I recently shared about Miss H’s first trip off into the big, bad world by herself (ok, really just a stay with her grandparents!). I’m excited to report that we all made it through the 6 days/5 nights apart perfectly! While we missed her terribly and I stupidly oohed and awwed over every baby/toddler I saw, it was an amazing amount of downtime and rest for me. It was also an amazing opportunity for Miss H to learn and grow on her own!
Since I shared how we were planning/prepping for the trip, I thought I’d share some outcomes:
(Pre Trip) One on One Grandparent Time
Because we saw my parents a couple of weeks before the actual trip, it really did help Miss H have a smoother transition to being with them. They were much more familiar to her and it was the first time I felt like she really knew who they were.
Detailed Schedule & Food List
This helped us so much! Miss H’s schedule was shifting right up until the trip (we’d finally successfully pushed her 1 nap of the day until 12/12:30pm). If we hadn’t detailed everything out for them, I think they would have had a difficult time determining naps/snacks/milk/etc. She seemed to transition really well with them and I never once got a text asking, “When do we do _____?” I sent them the food list in advance so that they could shop and prep things and that went over really well. They never had to ask what she could/couldn’t have.
Packing with everything in quart-sized freezer bags worked so well! We ended up packing everything in a clear storage tub, and I wish I had taken a picture of everything packed up. It was so neat and tidy! I loved putting individual outfits into a Ziploc bag (i.e. short sleeved t-shirt + capri leggings or sundress + diaper cover). It was easy for me to see exactly what I had packed, and easy for them to find a new outfit for her. I also did this for toiletries, bibs, utensils, etc. I will definitely be packing like this for future trips!
Strategic “Hand Off”
We met at an IKEA store that was midway between our houses. This was absolutely the perfect place; my intuition was spot-on! We loaded Miss H in her stroller and while Mr. H and I did some shopping, my parents pushed the stroller and hung out with Miss H. We could take our time as needed (IKEA is not very busy on a Wednesday morning!), there’s a fabulous big bathroom for diaper changes, and a cafe for feeding her a snack. When we were done shopping we just rolled Miss H out to the cars, said our goodbyes, and loaded her up in my parents car instead of ours. The only downside was the “big goodbye” in a parking lot. Not ideal, but it worked.
Keep Myself Busy
Once we were back at our house (we had a little less than 24 hours before our flight), we grabbed lunch and a beer (love celebrating day 1 of a vacation with a beer!) and set to work on house projects. The doors in Miss H’s bedroom desperately needed to be painted, nail holes in walls all over the house needed to be patched and painted, her closet needed to be organized, clothes she’d grown out of needed to be stored away, etc. Mr. H and I were running around the house getting stuff accomplished. It was fabulous! By our flight the next day, I fully felt “baby free” and didn’t need projects to distract myself. I chilled out at the airport with a latte and a book. I could have cared less that our flight was delayed by an hour. I was on vacation!!
One thing I was disappointed about was that my parents did not want to FaceTime with us, as they thought it would upset Miss H. She was doing well being away from us, but apparently asked for us/looked for us quite regularly. While I completely understand that they didn’t want to rock the boat since she was doing well, it was hard not to be able to talk to her/interact with her! The pictures and videos they sent were great, but I would have loved some live chat time with her.
Thoughts After the Trip
Once we were back home, I could not wait to get back to that IKEA and see my baby! The time away was a wonderful opportunity to feel refreshed – I even got to sleep in until 8:30am one day! But nothing could replace having Miss H by my side. And I learned a lot – that while I missed her terribly, it was a little bit easier to leave her than I initially had thought it would be. I knew she was in safe and loving hands. And the time away also gave me the opportunity to really see Miss H and how much she changes day in and day out. She seemed so much older after the trip. She was saying so many new words (she even learned her (nick)name), and she was pronouncing words even better than before. I think she really grew both physically and developmentally on that trip!
I think the first time you’re away from your little one for an extended period of time is going to be hard in some way, shape, or form! But I think it’s important to pick the right time for you and your family to do this (if you have the luxury of doing so, as I know many people have to travel for work!). I don’t think I would have been ready 1 year or even 6 months ago to leave Miss H. This was the right time, and I firmly believe that after seeing how well Miss H made the transition to a different environment without us. She was a superstar!
Were you able to plan for a pick the “right” time to leave your LO for the first time, or was it out of your hands? Did it end up being easier or harder than you thought it would be?