Getting ready to travel without your kids

Planning a trip away is the easy part, organising your family to cope in your absence? That's where the real work starts.
Planning a trip away is the easy part, organising your family to cope in your absence? That's where the real work starts. Photo: Getty Images

Next week, I am going away without my three kids. Aside from processing the wave of joy and guilt I feel (I'm going away! Without my kids!!!) there is a huge amount of work to do. As primary caregiver of my children, I have to prepare for those taking over in my absence – my ex, my parents, the babysitter, a couple of friends.

My preparation falls into three categories:

Scheduling

I have put together a schedule of activities during the week. Sport, requiring sports uniform, on five different days for three different kids. Dance lessons, requiring dance clothes (with various shoes) on two different days. Library periods (requiring the regulation 'library bag', because god knows library books can't go in a regular bag). Doctor's appointments. Social arrangements. Oh, and the Parent Information Night at school (and yes, I am utterly crushed to be missing that one).

Instructions

The (rather complex) timetable is just the start. What truly is time consuming is the list of instructions I have put together to ensure the well-being of my children and minimise disruption to their routines. And yes, I know that nothing terrible will happen if my child eats the wrong food or misses the bus one day… but I'm a parent, okay? I'm going to care about these things. And trust me, the list could be much, much longer. In fact, it probably will be by the time I leave.

List:

  • The eight year old needs to eat something green every day. One bite of cucumber is not sufficient. She will claim she's eaten three bites. She's lying.
  • You will need a lot of food available for the 16-year-old to pack in his lunch box. Think 'this must be enough' and then triple it. Then add some more. It still won't be enough. Buy more.
  • The eight-year-old is not allowed chips from the shop on dance days. She will claim she is allowed. Do not be fooled. Give her cucumber.
  • Sports uniforms must be washed quickly so they can be ready for the next sports day. They cannot be worn twice. Trust me on this.
  • The eight-year-old must be in bed by eight fifteen or she will be impossible the next day. For this, you will need to start getting her ready for bed at approximately six thirty.
  • When you think the eight-year-old is brushing her teeth, she is actually talking to her toothbrush. You will need to go and prompt her.
  • When you think the 14-year-old is doing her homework, she is actually staring dreamily into space thinking about cats. You will need to go and rouse her.
  • When you think the 16-year-old is doing drug deals or watching porn in his room, he is actually playing Minecraft. You won't need to worry.
  • The eight-year-old does have homework, no matter what she tells you.
  • The 14-year-old does not just have 'fifteen minutes' of homework, no matter what she tells you.
  • The girls will eat cutlets/chicken/salmon but the 16-year-old won't. The eldest two will eat sausages/spaghetti/roast beef but the eight-year -ld won't. The 16-year-old and eight-year-old will eat fried fish but the 14-year-old won't. They will all eat schnitzel.
  • The 14-year-old needs nose spray every night or she will sneeze.
  • The eight year old's room needs vacuuming every other night or she will sneeze.
  • The kids need to be at the bus stop by 7.40am every morning. Good luck with that.

Packing for myself

Oh please. That's the easiest part of all.