As a momma of several little kiddos- and a business owner- I don't often go out of town. Especially on my own. It's hard for the kids to have mom gone, it's hard for Soren to get anything done (like work!) and three kids is a lot of kids to arrange childcare for. I've accepted this fact and I really love my day to day activities. But if I do get the chance to get away- I take it!
Last Fall I went to San Fransisco to visit Stitch Fix for three days and it was amazing. I had the best time meeting other bloggers, learning about Stitch Fix, site seeing in San Fransisco and having some me-time. But after those glorious three days, I came home to a uh....a mess- to put it very lightly. Knox (who was one at the time) got sick while I was gone and my babysitter that I had lined up also got sick and couldn't help. Soren was on his own for three days with the kids and a ton of work to do as we had just started Nickel & Suede. They all survived- but the house almost didn't. I immediately regretted going and what should have been a fun, "Mom's home!" turned into me crying and just being completely overwhelmed by what I came home to clean up. I genuinely do think they did their best while I was gone and to clean up before I got home, but it certainly didn't work for me.
Why am I bringing this up now? Fast forward to this Summer. In June I made plans to go to Salt Lake for ALT Summit for three days. I really wanted to go and I knew it would be good for the blog and for Nickel & Suede, but I was hesitant to leave the boys on their own again. I just couldn't handle the thought of coming home to clean up after a tornado. So I took precautionary measures in advance. I felt like they were a little extreme at the time- but I can't even tell you how much they worked! You can find my methods below
1. Tape the kitchen drawers shut. Yes, I took packing tape and I taped the silverware drawer, the kids' cup drawer and all of the plates and cups filled cupboards shut. Then I left orders that they were to stay taped until I returned. Instead the family was allowed to use the copious amounts of disposable plates, cups, and flatware that I left out on the otherwise clutter-free counter. This meant the trash filled up quickly, but the sink and the counters stayed dish free.
2. Pre-order food. I pre-ordered dinner for the family every night I was gone- except one, and that night they were instructed to eat out. The first night Papa John's showed up at 5:30 and the next night Jimmy John's showed up. I selected, paid for and scheduled the food to show up. It saved my husband from stressing about dinner and it saved me from pre-making dinners that they wouldn't eat anyways.
3. Set up babysitters and back up babysitters. When I went to ALT it was during the Summer and so I had a lot more options for scheduling help for Soren during the day. My mom took the kids for some of the time I was gone and then I had one of our regular school-age babysitters come over to our house and play with the kids while Knox napped and Soren worked. I also had a few friends in the reserves in case something happened and I needed a back up. AND I also left instructions for our teenage babysitter to have the boys clean up their toys and put laundry in baskets before she left each day.
4. Stock the fringe and pantry with snacks, cereal and sandwich ingredients. If all else fails, we are a cereal and sandwich family. The kids can get their own cereal and make their own sandwiches so having plenty of bread, milk, peanut butter and jelly means there are easy options for food. I also stocked the house with squeezy yogurt, grapes, string cheese, snap peas and other healthy snack options.
5. Write a schedule that has very few musts. Any schedule I make rarely happens without me there. So before I left, I did write a schedule and post it on the fridge- but it had very few musts. I made it pretty simple and so that if no one looked at it, no one was any worse off. But if they did need to know something like when a babysitter or food was showing up- they could find it.
I came home from my trip with low expectations, but I was blown away. The house was picked up! Laundry was in baskets, the sink was basically empty and the drawers had stayed shut. Because I had limited the food prep and the dirty dishes, Soren was able to keep up with picking up and the rest of what needed to happen. It was such a nice thing to come home to! I know that every family is different and maybe your husband is the one that has an easy time keeping up with laundry, dishes, dinner and kids- but if you are more like us- these tips might help!
What tips do you have for going out of town? How do you help things run smoothly while you are gone?