I arrived back from Malaysia in the early hours of Monday morning. I have had some amazing opportunities this year via blogging for which I am grateful and attending the Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards was one of them.

Planning With Kids wasn’t a finalist, but I was very proud to be in Kuala Lumpur to help celebrate fellow Aussie Blogger, Christie from Childhood 101 go back to back and win the parenting category again in 2011!

Some of these recent travel opportunities have meant flying solo and leaving the family behind. To make sure the impact on the kids is minimised and home life runs as smoothly as possible in my absence, there have been certain activities I have undertaken before I have left.

Where I Am Going

Flying Solo -
I have found it really important for the kids to understand where it is exactly that I am going.

For my littlies visual works best, so I print out a map of where I am going in relation to Australia. We put it up in a prominent place before I go, so we can talk the country, the length of the flight etc.

What I Am Doing

Flying Solo - what I am doing
The time difference to Malaysia was 3 hours behind, Los Angeles was 11, so both times I have made a conversion chart. This lets the kids know what time it is where I am, in relation to key events through out their day. For example when they are having breakfast at 6.30am, it will be the middle of the night for me.

I also list the days I am away and my key activities for each day. The kids then know what I am up to and feel a little more connected and informed about why I am away.

A Reminder Of Me

I only did this for my longer trip, but my daughter does miss me quite a lot when I go away. I gave her a t-shirt of mine, which I had sprayed with my perfume and she actually slept in it for the first few nights I was away. Having something that was mine and smelt like me was a comfort to her at the end of the day, when she was more likely to be tired and more emotional.

Notes From Me

Flying Solo - Notes for the kids
My dear friend Belinda gave me this tip before I went away. I printed out the lovely lunch box notes from Picklebums and wrote six notes for the youngest three children. I placed them in envelopes and gave them to their dad to disperse as he felt they needed them.

They adored waking up to find a note at their seat at the breakfast table, or one in their lunchbox. My daughter kept all the notes and stuck them on the wall near her bed.

Kids Schedules

Flying Solo - kids schedules
There are a lot of activities that go in to our weeks and to make it as easy as possible for those dad to get a handle on what is happening, I put together daily schedules. I also arranged where I could for help with pickups / drop offs etc to reduce the running around where possible. This was also noted on the schedules so it was clear who was doing what.

I also included a list of contacts for each place the kids attended eg kinder , school, occasional care etc so if dad happened to get stuck at all he had numbers of other parents who could help him out if needed (in the end Mr I did some helping out to others!)

Stocked Pantry

Flying Solo - Pantry Stock Up
I made sure the pantry was well stocked with all the essentials. Using the pantry checklists makes this very easy to do.

Stocked Freezer

freezer
I like to have the freezer stacked with home cooked food, so getting a meal together for Mr I on his own is as easy as possible.

You can see the type of meals and snacks I freeze up in my newsletter from a couple of months ago Simple Recipes You Can Cook For The Freezer.

Clear diary upon return

Making sure that I have time to spend with the kids when I get back and that there is as little as possible running around for me to do. It can be quite intense coming back to the littlest ones after time away, lots of sitting on my knee, swapping tales and playing games – all things I want to be able to do without the worry of appointments and commitments.

What other tips would you add to help prepare the family for your absence?

In my next post I will share some photos and tales from the fantastic time I had in Malaysia. I flew to Malaysia courtesy of AirAsiaX. AirAsia X is part of the low cost airline group Air Asia and they cover flights in and around Asia that are greater than 4 hours. Their tag line is “Now everyone can fly” and if you check out the AirAsiaAustralia facebook page where they advertise some of their specials you will see why.

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10 comments...read them below or add one

  • Caz December 20, 2011 at 7:53 am

    You are a very well prepared and loving mum. Right now I wish my freezer looked like that and I’m not even going away!!! enjoy your time with the little people.

    • PlanningQueen December 20, 2011 at 7:55 am

      Thanks Caz! I do miss the kids greatly when I go away. My online time at the moment is greatly reduced as we catch up :) .

  • RedDoll December 20, 2011 at 7:56 am

    My daughter spends half the holidays with her dad and she misses me while she is away (and me her!)… before her last long trip we went and bought bracelets for each of us to wear to remember the other when we are apart. She picked a charm to remind us of each other – my bracelet has a ladybug (as her nickname is lovebug) and hers has a red heart (she said its because I love her so much!).

    • PlanningQueen December 20, 2011 at 7:58 am

      That it a gorgeous idea RedDoll, thanks for sharing it. I imagine this will help a number of my readers who I know who have a similar set up over the holidays.

  • katepickle December 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    We used to suggest parents of kids in child care do the T-shirt trick… made it easier to settle at sleep time in a strange place if it smelled like Mum! :)

    I was just thinking the other day that I couldn’t manage all the travel you’ve done this year, it feels like my little family would fall apart if I was away for too long…. obviously that has a lot to do with how small my smallests are and the crazy shifts my husband works, but these tips are making it look a lot more doable!

  • Jacquie December 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    These are great tips Nicole – I especially like the notes in the lunchboxes – I’m going to do that next time.
    I have been away without my kids a few times over the last 12 months, and I have been very lucky to be able to phone and speak to them every day which has helped. In fact they aren’t always that interested in talking to me if they are busy or having fun but there are days they really love being able to talk. I always bring them back something but I’ve calmed down on that the last 2 trips as they have so many things and I didn’t really want to be buying more things just because I’d had to go somewhere. This last time I was away for the first few days of December, so they knew when I came back we would put the Christmas tree up and start all the advent calendars so they were very excited about that.
    My husband is very good at doing all the cooking & house stuff so I usually just leave him a huge list of what the kids have on each day and where he needs to take them, what they need to wear & take etc.

  • Christie-Childhood 101 December 20, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    What a great list of tips, can’t say I left anywhere near that organised though Immy was so excited that her Dad was home to look after her that it seems she hardly missed me at all :) I am sure he would have appreciated the extra support though!

  • A Quick Trip To Kuala Lumpur December 21, 2011 at 9:38 am

    [...] to Malaysia over the last weekend. I went to celebrate the Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.And as noted yesterday, I flew to Kuala Lumpur courtesy of AirAsiaX. AirAsia X is part of the low cost airline group Air [...]

  • Melissa @imaginationsoup December 24, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I need this – I haven’t traveled much but am going to twice next month so this is perfect, thank you so mch!

  • [...] Another post..an oldie but a goodie from @planningqueen on preparing the family when you’re flying solo [...]