We are used to traveling with our young kids; but when we were invited to a South Asian destination wedding, we figured the logistics would be challenging to bring the kids along. So we decided to try out traveling without young kids and leaving them with family.
When we travel with just our family, we stick to a flexible schedule, and we did not want this to take away from the wedding experience if we were frantically trying to get our kids food and naps at certain times. Additionally, there is so much research out there that supports time for parents to form memories apart from the kids – such as in this post here. Ultimately, we thought, let’s drop the kids off with their grandparents! Because of this we were able to be present at the wedding, and also take advantage of free time to snorkel and eat at non-child-friendly places.
My mom is very familiar with my kids and their routine, but I still wrote out ‘guidelines’ for them to refer to. TBD if they actually used them, but for the sake of peace of mind, it helps to write notes in an easy-to-read format for the babysitters!
Here are my 6 tips to leave for caregivers when traveling with young kids:
- Timings of meals and naps: If your kids are on a schedule, make sure everyone knows the timing of the meals, snacks, naps, any specific activities, or other routines (i.e., bath time or story time). Having this familiar routine of timings should help the child feel more at ease, even when the parents are away.
- Health, Allergy, and Doctor Information: Medical information like allergies is probably the most crucial piece of information to leave with a caregiver. Exact details on allergies and how to utilize any medicine in case of an emergency. For example, if your child would require an Epi Pen after exposure to pecans, the caregiver should be informed and be comfortable using an Epi Pen.
- Essential rules: Of course, a caregiver might not adhere to every strict rule a parent usually enforces, but if there is something important to you than definitely share it with the person watching your children. For example, at home our kids usually don’t watch TV during the week. If I am asking someone else to watch the kid, especially if they are doing it for free, then I will say they can watch TV during the weekdays, but give them a time limit because I know that too much TV significantly deregulates and deteriorates my kids personalities, and it will only lead to more hardship for the caregiver.
- Discipline strategies: Some parents practice gentle parenting and others follow more dicipline methods. Let the caregiver know your normal style and what you would prefer them to do if the kids act up. For example, I would tell my caregiver that if my kids are mildly violent in any way to each other, to put them in a time out/alone time in a corner for a few minutes.
- Routines of the kids: Any routines related to meals and sleeping are important to know for a caregiver. Perhaps the child needs to be told a story to be able to fall asleep or perhaps they need to hear an alarm go off when it is dinner time. These familiar habits will help the kids feel at ease.
- Key phrases: Even though I constantly think my toddler is a genius and can understand most of what they say, other people have pointed out that they don’t understand as well. If there are certain words that I know mean a lot to the kids that others might not follow along with, give them a heads up. I know that my kids are scared of a made-up monster called the Gubalo, but I need to give this context to the caregiver so that they can make them feel better if they get scared.
All in all, feeling comfortable enough with my parents and their ability to watch the kids, was a huge consideration when we decided to leave them – and it was absolutely worth it! Of course, if you think that taking your kids on your trip with you is your preferred option, check out my blog post here on how to enjoy traveling with young kids.