i have a great time being a mom. i’m allowed to make as many funny faces as i want; i get to sing songs all day; i get cuddles when the mood strikes my daughter. it’s really, really great.
and then sometimes it hits me that things are never going back to the way they were. i can’t just spend an entire day wandering around the city with a friend. working in the yard takes extreme strategy and planning. happy hours are no longer spontaneous. i can’t sleep in.
it’s not that these things even come close to how awesome having my baby is…in comparison, they’re nothing. i’d give up even more for that little girl of mine. but i still miss them. that tiny, selfish part of me misses being able to go and do whatever i want, whenever i want.
and that’s okay i think. i think that missing it keeps me connected to the part of myself that is just me. not mom, not milk machine, not bottle washer, not baby food maker, not diaper washer. those things that i miss are just for me. and if i miss them, it means i remember them, and by remembering i stay connected to that old part of myself.
so yes, i miss the way it used to be. but i miss it in the way i miss a vacation; with fond memories and an urge to go back and visit for a while, but really knowing that i’d much rather be home.
there are a lot of posts out there about how to travel with your baby, and with good reason – when you get on a plane or take road trip with a baby, you need all the tips you can get. but there are parents who travel, whether for work or for fun, without their baby. this post is for you.
Mister Man and i recently took a trip to st. john in the virgin islands, all by our little lonesome selves (if you follow me on instagram, you can see those tidbits that i haven’t posted about yet). we have a special place in our hearts for st. john, it’s where we took our honeymoon, and we plan on going back as often as we can. this trip was planned before we even got pregnant with amelia, and the timing just worked out that she would be old enough to leave with our parents. you see, for us, it’s not really a vacation if you bring a baby along. for one, they can’t remember anything about the trip, so them being there doesn’t do a whole lot for them. and two, when you bring a baby on vacation (at least for us), you just move the normal routine to a different location with less amenities than you have at home. that just isn’t relaxing for us (and we have brought her with us on a family vacation already so i’m not just saying this as an assumption).
so we went on a vacation without our little joy. and it was wonderful.
i missed her, of course i missed her. i couldn’t wait to get home to her at the end of that week. but i didn’t cry because i couldn’t stand to be away from her. i didn’t call our parents every hour, or even every day. i didn’t really even worry about her. instead, i soaked in the alone time with my husband. i enjoyed being on my own schedule for six whole days. i gave thanks for our parents, who i trust my daughter with absolutely.
for Mister Man and me, time together makes us better parents. our marriage comes before our parenting, because if we aren’t good at being husband and wife, then we won’t be good at being mom and dad. this vacation couldn’t have come at a better time. we came back feeling refreshed and ready to be even better parents to amelia than when we left, because we felt stronger as a couple.
all that being said, here are the things that helped us on our first vacation without our baby:
1) pumping on a schedule: if you’re still breastfeeding your baby, and you want to continue when you get back/not be incredibly uncomfortable on vacation, bring your pump. and make it a point to stay on as much of a schedule as possible. once you’re at your destination, it’s usually not too hard. you can pump during breaks from the beach, or in the car en route to your next tourist spot. the hardest part is finding places to pump when in transit. some airports have fabulous pumping rooms (MSP has a lactation room fit for beyonce), while some…don’t (MIA needs to do some work on their family restrooms). find a family restroom or an empty gate or terminal in a pinch.
2) bring the right accessories: when you pump, you’re going to have milk. and hopefully you can bring that milk back with you. you’re going to need plastic bags, a cooler bag, and some ice. if you have plastic bags, you can carry empty ones with you and ask for ice from restaurants or the flight attendants when you’re away from your hotel or in transit. a cooler bag comes in handy as a carry-on when you’re bringing the milk back with you. just put the milk in with bags of ice, extra bags and your pump parts, and you’re set for the trip home. i had no issue getting my milk through security, and no one should, at least if you’re flying through the u.s.
3) write out baby’s schedule: this is for your own peace of mind. i know that my parents and my in-laws know amelia’s schedule. and to be honest, if they fudged it a bit, i wouldn’t mind at all. but knowing that i had shared all the necessary information made me feel so much better. so write it all down. the nap quirks, food suggestions, all of it. it will help.
4) leave a medical directive: leave a note stating that you give permission to whoever your baby’s caretakers are to make necessary medical decisions for your baby on your behalf. include your baby’s insurance information in the note, but leave the insurance card as well. include the information for your pediatrician and their office too. this way, if your caretaker has to take the little one to the doctor, or call the nurse line, or God forbid bring them to the hospital, they can make any calls they need to make on your behalf before getting a hold of you/you arrive home.
5) sleep in: this is probably the most important tip i have. if you go on vacation without your baby, SLEEP IN. for lots of people, i’m sure this is a given, but if you’re anything life us, you need a little push. we are the type of couple who enjoy getting up and enjoying coffee on the terrace on vacation, and getting an early-ish start on the day. we forced ourselves to take it slow and easy this time, and i’m so happy we did. getting full nights of sleep has never felt so amazing, because i could still get up at my own pace. and that my friends, is what heaven is.
i highly recommend some substantial time away as a couple when you’re newish parents. whether that’s within the first year or the first 18 months, do it sooner than later. your baby won’t hate you for leaving, and your marriage will thank you. date night can only get you so far, so get away for some quality time and some quality sleep. as always, i’m happy to answer any questions anyone has on traveling without your babe (or anything else!), so email me at hooleywithaz at gmail dot com.
i feel like i say this every single month, but holy crap does time go faster as they get older! when your baby can interact with you instead of just waiting to be entertained by you, life just opens up into this wonderful new thing. i’m sure the spring weather helps a bit too…thank you for coming back into our lives late afternoon walks!
amelia is seriously the funniest little person ever. she has such a fun, goofy personality coming out. she loves to watch EVERYTHING happen, and is so interested in how things work. she could sit with something she is interested in for a good 15 minutes before getting bored. and oh my gosh she learned to make this cooing sound that my father-in-law taught her, and it’s probably my favorite sound in the whole world.
mister man and i left for our first getaway without her last week, and i was so nervous that i wouldn’t be able to handle being away from her for six days. but you know what, i totally could handle it. i missed her tons, but being alone with my husband for that long was so good for us, and it only made us more refreshed to come back and be good parents for her. she’s growing so fast now that she seemed much more mature when we got back, but all the changes were so much fun.
she is starting to recognize that certain words mean things, and she is starting to say the same sounds over and over. when we say “amelia”, she turns to look at us. she has a very convincing sound that sounds a lot like “light” (“ite”) when she looks at the lights in our house. she loves to say “dadada” often and in this hilarious crazed way. “mama” is nowhere near happening, but that’s cool…
i taught her how to do “soooo big!” the other day, and now i am THAT mom. the one who can’t stop asking her baby how big they are, just to get a tiny little arm raise in response. my daughter may be sick of it already, so i may need to be careful. is it wrong that i refer to things like this as teaching her tricks? i keep referring to her teething toys as chew toys, but i swear i know she isn’t a dog.
i am beyond excited to see how much she grows in the next four months before she turns one (!). there will be walking and falling and more food and swimming and it’s just all so much fun. how can one tiny person be so much fun??
dearest amelia. even though your dad and i have been running on about two hours of sleep for the past few days thanks to your teeth, we still love you more than life itself. sleep pales in comparison to the joy you bring us everyday, and that includes the “bad” days. although how bad could a day possibly be with you in it? thanks for loving us back now that you have an opinion on the subject. you’re our favorite.