If you were following me at @fitbottomedmama or @jennydschloz on Instagram, you may have seen a little about my trip to Israel. This was the most beautiful, powerful and exhilarating experience I have ever been a part of. This was a big step for me — it was the first time I have ever left my children, ever. My Mister will be 5 the end of August, and we had not been away from one another outside of the overnights with Grandma and Nana. This this was a first for all of us. But this was needed, this made me a better mama, and this is how I did it.
Leading up to the trip, my nerves were high, thinking about the plane ride, the different time zones (how will I talk to the kids when we’re awake at different times?), what to pack, what to expect, etc. I took a deep breath, asked for help, and we made it happen.
10 Tips for Traveling Mamas
1. Daily letters for my kids. My son was a little anxious leading up to my trip. He didn’t want to be away from me as much as I didn’t want to be away from him. My husband and I worked on daily letters, which included what I was up to each day and what I was doing while they were reading the letters. I gave a small insight to what I was experiencing, and my husband would elaborate on them and answer Evan’s questions. Luckily, Israel was not foreign to my husband who had been several times and has family there.
2. Technology is a beautiful thing. It may have been midnight or 1 a.m., but I got to see my babes when they first woke up. It didn’t matter that we spent the day on the go with little down time, and I may have wanted to crash in bed before another early morning, but nothing could keep me from missing a video chat with my three loves. I wonder how moms did it before the technology we have available now. WhatsApp and I developed a mutual love for one another, and through that, I got to see my babes’ morning smiles.
3. Know your sitter, trust your sitter. We are so lucky to have my mother in law’s help, which she split up with our go-to babysitter. Both of these ladies are with the kids enough, so there was little preparing to do. We worked out a schedule that suited our babysitter best, and my mother in law filled in the rest. It is so important to chose a babysitter you trust, and who trusts your family. One who knows and understands your kid and isn’t afraid to ask questions.
4. Remember No. 3. You trust who your children are with. Do not overthink it. You made the decision. Allow yourself to let go.
5. Lists, calendar and contact information. We know it’s in your head, but write it down! I found it was more relaxing for me to make a calendar of the kids’ schedules and events that will take place while I am gone. This made it easier for my husband to know where the kids need to be and when. Birthday parties? No problem. Purchase the gifts ahead of time, wrap them, and put names on them. Making it easier on my husband was more for my mental clarity than his.
6. Stock the freezer. If it’ll make you feel good, cook and stock your freezer. I love to make sure my three loves have full bellies. I like to do it if I’m gone, too. I made sure there was plenty of options for everyone and that my husband wasn’t too inconvenienced while I was gone. I wanted to keep in mind that my husband had a full work schedule in my absence. Don’t worry — they’ll eat out or at Grandma’s anyway.
7. Emergency contact. This goes with No. 5. Even though those who know your kids are aware of any needs they may have (food, medical, etc.), it’s always smart to write it down. I provided a lists of all their doctors’ information and in case of an emergency where the kids should be transported to. Remember to put: Call 911 first, Dad second! I felt it was important to stress that, again, probably for my own comfort.
8. Leave behind cards. Insurance cards for sure. Mamas tend to keep those in our wallets and want to make sure in case of an emergency Dad and your sitters have those! Also provide any membership cards you have or zoo passes — something to give your caretaker ideas for what to do with the kids when a rainy day happens. My kids love a local farmstead and we have a membership, so I left that for our sitter, along with my gym membership card, which allows access to some fun kid rooms too!
9. Leave your car with a full tank of gas. I left my car for our babysitter and I absolutely did not want her to deal with the gas station with my babes in the car. So, I filled it up before I left town. You know, another one of those “for my benefit less hers” type of thing.
10. Go on your trip and have fun. The kids will be here waiting for you when you return. When my kids saw me I got big hugs and kisses, and all they cared about was what I had in my suitcase for them!
The most important thing this trip taught me is that someone else can do the work. I like things done a certain way, I tend to be a “perfectionist” on some things and I tend to find that my way is best. It is a battle with myself and causes me more work than is necessary. I drive myself (and sometimes those around me) crazy because of it. My trip away from my kids showed me that someone else can take care of them, too. It may not be the way I do it, and that’s okay. Their bellies are fed, they are clean, happy and healthy. That is most important. It’s okay to do things my way, but it’s also okay to let others do it their way in my absence.
These are those moments when you recognize how it truly takes a village and you warmly accept that you, too, are deserving of having that village. To my village, I am forever grateful.
Have you ever taken a trip away from your kids? —Jenny