As someone who loves to travel, I assumed I’d be one of those moms who casually drops the baby off with her grandparents while jaunting off to a relaxing vacation. But I’m just about two years into the whole motherhood thing, and this has literally never happened.
In fact, I’ve spent exactly two nights away from my toddler, and it was while I was in the hospital giving birth to her little brother. I’d love to blame my attachment on the pandemic and the fact that we haven’t had the opportunity to travel (even if I wanted to), but deep down I know that pandemic or not, I’d have a hard time leaving my little one.
Whether you never got around to vacationing without your kids before the pandemic or had a pandemic baby and just haven’t had the option, there are many parents who may be getting the itch to take a kid-free vacation as more things open up. It may be the first time leaving the baby at home, or perhaps it’s just been a while.
If you feel nervous about leaving your little ones, whether it’s with your partner or another caregiver, you aren’t alone. It’s perfectly normal to feel a level of anxiety when breaking from routine and leaving your baby, especially for the first time.
For the moms considering a getaway or preparing for a work trip, there are ways to emotionally and logistically ease your mind as you prepare to leave that’ll make the experience smoother for everyone.
You may be leaving your baby with your partner, a family member, or another caregiver. For consistency’s sake, I’m going to be referencing a partner, but most of the same tips apply to whoever is watching your little one. Here are 7 tips to help you prepare for your first big weekend away from the baby:
1. Understand and accept another caregiver will do things differently
We all parent in our own unique ways, and that also goes for you and your partner. As aligned as you may be on your parenting philosophies, they’ll inevitably do some things differently from you, and that’s OK because children are adaptable. Perhaps their schedules won’t be the same as when you parent, meals won’t be as balanced, and there might be more screen time than the average day. Allow your partner to do things their way and know that they love your child, they’re doing things the best way they see fit, and everyone will be fine.
2. Voice your biggest worries
A fellow new mom passed along this piece of advice. She had a handful of anxieties when it came to the safety of her child. Instead of a long lecture on what to do and what not to do (though, of course, you’ll want to give some guidelines), she made sure to explain her fears. Talking it through gave her the space to get these emotions off her chest and allowed her partner to understand where she was coming from with her worries, which could help ease some anxiety.
3. Do a trial run
Leaving your baby for the first time can bring up a lot of emotions—for you, your partner, and for your baby. Do a trial run, whether it’s leaving for a few hours or an entire day, and it’ll hopefully make you feel better about the upcoming longer separation. It’ll also make your partner feel confident that they can handle it.
4. Figure out how your partner thrives
Do they want a schedule written out down to the minute? Or would they prefer a more casual approach? You want your partner to feel confident in their abilities, and you also want to ensure that everything is handled by the time you walk out the door. Discuss the approach that’ll make both of you feel good about the situation and support your partner in any way possible.
5. Write down your schedule for a few days
If you’re a stay-at-home mom, work-from-home mom, or generally a mom who spends more time with your baby than your partner, there are probably things you do throughout your day that are second nature to you. All of these small things might add up to the bulk of your routine with the baby.
My husband is a very involved dad, but I’m the primary caregiver, so it’s natural that I know more about our baby than he does. After all, I am home with her all day, every day. That doesn’t mean my partner can’t properly care for her, it just means that I’ve learned a lot in our journey together, and I don’t always share all of the little details with my husband.
If your partner wants to be armed with lots of information, thoroughly think through your days. For a couple of days, take notes every few hours so those smaller details don’t slip through the cracks. If this isn’t how your partner thrives, you can always write it down and give it to them with the caveat that the information’s there if they want it, but they don’t need to follow every sentence.
6. Explain your priorities
Your partner is likely going to do things differently than you do, and that’s totally fine. But if there are important elements of your baby’s routine that you really prefer that they follow, let them know. Don’t worry about a bath every night or a clean house. Instead, focus on things like naps at the right time, sticking to a feeding schedule, or anything else that’s important to your child’s health, well-being, and mood. For example, if you know that skipping a certain nap leads to a fussy baby, make sure your partner knows.
7. Remember that this will be good for everyone
Maybe tears will be shed. And maybe you’ll be up at night thinking about what your family is doing at home. It’s totally normal. Even with the influx of emotions, remind yourself that this is a good experience for everyone. Your partner is enjoying quality time with the baby, the baby is learning to trust someone besides you, and hopefully you’re off doing something that’s good for you, too.
As mothers, especially new mothers, we so rarely take time for ourselves. It may be hard to leave your baby at home, but try to enjoy the time away. Even if it’s travel for a work trip, relish any extra sleep, embrace how much you love and miss your baby, and hopefully you’ll return home refreshed and ready to jump into motherhood with renewed excitement.