SILVER SPRING, Md, August 23, 2012 – At some point, most parents leave their children with a family member, nanny, or long-term sitter and take a vacation alone. Then again, some parents may have to leave their children for work reasons. Whatever your reason for traveling without your children there are things you need to consider and prepare for beyond the luggage check-list.
Sure, you have a fresh case of diapers ready to go, you have packed extra clothes and lovingly selected favorite books and toys to keep your little one company while you are away. But many of the most important things that parents need to prepare and leave with their children’s caretakers are simply overlooked. Here’s a list of these important items.
List of dietary restrictions and allergies
Allergies can be life threatening for some people. Others have digestive issues with certain foods. As allergies have been on the rise in children in recent years, it is important to clearly communicate to your child’s caretaker any dietary considerations that need to be made.
List of people your child is allowed to see
Leaving a list of people that are known to your child and that you know are safe to be around helps prevent anyone posing as a friend or family member in your absence. This is also a helpful step when leaving older children. You can designate which friends are allowed over, as well as specify where your child is not allowed to go.
Emergency contact information and itinerary
You make sure the babysitter knows how to get a hold of you when you are leaving for a few hours, but what about a few days. Beyond simple measures like cell phone number, leave hotel contact information. That way, if something happens to your phone you are still reachable.
Also, make sure you leave an itinerary with flight information, travel plans for excursions, hotel information, ship name if going on a cruise, and if traveling to multiple destinations, where you will be on which days. If anything were to happen, having this information ensures that you can be contacted.
Medical records and health insurance card
While this is generally a good idea, it is even more important for children with special medical conditions, severe allergies, or that are accident or illness prone. Make sure your child’s caretaker has medical information necessary and the name, phone number and address of your pediatrician and any specialists your child may have. Remember, if you have not left your child’s health insurance card, you may come home to a large stack of bills if medical care is required.
Medical Consent Form
This is something most parents do not think about and often take for granted. If your child becomes sick or is injured he may not be able to get the proper care as quickly as possible unless you have given the caretaker permission in writing to obtain medical care. Since children are minors, only their legal guardians have the right to make medical decisions for them. If you are away and cannot be immediately reached some treatments may be delayed until the medical professional can speak to you directly. A signed letter specifying that a specific named person has permission to obtain medical care for your child during a stated period of time gives the caretaker authority to make medical decisions for your child in the event that he needs a doctor in your absence. Check your state’s laws for what constitutes a legal medical consent form.
Last Will & Testament
While it may seem like a morbid thought as you are preparing for vacation, having your Will prepared and up-to-date is crucial. No one ever knows what might happen on a trip or even on the way to the airport. To protect your children, have your will prepared to specify who gets what and designate a guardian for your children.
Make sure you talk to that person and get him or her to agree in advance. This way, in the event of your death, there are clear directions for the care of your children and estate, and your children stay out of the foster system or are not bounced around from relative to relative.
Finally, set a check-in schedule with your caregiver. Identify times when you will contact your family to make sure everything is going okay. Not only will that give the caregiver a time when he can ask non-emergency questions as they come up, it will also give you peace of mind.
Traveling can be enjoyable or stressful. Do not let unneeded problems at home ruin your travel. Take these steps to prepare and you can have a little peace-of-mind.
Follow Brighid on Twitter at @BrighidMoret and receive updates when new columns post on Facebook. Read more about first time parenting issues in Parenting the First Time Through at The Communities at The Washington Times.
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