I just returned from a weekend away with my husband – something I never dreamed would be possible until my twins were off to college. So while this subject is fresh on my mind I thought I’d write about it first.
Who’s The Brave Soul Staying With Your Children?
Depending on how long you are going to be away and the number of multiples you have, I recommend at least two adults. There is safety in numbers! Remember whoever you choose is not accustomed to your day in and day out with your children, so it’ll be that much more work than it already is for you. I am pretty big on having someone with a “vested emotional interest” staying with your children.
“How To Take Care Of My Kids”
A nurse I worked with took care of 1-year-old twins for a weekend when she was 18. The mother had left a detailed schedule for her to follow. She followed that thing to a “T” and it went better than she could have imagined – she did say she thought the mother was nuts – until she found herself constantly referencing her schedule to see what to do next. I am sure my parents thought I was certifiable when they came to care for the twins the first time my husband and I went away.
How to make a schedule: I know sounds silly. Sit down and start out at the beginning of your day and work your way through until bedtime and night feedings (if you are still doing this).
Here’s a sample of the first schedule I made (and a peak into my clear psychiatric dysfunction). My twins were 13 months old at the time. You’ll be happy to read that this last time we went away my note was about a page long – I’m getting better!
I know putting “Diaper” on the schedule seems silly, but really how many times have you been saying to yourself “what is wrong with you” only to realize ohhh I forgot to check the diaper! Oh yes there is more! “The entire document” is (was) 6 pages! I know I know! Here is what the other pages coved. By the way I saved this and put it in my girls baby book.
6:00-7:00 am Girls Up
Change clothes/clean up
10:00-11:00 Girls Up
1:00-2:00 pm Diapers
2:00-3:00 Girls Up
Time for bed!
Meals & Snacks: What they ate at each meal, food options, how much milk, and vitamins. Remember that you do the day in and day out, idiot proof your caregivers stay. Tell them what your children like. Do you feed one food at a time? One of my girls would (and still does) shove as much food in her mouth as she possibly can, so we don’t load her plate up. Do you give them silverware to use – where to you keep it? How much vitamin do they get? Do you mix it in juice? Can they have anymore juice throughout the day? One of my girls was really sensitive to citrus. My dad helped us out for a few days once when I had to go out of town on an emergency. He let her eat all the mandarin oranges she wanted and she subsequently ended up with the worst diaper rash I have ever seen. Really not my dad’s fault I should have told him either not to feed them to her or to only give her a set amount.
Changing Clothes/Cleaning Up & Bath time: Where do you do this? Seriously! I would and sometimes still do get my girls dressed in the living room, because this was what worked best for me. Where is everything stored that might be needed? Do you use soap or just water on their faces? Food in the hair can be a huge issue with little ones – is there a special comb to use to get all the food out of their hair? Brushing teeth – what toothpaste how much? Do you let them do it themselves and then take over? Any lotions they need? Any issues with bath time. I warned my parents that bath time had become a “laxative” of sorts for their girls, not to make a big deal about it, and that if they did it the other would freak out. Do you let them play in the tub and for how long? Where are all the necessary bath time supplies? Do you “spackle” (AKA diaper cream) their bottoms before bed? How much water do you put in the tub?
Playtime: What do they like the most, favorite toys, etc? I told my parents to “wear them out” to ensure a good nap and bedtime.
Naps & Bedtime: What is your routine? How long should they nap for? I was pretty crazy about the girls napping for at least an hour. I had one who could sleep forever and one who I swear had slept only 2 hours total her first year of life (ok I am exaggerating – but seriously, she was a work out who has by the way become a really easy toddler!) So if either woke up before an hour I would resettle them per our routine and back to bed. Do they both get up at the same time or do you let the other sleep? Does either need a pacifier or other special toy, blanket, equipment (white noise, closing the blinds) to go to sleep? How long do you let them fuss before you try to resettle them? Are their any special books that you read at bedtime? Do they sit in your laps while you read or do they cruise around the room checking things out? Grandparents may have some sort of idyllic picture in their mind of reading to their grandbaby – warn them so they don’t get frustrated trying to make this some sort of demented “special moment”. Do you say prayers anything else right before lights out?
So what if they won’t go to sleep? What do you do? Do you rock them? (Gasp! Please don’t tell me you do this!) Are there any forbidden no can do (like rocking to sleep a big no no in my house) rules? You should be prepared for your rules to be broken. My parents know about my rocking to sleep rule, but they have done it with one of my girls at least once every time they have taken care of them. I have said nothing, because I love my parents, they do a great job, they are probably nervous about the state my daughter has put herself in, and it is the one thing they feel will help. How do you resettle them (check diapers, pacifier etc)? When all else fails what do you do? A very small number of times I have had to take one of them for a walk in the stroller – very rare, but let your caregiver know what you have done in the past that has worked. Are they sleeping through the night? What do you do for them when they wake at night?
Safety: Where are the completely childproof areas of your home? Where do they seem to get into trouble the most? What should they watch out for? This may all seem very obvious, but it’s not trust me!
Who is their doctor? Where may they be reached? Have you thought about a release to authorize medical care? There are plenty of templates on the Internet HERE is one that I have used in the past.
Pets: Let’s be honest, the person(s) caring for your children should be focusing on your children and nothing more – that’s what you want. Having to walk Fido or feed him should not be a part of the package. So put the dog or any other high maintenance animal in the kennel. Just let your help focus on the kids. You want your caregivers to be napping when the kid’s nap (the one thing you wish you could do) so that they are fresh and ready to go for another round – not dragged out because they had to take care of Fido.
Meals & Other “Sundry” items: Make sure the house is as stocked as possible with things to prepare for meals, snacks etc. Also, have enough diapers, wipes, laundry soap, etc on hand. Where is the thermometer, medications, humidifier etc
Misc: Anything else your caregiver should know – “if they are inconsolable it could be one of three things…..”
I know this all seems a bit neurotic, but as I said you do this every day it’s important to have your little ones stay on their schedule and routine (if you are so lucky to have one at this point). Your children find comfort in knowing what to expect next. Life while you are away will not be as foreign to them and it will be easier for the caregivers staying with them.