You have done all the planning for your traveling. Tickets are bought and bags are packed, now the only thing left to do is leave the sitter information for the kids while you are gone.
This is where I get stuck. We usually have grandparents stay with the children while we travel, however I always manage to forget something. The hazards of being a blonde I suppose, but this list is as much for you as it is for me so I don’t forget the important stuff.
- Leave the medical stuff in an easily accessible location. We leave ours in a clearly marked folder on a table by the front door. The folder should contain insurance cards and copies of insurance cards (hey they can get lost and you will be out of the country take the extra time and make a copy just in case!). Also include the medical history. When you go to see a new doctor they always ask about allergies, hospitalizations, and family history of diseases and this is something that, while your sitter may know them, in the case of an emergency it’s easier to have it on a printed sheet of paper that he or she can give to the emergency room doctor. Speaking of doctors another good idea is to have a signed notarized form allowing your sitter to seek medical treatment in the case of an emergency. To be honest, I have had our sitter take my daughter to the minute Clinic and while she had forgotten the form my daughter was able to be seen, but again since you will be out of the country, better safe than sorry is the way to go. In our family we have one child that wears contacts and another that wears glasses so we include the prescription and a copy of the prescription in the folder. Lastly we include money in the folder specifically for co-pays and co insurance.
- The kids’ schedule is hung on the fridge before we go. We do have older children (ours are 13, 11, 9 and 9…yes we have twin daughters) so some of this may or may not apply if your children are younger, but this can still give you an idea of what to include. On our schedule we include how much homework the children have on an average school day, medication times and amounts, our food schedule preferences, the school schedule including the bus schedule, and the extracurricular activities with times, places and directions for each. Let me touch briefly on the food schedule as that just sounds weird. We don’t have a set time we eat, however we have set days for certain food, like taco Tuesday and pizza and movie night Fridays. Staying on this schedule has become important to my children so staying on the schedule while we are gone is a must.
- The list of favorites is usually given directly to the sitter in our house so the other kids don’t tease them, but this list is all encompassing. For each child I write down a list of favorite activities, friends, places, foods, TV shows, movies, books and just about anything else I can think of. I have found this to be helpful when the kids start missing mom and dad the sitter can pull out the list and do some or all the activities on the list to help keep their minds of the fact that their parents aren’t around. Which leads me into….
- Plan for communication! Traveling out of the country leads to all sorts of fun communication issues. Are you going to utilize skype, get a sim card, or something else? Whatever you decide make sure you have a plan. Are you going to call the kids Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays? Are you going to call once a week? What time will you call? If there is an emergency is the sitter texting you so you can call back or is she calling you? Make a plan before you leave so your children know when you will be in touch. This will also give them and you something to look forward to. Another quick tip to put under this category, is communication with their school. I also hang on the fridge a list of the teacher’s email addresses and the phone number for the school. Remember to advise the school who the sitter is, how long she will be the point of contact, and what number to reach her at if there is an emergency at school.
- Lastly, and this is probably more of an idea to help you not disappoint your kids, is plan for souvenirs. Don’t buy something at the airport that will cause your kids (especially if you have teens) to roll their eyes. I ask that my kids look at the country we are heading to and find out something that they love about the country (pretty beach, unique animal, etc) and we look for souvenirs that have something to do with it. This is especially fun if you tell the kids where you were when you got the souvenir but not what it is on your weekly phone call.
Most of all enjoy your trip! It’s always a little nerve racking leaving the country with your children left at home with a sitter, but it’s something parent travelers have to learn to deal with at least till it’s possible to take your children with you.