First Trip Without Baby: Leaving an Instruction Manual

Feb 23, 2017

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Whether you first leave your baby for an overnight trip away when they are five weeks old, five months old, or five years old, it is probably going to be a little tough. Even if you are beyond ready for a little kid-free time, or even just time with your other kids, it is still an unquestionably huge transition for you and them. I’m about to go through this transition for the first time with my second daughter, and while I have been through this once before with my first daughter, I’ll withhold giving too much “first time away” advice before we both survive this big milestone.


However, there is one tip that works for me when I first leave a little one behind that I feel totally comfortable sharing now since its jinxing potential is low. This tip is that when you first leave your baby for a trip away, consider writing an instruction manual for those caring for him or her without you…even if they don’t really need it.

Loves cupcakes, snuggles, and climbing. How could you leave her behind?
Loves cupcakes, icing, snuggles, and climbing. How could you leave her behind?

If you write down everything that others need to know to get your little one through a normal day and night, you can breathe easier knowing they have all the information they should need, they know what to expect, and perhaps best of all, you have a snapshot in time to save for yourself. It’s the last part that really is the key long term.

I don’t know about you, but with kiddo #2 it is been so much harder to find the time to mark things down in the baby book like what the first words, favorite foods, etc. However, if you take the 30 minutes to write out an instruction manual of sorts, then you have everything captured right there beyond just the first words of favorite toys. You can print out a copy and stick in the pocket of the baby book for safe keeping.

Thank goodness for iPhone photos!

While this is the first time I will leave my 19 month old behind, it’s not the first time I have written up one of these guides. I have done it before for my second daughter when a grandparent has come to stay with us and help out. I also have several from when my first daughter stayed with her grandparents while we were periodically away in her first few years. I now have all of those moments in time captured for myself and my daughters to look back on in the future. Otherwise it can be so very easy for those early months and years to mesh together in a bit of a blur.

Writing a Baby Instruction Manual

If you want to leave a guide for those caring for your kiddos while you are away, here are some good things you might want to include (even if they already know most or all of it!):

  • Overview of your kid’s personality and developmental stage
  • Walk through a normal day and schedule including wake-up times, naps, feedings, meals, playtimes, and bedtime…
  • Listing of favorite and least favorite foods, snacks, and drinks
  • Favorite toys, games, and activities, as well as those they don’t enjoy very much
  • Tips if things go wrong including dealing with discipline, bad moods, or bad days
  • Highlight of where the little one is developmentally with milestones like rolling over, walking, words they can say, etc.
  • Contact information and consents for doctor’s, babysitters, teachers, and schools

While there is no magic length, most of my “baby instructional manuals” end up around 1,000 words long, which may seem like massive helicopter parent overkill, or woefully inadequate when talking about someone taking over care for a little living human being.

Does anyone else leave behind an instruction manual or similar on their first trips without the baby along for the ride? What type of info do you write down for those who pick up where you leave off?

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