When parents need a vacation, they often tap a trusted caregiver like Grandma and Grandpa to either host a child at their place or come stay in their home.

When parents need a vacation, they often tap a trusted caregiver like Grandma and Grandpa to either host a child at their place or come stay in their home. It can be challenging but by planning ahead, you can ensure that everyone is well prepared for a great experience.

Probably the most important item on your to-do list should be to prepare a typed, notarized letter giving permission for the caregiver to seek emergency medical care for your child and to make medical decisions on your behalf. If you are a single parent, make sure the non-custodial parent also gives consent.
"You can make it as specific or as general as you want," said Dr. Richard Gajdowski, UnitedHealthcare's medical director for Central Ohio. "For example, 'If my child needs surgery, please call me first.' You can also spell out your beliefs regarding blood transfusions or immunizations. Thankfully, most emergencies aren't serious, but a letter empowers emergency personnel with the knowledge that parents' wishes are being granted."

It's also important to stay in touch via the phone or computer while away, Gadjowski said, "not only with the caregiver, but with your children. Tell your child, 'Here's my contact information. If there's anything going on, call me directly.' They will appreciate not having to go through another adult to talk to a parent."

Pickerington mom Geri Tsardoulias offered another travel preparation tip: Give the caregivers a tour of places they're likely to go with your child if they aren't already familiar with them. This could include their school, the library, grocery store and movie theater (and be sure to leave your library card and supermarket loyalty card).

Tsardoulias also used creativity to make sure her son still felt connected when she and her husband, Steve, left then-5-year-old Nick for 10 days so they could take a Alaskan cruise. Nick stayed home while family came from out of town to care for him.

"We got a map of Alaska and highlighted the ports," Tsardoulias said. She also checked out library books about Alaska, and mailed her son a postcard from each place along their route - including Port Columbus airport.

"Even though most of them arrived after we got home," Tsardoulias said, "it was still something for him to look forward to."