At some point during your kid’s toddlerhood, the fog and frenzy of the first 18 months will part to reveal … Your partner. Oh, that’s right! You’re sharing a house with a person you liked enough to have a baby with. Gosh, they used to be so cool and fun! Wouldn’t it be nice to just hang out with them again? Like, alone?
The only problem is that your newly mobile kid is like a momma bloodhound and as tenacious as a tick. And a date night away isn’t nearly enough to get reconnected. So it might be time to for a weekend getaway. But How?
Why You Need To Get Away
There’s a lot of evidence out there that suggests family vacations are great at bringing everyone together. But that actually holds true for couples as well. In one study by the U.S. Travel Association, 86 percent of couples who traveled together believed that the romance was still alive compared to a homebound 73 percent that didn’t roam together.
More than that? A study out of Cornell University found that experiences, like the ones packed into a getaway, lead to a sense of happiness. Things, like that tacky charm bracelet you were going to give her? Not so much. So ditch your kid for a bit.
The Pre-Escape Checklist
Okay, so it’s not that easy. There are certain things that have to be done. You can’t just grab your partner and head to the nearest B&B — where people enjoying the second B will pretend they didn’t hear what you 2 did, loudly, in the first B the night before. Here’s a handful of things to do before galavanting off.
A Good Caregiver
If you’re leaving your kid overnight, then you need to make sure you leave them with someone your kid feels comfortable with. Yeah, you need to feel comfortable with them too. And considering the Kratt bros don’t really do overnights, your best option will likely be a family member.
Of course, when family members aren’t nearby, you may need to opt for an “aunt” or “uncle” friend with whom your kid is very familiar. Bonus points if they have kids. Or, you can bundle a visit from an out-of-state grandma or grandpa with an opportunity to head out.
The most important part is to know your kid’s temperament. And to not leave them with Mrs. Wacko-Next-Door just because she’s nice and cheap.
Get Your Crap Together
A weekend getaway shouldn’t require that you leave too much documentation. But for a trip taking you farther than a comfortable cruise back to take care of an emergency, you’ll need to leave behind some papers.
Of course, you should already have taken care of your will and any guardianship considerations for a worst case scenario. But, beyond that, take into account contingencies for less tragic, but still important scenarios. Basically, build a folder that includes all of the following:
- Your doctor and hospital information, along with health insurance cards, your kid’s medical records and emergency medical consent forms
- Phone numbers for local police, fire, ambulance and poison control. Or just write 911 somewhere conspicuous
- The gas and electric company emergency number
- Contact information for the nearest relative and neighbor (depending on who’s watching your kid)
Prepare The Caregiver
In order to keep your kid from going crazy (and, frankly, to distract them from your absence) make sure you leave the caregiver with the tools they need. You’ll want to leave behind the following:
- Library cards or any membership cards to museums
- A brief list of activities over the time you’re gone that your kid might dig
- The daily routine and the pain-points the caregiver might expect (“Use the DORA TOOTHBRUSH ONLY!”)
- Your kids favorite treats, activities, toys and shows
- How to work the goddamn remote (this is crucial)
Again, making sure you’re not sabotaging your caregiver, make sure you are leaving everything they need to be successful (and not call you crying so you have to come back early). Be sure to stock up on:
- All things required for butts and their cleaning
- Bandaids and other first aid supplies
- Snack and goodies
- Healthy (or not) meals
- Clean clothes
Prepare Your Kid
As your hotly anticipated and brief escape gets closer, you’ll need to make sure your kid knows what’s going on. So prep them as best you can. This might be a bit tough for toddlers, considering their limited language skills. But the important part is that you keep it simple.
It may help to not talk about it until a couple of days before you leave. Any more than that could lead to anxiety. That’s because kids don’t have a firm grasp on time (and some would argue, reality). In order to help them out, try measuring the time in sleeps, rather than days.
If they seem to get fussy about the idea, don’t discount a little bribery. Let them know you’ll bring something back for them. And then don’t forget to do that, unless you want to give them an early lesson on the dark realities of trusting people you love.
While You’re Away
Set a time to check in via video messaging. But keep it brief. You don’t want to throw the schedule into complete chaos. Also, be prepared that seeing your face on a screen and not with them in the room could very possibly backfire for sensitive kids.
For more discreet, quick check-ins, hit up your caregiver via text. Send photos from your trip if you think your kid will find that helpful. Just, be careful to send the … uh … right ones.
When You Get Back
You might be exhausted from “playing” with your partner all weekend, but you can’t shut down just yet. You need to make some time for your kid immediately. That means dropping your bags and getting down to play with them.
And make sure you treat them gently for the next week or so with extra hugs and one on one time. After all, you want your kid to be okay when you need some time away. Or else it’ll be another year before that fog lifts and you’re able to have an adventure with the one you love.