I didn’t sleep that much last night, or the night before.  That, alone, says something since I’m always exhausted. I’m the person who is usually asleep before my head hits the pillow.

I’d like to say it’s because I’m so excited about the surprise trip my husband just sprung on me for my 40th birthday.  We are leaving tomorrow for a 5-day trip to San Francisco and Napa, California. It’s an exciting, bucket list type of vacation.  We’re meeting up with old friends and going to an extravagant restaurant in Napa that I’ve wanted to try for years.

But, I’m worried.  It’s the first time since my 2-year-old was born that we’re leaving him for more than one night and we’re going to be 3,000 miles away!  Talk about ripping the band aid off!

Leaving a child for the first time is hard on any parent, but when your child has special needs it’s even more emotional, not to mention the logistics that go into it.  I need to make sure his caregiver (my mother) knows how to draw and dispense his daily med’s, put his ankle braces on and can get him to his therapy sessions and medical daycare on time.  Of course, there’s also the fear he’ll get sick.

But I have to keep reminding myself that this trip isn’t self-indulgent, it’s necessary…necessary for my marriage, my sanity,  and for my son.  Connor will get a break from us and get in some essential bonding time with his grandmother and great aunt. We’ll get to recharge our batteries so we can deal with whatever stress life wants to spring on us next.

So, here are my tips for leaving your special needs child for an extended period of time:

Make lists…lots of lists.  I spent 2 hours outlining Connor’s daily schedule for my mother including favorite foods, medicine must-do’s, therapy appointments, various doctor contact info, you name it. Have your husband read over it as well so you don’t forget anything.

Try and take a day off before and after the vacation. I spent the entire day with Connor on Wednesday; we went to the park, played, and read.  It does help lessen the guilt.  Then the day you get back can be spent unwinding and reconnecting before you have to go back to work or daily life as you know it.

Facetime, Skype you name it. Take time out of each day you’re gone to touch base with your little one and let him or her know you’re still there and missing them every minute of every day.

Do you have tips for making an extended leave go smoother? Share them by leaving a comment!