June 24, 2011

How to Leave Your Kids for 10 Days...

...a tutorial.

At the very beginning of the year, when Lynzee & I were planning the cruise and surrounding details, I was pretty nervous about leaving the girls for an extended period of time.

Don't get me wrong... I felt completely at ease in leaving them with my parents {even though my Mom does tend to make crazy, impulsive decisions like this}. I knew the girls would be super comfortable spending time with them.

But, still...

The longest I'd ever been away was for five nights when I trained for my PAT position. That was a long time, but at least Tyler was at home to care for the girls in the evenings and early mornings before work. To my recollection, the longest Tyler and I had both been away from the girls was a single night, in instances such as Cory & Jami's wedding fiasco...

Anyway, when we booked the cruise, and booked our flights to include an extended stay in Ft. Lauderdale, I experienced what I can only relate to as a runner's high... a surge of adrenaline that lasted a short time and brought an overwhelming sense of joy... until the pain set in.

When that energy lulled, I had an oh crap, what did I just do? moment {or two or three}...

Eleven days? TEN nights? Really?!?!

Luckily for us, there was no turning back.

Before I get to how I made the process utterly painless for the girls, let me just express how it went for me. I got pretty worked up in the days before the trip. The day before we left and the morning that we left were hard. Let's just say that as we pulled away in Tom & Lynzee's van, I had the sunglasses on, for sure. When we stopped in the town north of as at the gas station for fountain drinks, I may or may not have had a mini meltdown, where Tyler was quickly able to calm me down before I took off towards home.

Once we were on the road, I felt much better. Those were the hardest two days. It got easier. Pretty painless, actually. Especially once I learned the girls were A-OK with it all. So, in retrospect, I wish I would have chilled out a bit more. Not sure if that would have been possible, but really, it was OK.

OK, back to my brilliant idea.

Well, likely not my brilliant idea, as I'm sure it's been done before, but still...

With a little advanced planning and a bit of money, I was able to pull together a plan for the girls to receive one gift for each day we were gone. I knew they would love the idea of getting to open something every day, and it would also provide a visual countdown of how many more days {or as my girls like to say, sleeps} until we returned home.

I tried to select things that would entertain the girls, rather than silly little toys that would be pushed aside in two minutes. We wrapped each gift and made a pile in front of the fireplace, but I coded each gift with a sharpie "shape" and made my Mom a key instead of creating an "order" that they needed to be opened in. This allowed her the flexibility to guide the activities based on how they were feeling, what the weather was like, etc.

We were gone for eleven days, so there were eleven gifts. Let me try to remember them...

  • T-shirts and shirt paint for "nightshirts"
  • Bubbles and cool bubble wands and toys
  • A new DVD and a package of microwave popcorn
  • Crayons, markers, stickers, and paper to keep at Nana's
  • Nail polish and nail stickers
  • Outdoor water squirters
  • Disney Princess Yahtzee
  • A play-doh ice cream shoppe
  • Foam door hanger craft kits
  • Cake mix, frosting, and cupcake paper liners
  • Cute reusable bags with my library card inside to take to the library and sign up for the summer reading program

Anyway, as you can see, they were all things that would give the girls something to do for the day. I tried to include a variety of things, and the whole process was a HUGE hit. The girls looked very forward to seeing what the next day would bring, and it helped them to see the gift pile dwindling down, knowing that it was getting closer to when we'd be back home. On the scarce occasion that either girl would ask about how much longer it would be, they would go and count the packages together.

I will definitely use this method again if we ever go out of town for any lengthy period of time, and I thought I would share in case anyone else wants to try it!

3 sweet tweets:

Sherry said...

That's a brilliant idea!! If ever we take a vacation sans kids, I'm definitely going to steal this idea. Thanks!

Kendra said...

that is SUCH a great idea!!!

Shelby Rooney said...

Such a good idea. I need some of your "type A" to rub off on me! I also need parents that would be willing to watch my crazy girls for 11 days! Lol!