Our vacation is quickly approaching – 19 daaaaaaays!!! – and although I am insanely excited about it I’ve started to think about the practical aspects of leaving the kids and house in someone else’s hands for a week and I’m freaking out.  My reasons are two-fold, and I will of course tell you about them now in great detail.

Reason 1 is because how can anyone besides me take care of my beautiful, special, magical snowflakes? They are delicate flowers! Fragile angels! Helpless babies! No one besides me can give them the care and love and constant attention they require to blossom and grow on a daily basis. I am their Mother, giver of Life, completely Irreplaceable.

Of course on a daily basis my love and life-giving mostly involves handing them cheese, playing trains, pouring juice and making sure they don’t kill each other. Not exactly rocket science.

But on the other hand, there ARE a lot of small things that matter an enormous amount to two toddlers but other people wouldn’t know. At bedtime, Evan wants me to sing his songs in a specific order. Caroline likes different sippy cups than Evan does. Her favorite games are hard to understand unless you realize punching you in the face is playing. When Evan asks for a “chocolate bar” he means a granola bar. Are their lives going to be RUINED if someone else does things differently for a week? No, of course not. And because my folks are coming here to our house the amount of change really is minimal. I just want things to be as easy as possible for everyone.

Reason 2 is because there are going to be PEOPLE in my HOUSE and I won’t be here to help them find things which means when they need extra towels or more toilet paper they are going to be opening closets and looking under beds and oh God it’s giving me heart palpitations just THINKING about it. Despite my best efforts and intentions, I am not a well-organized person. Yesterday I “cleaned” the guest room, which consisted of ten minutes untangling yarn, three minutes staring hopelessly at the giant pile of stuff still left to organize and thirty minutes of shoving craft supplies under the bed. Success! Or…not. At least it looks better than the cabinet under the bathroom sink. Or the pantry. Or our bedroom. Or – OH GOD – the basement. THE BASEMENT.

Then there’s the tiny issue that my mother is the kind of person who cleans my microwave every time she visits and my father is the kind of person who builds a new patio every time he visits so things need to be CLEAN and projects need to be FINISHED. Of course, I’ve known about this trip for a year so obviously my anxiety levels aren’t at the level of “get off my butt and do something” yet.

So here is my question for anyone who has left their kid(s) before OR hes watched someone else’s kids for them: How many pages of instructions are helpful vs. crazy-pants obsessive? Evan isn’t helpless, he can ask for the sippy cup he wants, but no one’s going to know what he means when he asks for the “camp-it hoot show” (Captain Hook show = Jake and The Neverland Pirates). Do I need to catalog our exact bedtime routine, or just “Bathtime at 7, in bed by 7:45” good enough? The most stressful part is I’m going to be virtually unreachable, so if I forget to write down “We usually ride the elevator a few times when we go to the mall, even if we don’t need to” I’m imagining the kids sobbing on the floor while my parents look on helplessly.

I don’t think there’s any advice for the house-mess situation, unless you want to come over and clean it for me. Ok, thanks, see you soon.

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16 Responses to “Preparedness”

  1. MommaExpat says:

    I’d come and help clean if I was stateside. We left HJ twice for a week with both sets of grands, and trust me it’s a hard thing to do but as long as you include the most important things you want them to do versus overwhelm them with details, they’ll stick with your plan. (Or not and just not tell you). Try and enjoy yourself too!

    • Jennie says:

      I agree- Put down the important details in writing and let them figure the rest out. Your kids will realize that your parents are not you; there will be a whole different set of expectations.
      AND- there is a lot to be said for “Show Grandma what you are wanting…” It really does work. That’s how we learned all the nuances of our children…

  2. Sara says:

    I think young children understand that grandparents (and different carers in general) cannot provide the same thing as parents. When I babysit my friends’ kids for a couple of days, they sometimes request incomprehensible things, I explain that I can’t understand, they try again, and usually they manage to be more articulate since they can’t rely on my superparental understanding. (I usually babysit kids around 3 years old, I don’t know about your youngest. ) In general though, you get dialogue like :”Mama does it! ” “I’m not mama.” and then the kid is fine.

  3. Mom D says:

    Just remember that your parents took care of you and you are fine – they know how to deal with kids and will adjust as needed :) Relax and just let them know the most important things (like which blanket is THE blanket for naps/bedtime).

  4. I have no advice, but I can commiserate – when we left our dog with my parents for the weekend for the first time, he went with an 8 page instruction book – AND I called to check in a ton.

  5. Robyn says:

    OMG, i can’t even imagine. The last time we left Rory and my mom had to do bedtime, i left a very detailed note, and she was almost 2.5 at the time, and is very verbal for her age, so totally capable of telling anyone what she wants/needs, plus i even added that she didn’t even have to do bedtime if it was too tough, since we wouldn’t be out past 9 anyways. it’s more that the list helps me relax. i KNOW she will be fine. and i do think that other commenter is right, they expect less from others than mommy and daddy, heck, Rory even expects less from daddy than mommy. but it’s the mommy guilt that gets you, and the list always makes me feel better. it’s like i think, ok i’m not as horrible of a mother if i at least leave a detailed list so that my delicate flower won’t have to be upset by a change in routine. the list is never really necessary, for the record, since my MIL doesn’t follow it anyways and things always turn out fine, much to my annoyance.

