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5 Things to Know When You Travel Without Baby for the First Time

I've gone on solo trips when each of my three babies were right around 8 or 9 months old. With each trip, I've learned more and more lessons along the way. I'm a stay-at-home mom, so I spend pretty much all day, every day with my three littles, which makes traveling very different than my ordinary life.

With my first daughter, I went to New York when she was 9 months old. I'd never spent a night away from her, and it was amazingly hard to do it. I've never been so happy to see someone at the baggage claim as I was when I got home from that trip.

With my second daughter, right as she turned 10 months, a friend invited me to go on a surprise girls' trip for a few days. This time, it was a little easier, although making arrangements to leave two children was definitely trickier.

And now, here I go again. I'm writing this on an airplane as I fly to Portland for a weekend blog conference. This is my second time leaving my third baby, who is closing in on 8 months old.

Here are a few things I've learned over the years about traveling without your little sidekick (and with your breast pump):

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1. Enjoy the break

You'll probably miss your little baby—I know I always do—but it's also OK to say, "I spend every day with them. It's good for me to enjoy a little break before I return." Don't feel guilty about leaving them with their dad or a babysitter or a grandma for a day or two or five. Before you know it, you'll be back waking up for midnight feedings and being responsible for keeping that little person alive.

2. Four words: "Sleeping through the night"

Heaven help the hotel staff member who disrupts my sleep when I'm traveling sans baby.

My baby has slept through the night most nights for the past several months, but this last week or so, she's been teething and has been waking up just really sad and wanting to nurse in the middle of the night. I won't pretend I'm not at least a little giddy at the prospect of sleeping straight through the night (heaven help the hotel staff member who disrupts my sleep when I'm traveling sans baby).

3. It's great for your partner to fly solo for a few days

Since I stay home and my husband works full-time outside the home, it's definitely different for him to manage the children on his own for a couple of days. He's a very hands-on dad, but we're usually getting the kids ready for bed together and I'm always the one getting up at night since I'm nursing. The last time I was gone, he texted me to say, "It's really impressive that you don't rely on the TV to get through the day ." It's nice for him to see what my days really look like and have a better appreciation for the kind of work I do.

4. Use the chance to be extra nice to people traveling with kids

When I'm traveling without my kids, I try to be extra courteous to the people who are and think of how I'd like help when I AM traveling with my kids. I hold the elevator doors, assure the parents of a screaming child that I don't care a bit about the noise, and offer to switch seats or take a middle seat. I comment on really good child behavior and I don't complain or roll my eyes about bad behavior. And I'll hope that next time I'm traveling with my crew that some of that good karma comes back my way.

5. If you're a nursing mama, remember that formula is a totally acceptable option

I nurse my children exclusively for the first year and every time I've traveled without my little milk-drinker, I've felt panicky about whether or not I left enough milk in the freezer for them while I'm gone. And then I remind myself that my husband can make a Target run anytime to buy a can of formula and no babies are going to starve in my absence.

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And of course it's perfectly fine if you want to spend a little time scrolling through every photo of that baby on your phone or call home and talk to your baby, who likely hasn't even noticed that you're absent.

Photograph by: Janssen Bradshaw

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