Business travel. It was a part of my vocabulary for so long that it was just called "work". It was my version of Up In The Air. I had miles and stayed one night in each city. Some days I wake up to my life now and have truly realize how different they are. Next month this mama will go on a business trip to Dallas for the Family Travel Conference and where my travel used to be the norm there are more kids involved now and we're out of practice so I've already thought about what I need to do to get ready.
Plan meals and snacks. My husband is capable of food preparation so I don't want to insinuate that I think that all men left to their own devices need meals left so the kids eat something other than Cocoa Puffs. However, as any parent of a baby and a toddler can attest to when they outnumber you it's best to have a plan in place. For breakfasts I fill little microwave safe tupperware containers with 1/4 cup of oatmeal (from bulk) each, add 1/2 cup water, microwave, stir in a spoon full of Nutella & boom the toddler has breakfast. Another favorite is pancakes so whenever I make a batch I take a few extra, freeze them, and then bag them up. A minute in the microwave and they're ready to go. Snacks are portioned out into plastic containers in the pantry so they can be handed immediately to cranky toddlers, especially handy when you're simultaneously feeding a baby. For dinners, I'll be stocking my freezer with Homemade Freezer Burritos & Kale Chicken Burritos for my husband and frozen gnocchi for the toddler. Round this all out with freezer biscuits and a couple loaves of homemade bread and they'll make it out fed and sane.
Clean out the car & preload it with "going out" stuff. The brave man that he is my husband brings the kids out into public. He and I have both realized that behaviors tend to be better when our kids are out and about. The car will be cleaned out and I'll be leaving a tote of water, snacks, extra hats & mittens, a change of clothes for everyone (including him), and the handy dandy child entertainment center that I created out of one of those "as seen on tv" wonderfiles. Add a baby carrier and our Maclaren Traveler stroller base to that and he is ready to go anywhere.
Make a list for myself and keep updating it. Start packing my suitcase. True confession, I am a last minute packer. I may have lists and ideas but I start chucking things in a suitcase the day I leave. I know that I can't do this anymore. It used to be fine for me to run around like a maniac last second but now it stresses the kids out. So, if I want an easy exit I need to stay on target and start putting things in the suitcase as I think of them. If it's something I'll need before the trip I need to add it to my list so I remember to pack it later.
Let folks know I'll be out of town. Call it some kind of crazy gender stereotype but when I head out of town and folks know it my husband is inundated with offers of assistance. Mysteriously when my husband heads off for multiple days this does not happen for me.... extensive research must be done on this anomaly.
Set up the "battle station". This one is definitely specific to our family but our home is three small floors. The bottom one is one large room with a bathroom that we use as a guest area/play area. The dog and rabbit cages are down there as is a couch and bed. When one person goes out of town a lot of times we use this space to "hunker down" with the kids. It's like a mini vacation. We put outfits in the drawers down there, diapers and potty accessories are set up down there, the pack and play is opened up and toys are set out. Then everyone can sleep in the same room and eyes are on both kids at all times.
What do you do when you travel without your family?