  6. Jennifer says:

    My experience with letting my parents keep my son every other weekend is, basically, that he has never expected things to be the same with them as it is with mom and daddy. And he’s totally cool with it. He’s even gone on vacation with them. And again, things are totally different than they are when he’s with us. And he’s cool with it.

    Children are insanely adaptable.

    That said, I usually send my mom a quick email about any major changes, or a sort of “dictionary” so that she may be able to understand what he wants a bit better. I let them know what his favorite foods are or what it means when he says “fraggy” for example. Or I tell them that we are working on getting him to say “please” and “thank you” so I would like them to do so as well. I also do keep a dialog with them about what we do or do not do regarding undesirable behavior.

    Maybe I’m weird in that I honestly don’t worry that much when he’s with someone I trust.

    • Jennie says:

      I did the behavior thing to when we left our three with my Mom for a week. I gave her our house rules and corresponding consequences. She found it VERY helpful.

  7. MomEinstein says:

    I would write down whatever you need so you feel better, and hand it to your parents and say, “In case they freak out by the break in routine or you need a dictionary.” I wouldn’t expect them to actually follow it, but it would be nice to have reference material to look back on if things get a little hairy.

    At least you’ll come home to a clean microwave!

  8. Joanna says:

    Oh mama. ENJOY YOUR TRIP. Your parents are the only people in the world who come close to loving your children as much as you do. If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s just to let go when my parents or my in laws take the kids. Our kids actually spend the night with grandparents fairly regularly… they usually stay up a little later, get more chocolate milk than usual and get spoiled rotten & love every minute of it. Since this is for an extended period of time I’m sure your parents will follow your routine a little more closely than oh, say if it was one night… but if the kids aren’t in bed by 7:45 every night they’ll be just fine. I would just write down the things they may have a hard time understanding (like how he says a certain tv show) and I’d write down things that work if one of them is throwing a fit, upset, misbehaving, etc. Other than that… let them do what they are coming over to do which is GIVE YOU A BREAK. mmmkay? ;-)

  9. I like to give/get detailed typed instructions regarding essential (medical, food, diapers/potty training, etc.) This isn’t preferences, more details and schedules. Comforting bedtime routines help too. I always say when handing any instructions over that, this is to help if you want it, feel free to do as you wish.

  10. Kim says:

    We left the kids for 10 days back in October and I left a 5 page theme on what to do for each of them – we have 3- and what our daily routine looks like. I mean, I listed it out like: Monday, wake by 7:00, breakfast, hair, teeth etc. Leave for bus stop at 8:00. Lunch at 11:00 — pb and J . . .
    I figured the more info the better, they couldn’t have too much info. Good luck and ENJOY!!

  11. Emily says:

    When I have watched other people’s kids, back before I had my own, I appreciated them leaving a few important details, such as a discipline plan and a few tricks that generally work for common situations, where to locate meds/first aid, a few favorite activity suggestions, etc. Other than that, the fact is that whoever watches your kids is probably going to do it a bit differently than you, and your kids will adapt and have fun (it’s their little vacation, too). So share the lifesaving tips and “must do” routines, skimp on the “every little” details.

  12. Finn says:

    You know what Mama – Your write as much as you need to, to feel comfortable. Seriously, you know they are going to be fine, and second runner up in awesome baby care is grandparents – so you know they are going to be fine. You know they are going to be fine, but if it helps your worry to say that “Q-Bars” (what we call granola bars) are granola bars, and that “they like to ride the elevator a few extra times” then so be it!!
    ENJOY YOUR VACA – worry free.

    About your house, no advice. Mine is a fright… seriously, a mess. (My house is the product of an artist and a professional academic buying a “fixer-upper” in a recession.) Yeah, I am no help on the house front.

  13. barbra says:

    Ditto what everyone else said. Do what you need to if it makes you feel better about leaving so you don’t worry during your trip. Make a super duper long list if you want and have the energy. The info will be available to your parents if they need it (they probably won’t). If you don’t have the energy, don’t worry about it. They will all be fine.
    As for the house, don’t worry about that either. Unless you have a “toy” box under your bed. Move that to the attic or E’s car or something. Dust bunnies and clutter is expected with toddlers and dogs. And don’t feel guilty if your mom cleans your house – just enjoy it when you get back.

  14. Sarah-Anne says:

    i have nothing except you make me laugh…and your in-laws are coming to see your KIDS not your house. always helped me chill out a little when i worry about the broken toilet paper holder in the bathroom that guests use.

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