Jaunting Sisters

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Fleeing the Country...Without My Baby

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No, I am not a weary soul seeking refuge from an oppressive government. I'm just vacationing out of the country for the first time without my one-year-old daughter.

Elinor & Jill flying to Orlando I'm simultaneously filled with utter excitement and sheer terror.

Having a baby has been my most extraordinary adventure to date. My daughter Elinor is the light of my life, and the apple of my husband's eye. But for this travel-lover, my first year as a mother has been an adjustment. Instead of an annual European adventure, I have been content to take Elinor on a few domestic trips. Florida twice to visit family; I went with my sister Jenny to NYC for two days when Elinor was four-months-old; Nick and I did a long weekend alone in Indianapolis when she was eight-months-old. We even tried a six-hour road trip in May to a mountain cabin to meet up with some good friends and their daughters. Elinor does great on these trips, but I confess I had wished to do more with her. I had thoughts of us taking her on a European cruise, or renting a small, affordable villa somewhere in a foreign countryside. Just doing something outside of the good ole U.S. of A.

Reality isn't quite as easy as that. I work for myself, so taking time off to have a baby, and then learning to readjust schedules to care for Elinor at home (with a little assistance from my own mommy) and work during her naptimes has presented its own set of challenges, not the least of which is an income change. Factor that into the equation of moving the week I gave birth into a house we semi-renovated and has needed countless repairs and improvements ever since, our travel fund has been less-than-overflowing. Not to mention, creating my daughter's college fund and obtaining all the gear and clothing required to raise a wee one. We're not hard up for cash, it's just that our home and daughter's future obviously take priority in the disposable income column.

Elinor & Jill at Downtown Disney in Orlando Nick & Elinor boarding a plane in Punta Gorda, FL Jill & Elinor on a plane to Florida in July 2013

But now that Elinor turned a year, Nick and I have been itching to travel to a romantic locale, in a country we've not yet visited. I've been trying to travel internationally with my oldest sister Julie for quite some time, but our baby schedules have never matched up (Julie has a six, three and almost two-year-old). Someone was always pregnant or nursing at the wrong time to coordinate anything realistic. The sun has finally shone on this particular autumn (or spring in South America!) and the Southern Hemisphere stars have aligned for Julie and her husband Jeff to show Nick and me around the gorgeous wine country of Mendoza, Argentina this coming October (They have been twice before in the last several years, including last October with Jenny).

Flights, hotels, tours, cooking classes and tastings are all booked. We depart in less than three weeks, and I cannot convey my sheer delight and excitement about getting some time away. Time away where no one is dependent upon me, where I don't have meals to cook and a house to keep less-than-spotless. Where I'm not cleaning up the high chair five times a day and loading up the dishwasher AGAIN. Where I get that nervous exhilaration of exploring a new country, of sampling a local culture and immersing myself in a new way of life.

Did I mention I'm terrified? That I'm a nervous wreck? I've only been away from Elinor for three nights at the most and this time we'll be gone for eight. Out of the country. A thousand miles away. Did I mention that? If Elinor gets sick, God forbid, or I can't stand another moment away, that's just too bad. I can't run home.

She's in that stage where she's an absolute doll baby and a through-and-through mama's girl, much to her loving father's chagrin. It's just her age, I guess. I weaned her a month ago, and that has almost made her more clingy, unfortunately. How in the world did I think I could leave her?

I know I'm acting bipolar about this, and really there's no legitimate reason for it. I'm leaving her with my parents (Nana and Pop-Pop) for the first two days, and then with my in-laws (Sheshe and Granddad) for the next six days. Elinor is crazy about all of them. And the grandparents are all gaga over her. I know Elinor will be fine; she'll be surrounded by people who love her like no one else.

In truth, I'm afraid of the backlash when I return. When I went to New York for two days without her, she punished me for another two days by not making eye contact. So I'm afraid she'll hold a grudge again. And I'm afraid she'll pick up some bad habits, like going to bed later and waking up earlier, or just acting out from typical grandparent over-indulgence.

Honestly, I'm just trying not to think about leaving her and trying to focus on preparing for the trip: packing my luggage, writing detailed schedules and instructions for Elinor, leaving grocery lists and money for the grandparents, and packing for the baby.

How will I survive? By focusing on why I planned the trip in the first place: romantic time with my hottie husband, wine tastings with Julie and bro-in-law Jeff, relaxing in the Park Hyatt in the midst of the Andes. I mean, really, what do I have to worry about?

Tips for Vacationing Sans Baby:

  • Make sure you have a current will
  • Have signed medical release documents for the babysitter to take your child to the doctor (your pediatrician may have a separate one that needs to be filled out too)
  • Leave a list of fun activities and the money to accomplish them (Maybe a zoo trip or storytime at the library)
  • Make sure the babysitter knows how to operate all baby equipment (installing car seats and strapping in child, setting up and collapsing the stroller, working the video monitor, running your washing machine, etc.)
  • Write a detailed schedule with amounts and types of foods, nap times, typical play activities, etc.
  • If your child is not staying at your house, make sure the babysitter's house is kid-proofed properly
  • Pack early. Plan on having yours and your child's bags mostly packed about 2 days before to avoid last minute rushing and forgotten essentials.
  • Plan as much family time the week before you leave as possible. Make sure to get some good cuddle time in to last you throughout your trip.

More to come post-trip! Wish me luck!

© 2013 Jaunting Sisters.
Written on Thursday, 26 September 2013 15:07 by Jill Kerr Tepe

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