if it’s your job every day, your husband doesn’t know and, chances are, neither do your children) to the exact temperature, consistency, and presentation your 4th grader takes his oatmeal (runny and warm, not hot, definitely not cold, absolutely no clumps, sprinkle of cinnamon on top, no stirring). Sure, he won’t die if his oatmeal isn’t served just so, but your spouse might, and possibly all of his siblings and the dog, depending
2. Mark and separate the approved clothing list. Otherwise, your son will go to school in a cape and swim trunks. And then the school secretary, the mean one with the judging voice, will call your cell phone while you’re at a mimosa brunch working and sigh and moan at you about inappropriate attire and the necessity of following the school’s dress code. Your husband’s comments when questioned, “They look like shorts and he said it was theme day!” To which you will reply, “They are, but it’s winter and theme day was last week. Like I told you. When I texted you the photo of him dressed as super doc, saving lives, one sick kid at a time.”
3. Prep the kids. Don’t wait until the last minute to discuss the fact that you will be leaving them to their own devices with their father for a week. We start the Mommy-is-going-on-a-trip chatter weeks before I actually depart. They need time to have all of their questions answered, and their fears laid to rest. Don’t spring it on them the morning you’re set to go or you will be met with horrified reactions that are sure to cause you to miss your flight.
4. Think about what’s for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast. Personally, I don’t care if they eat donuts for breakfast, Lunchables for lunch, and McDonald’s for dinner while I’m away. I’m not away enough for them to turn into French fries over it and I served them corn dogs yesterday; I’m in no position to judge. But, if the idea of them having an under nutritious meal is frightening to you and you know your husband’s idea of “cooking” is ordering pizza, you should probably arrange meals before you roll. Or, call your mom and ask her to stop by and maybe stay the week while you’re away.
5. Don’t promise you will call every night. This was a huge learning curve for me because there were nights where, because of my conference schedule, their after school schedule, and bed time, I couldn’t connect with them via phone. It was catastrophic and I have a slew of text from DudeDad to prove it. Instead, I promise to text them consistently (they all have a device that allows texting when connected to wi-fi), and we usually get to Facetime. Technology is your solo traveling mom friend.
6. Notify the school. If the something-bad-happened protocol is to call you on your home phone, you may want to inform them that they need to get ahold of dad while you’re away. Also, if someone else is going to be dropping off or picking up, that’s important info teach might need to know as well.
7. Think about the other members of the house. Dogs, cats, fish, hamsters. You’re their mama too, remind your family to care for them while you’re away. Your dog probably won’t allow herself to be overlooked in the food department, but the fish, the fish is another story.
8. Come bearing gifts. Every time I travel I bring The Dudes a little treat back. Sometimes it’s a sassy “I LOVE NY” t-shirt, sometimes it’s just a chocolate bar I got at the airport. Regardless, it is a tradition tied to my ditching them for awesome experiences traveling for work, and they look forward to it as a way to celebrate everything finally being right with the world again my return.
9. Forget about it. And by it, I mean them. Whether you are going out of town for business or pleasure, worrying incessantly about them while you’re gone is going to hinder your ability to perform. Even if your only goal is relaxing and recharging, you owe it to yourself and your children and your spouse and the dog you yelled at three times before you left yesterday morning to do that while you’re gone. Seriously, you booked a trip, left them crying at the door, spent a bunch of time, effort, and money to make this happen, the least you can do is make it worth it!