Our recently expanded household crossed a major threshold this past month. I am not talking about the baby’s first steps, first words or first ER trip (which happened as well). Nope, I’m referring to mommy’s first overnight business trip, leaving daddy and the just weaned baby home to fend for ourselves.
Routines and tasks that had been accomplished with 2 sets of arms are suddenly forced to get by with only half that. This presents many challenges, some of which are unique for an “Amateur Trophy Husband”. I am not sure who was more nervous about the trip – Mommy with separation anxiety, Daddy with his completely useless nipples, or the grandmother who believes daddy is in constant need of adult supervision. (For the record, I don’t believe I am in need of “constant” adult supervision: just occasional)
Somehow everyone came out of the experience victorious and unscathed . . .but not without moments of tension. Here is our story with some tips that we had to learn the hard way, but you don’t have to:
Nobody jumps into the deep end of the pool for their first swim lesson so for the sake of your partner’s sanity, try to avoid having your first post baby work trip be a three week trip to Asia.
If you’re able to, start with a short trip (1-2 nights) instead of a full week away. This gives both parents an opportunity to test the waters, but it’s short enough that no permanent damage is done.
Especially when substituting a bedtime bottle from daddy for mommy’s bedtime nursing. You know that disappointment you feel when you are salivating for a rare juicy steak but your friends take you out to that new vegan Indian restaurant? “Try the tofu makhani curry! It tastes just like steak!” No. No it doesn’t.
Well that was pretty much Grayson’s reaction when he realized he was getting a silicone replacement for his mommy’s favorite body part. It is actually rather amazing how clearly a baby can communicate their feelings simply through facial expressions and screaming. After the initial shock, however, I think Grayson actually preferred the easy-to-drink bottle before bed opposed to the more labor intensive nursing.
If you have a two parent bedtime routine, or if the parent traveling is the one who puts you baby/child to bed, test out the new routine a night or two before going on the trip. This could help ease baby/child into a new routine or give you a chance to iron out any wrinkles before your partner is gone.
It’s ok to need help, especially if it’s a longer trip. If you can’t get a babysitter, even a mother’s helper to keep your baby/child occupied for a few hours is worth it. Burn-out is a real thing and so is baby related stress induced hair loss. Making plans to take your toddler along on errands or to meet up with friends is like trying to finalize plans with that annoying friend that only responds “Maybe” to every Evite or Facebook invite you send them. If you need to bring the little ones along on your errands, learn to be flexible with your scheduling and try to avoid scheduling meetings too close together.
Set Expectations Prior to The Trip
Ok, so maybe grandma had a point about daddy needing “adult supervision” once in awhile. Normally, mommy enforces strict guidelines about my running unsupervised with the child through the toy aisles at the store. Especially when new toys are released to coincide with a new Star Wars movie.
This includes trying adventurous new foods while mommy is out of town as well. By “New” I of course mean “Bar” and by “Food” I of course mean “Fried Food”. Before anyone gets too upset, I am joking . . . mostly. We have exposed our little human expansion pack to many different types of food so far and have yet to find anything this kid does not like to eat. Grayson sort of morphs into a real-life Hungry Hungry Hippo game whenever any food of any type is placed on his high chair tray.
If mommy doesn’t want you eating pizza every night or buying all the toys at Target, guidelines should be set and agreed upon prior to the trip. I heard a story recently where a hapless daddy took his 3-year-old in for a haircut and gave him a buzz cut. I don’t think the mommy is speaking to him for a few months. But if my wife doesn’t tell me not to buy Star Wars toys, that’s her fault right?
While it seems like a vacation for your partner, they’re away from home and hopefully miss you too. Facetime, Google Hangouts, and other video conferencing applications are great for connecting. We connect with mommy at work a few times a week through Google Hangouts and sometimes mommy can even keep the baby entertained while daddy scarfs down some food. Make sure that you test your tech prior to leaving and get a hotel with decent WiFi.
Last & Most Important Helpful Hint: Say Goodbye and Go
My wife has more separation anxiety than the baby, so saying goodbye is tough (she literally hugs the dog and cats prior to her trips and has been for years). Give a hug, kiss and quick goodbye and go. Lingering good byes just make it harder for everyone.
What do you think of our tips? What are some that we may have missed that have worked well for you and your family?