Kidless vacations crucial for couples

  • By Karen Schwartz Associated Press
  • Sunday, February 24, 2013 2:46pm
  • Life

In 12 years, my husband and I have had two vacations without our daughter. Once, we drove 200 miles to drop her at her godparents; the other time, her grandfather flew 850 miles on an $800 plane ticket to spell us.

Oh, how we envy parents who casually plan romantic getaways sans kids.

“A lot of things have to go right for parents to be able to go away together, leave their kids home and feel comfortable while they’re away,” said Stephanie Newman, a New York-based psychologist and author.

Newman, 48, herself the mother of two, encourages couples to take time for themselves. Nevertheless, she hears during therapy sessions from parents who have a hard time making that a reality.

“It’s a social issue,” she said. More women work outside the home; grandparents might not have traditional retirements; kids are heavily scheduled, making it more difficult for someone to step in; and our increasingly mobile society weakens our support network.

Still, we’re parents, so by definition, we’re resourceful. We might not do it often, but once in a while, we beg, bribe, plead, pay and juggle to find childcare for that important couple’s vacation.

Some parents in a bind will even hire a stranger through an agency, said Candi Wingate, president of the nationwide Nannies4Hire.

When my father visited from Calgary, Canada, I asked him to come a week early and took him through the daily paces. I also left a long list of emergency numbers, provided a spreadsheet of drop-off and pickup times and locations for my daughter; programmed addresses into my car’s GPS in case he got lost; and provided a printout of food I had prepared and frozen.

I thought I’d gone over the top until I spoke with Linda Boden, 43, of Minneapolis. She has traveled every few years with her husband, often out of the country, leaving their two children to be cared for in a tightly choreographed program.

Boden used a combination of sitters at her house so that she didn’t overburden anyone. Weekends were handled alternately by the local set of retired grandparents and the still-working grandparents who drove in from more than two hours away. Weekdays were covered by their regular sitter, who was paid about $100 a night.

She color-coded her spreadsheets, one color for each set of caretakers, and since her son can’t eat gluten, she fussed over food, left lengthy dietary instructions, and even left the children’s snacks organized in the pantry in labeled individual plastic containers.

While not every parent goes to such extremes, you will need to provide sitters with basics like your contact information and itinerary, along with cash or a debit card for food, gas and incidentals.

It’s also important to plan for emergencies. Leave contact information for doctors and dentists, along with copies of medical insurance cards and a note authorizing emergency treatment or a health care proxy form.

Notify schools, sports teams and carpools that someone else will be picking up your child. Finally, consider what would happen if you and your spouse were incapacitated or killed: Does your sitter know how to reach your child’s legal guardian, and does the guardian know where the original legal papers are kept?

What do the caretakers think about all this?

“Micromanaging does get tiresome sometimes,” admitted my 81-year-old father, Jerry Schwartz. But, he added, by having everything laid out, “I don’t have to really work at it. I can just enjoy the experience.”

My father said some of his friends “say they don’t have the patience” to spend extended time with their grandchildren.

Now that he’s had the experience, would he do it again?

In a heartbeat, he said: “She’s growing up so fast if I don’t do it soon, I won’t have the opportunity.”

I think I’ll go pack.

More in Life

Using a rod to assist in running wiring through an attic space, Don Thomas, of R&D Handyman Service, works on installing a ceiling fan at a home in SE Everett on Monday, July 24, 2017 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
                                Don Thomas of R&D Handyman Service installs a ceiling fan at a home in southeast Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
When fall chores loom, just hand them to the handyman

Here are three local businesses that can help you prepare your home for the rainy season.

And this year’s winners of Everett’s Monte Cristo Awards are…

The awards recognize local homeowners and businesses that take special care of their properties.

‘Happy Death Day’ applies ‘Groundhog Day’ premise on horror genre

Smart writing and Jessica Rothe’s performance make this worth seeing.

Adventurer 1st to finish Race to Alaska on stand-up paddleboard

Karl Kruger will speak about his trip at the Everett Mountaineers Banquet on Nov. 4 in Lynnwood.

Therapy helped ease debilitating pain after injury

Columnist Jennifer Bardsley shares her experiences with complex regional pain syndrome.

How to prune a hydrangea: An exception to the pruning rule

It helps to think of a growing blackberry vine when you’re about to cut back this blooming shrub.

Visiting Germany’s Lutherland, birthplace of Reformation

The sights include the church where the first Protestant service took place in 1521.

Can you top ‘Hamilton’? Author Ron Chernow is about to find out

The notable writer’s latest book, published Oct. 10, is a lengthy biography on Ulysses S. Grant.

Most Read