How Does A Mother Plan to Go Away for a Conference?

You have the conference booked, accommodation sorted and transport arranged. What else does a mother need to plan in order to get away for a conference?

Next week I am going away to my first blogging conference. I cannot tell you how unbelievably excited I am. (Think a six year old on Christmas Eve. That type of excited.) It’s a little bit ridiculous really. Because as a newbie I’m almost equal parts scared witless. (Think seven year old who is busting for the loo but too scared to ask the teacher. That type of scared.) I’m so very aware that there will be so many bloggers present with massive audiences, (Think grand stadium audiences hyped and waiting anxiously for every part of the performance), whereas my audience (thank you for reading), well, think small group snuggled by a fire in a living room chatting.

Anyway, gone are the days when I just pack a suitcase and slip out of town. Oh no, not when you are a mother, of five kids including two year old triplets no less. When we mothers leave town, (with or without kids) planning is required.

Here are some tips on how to plan that your household will continue to run as smoothly as possible without you. If you’re interested, I’ve outlined in italics what I am personally doing so I can leave the house during ProBlogger. Feel free to skip the italics if you’re in a hurry!

1. Organise Babysitter

  • Enlist help of friends or family members, or paid help such as a babysitter or a nanny temp.
  • Ensure there is someone with the children for all the necessary hours.
  • Organise any school/kindy/daycare etc. pick ups. or transport/supervision is arranged for extra-curricular activities. (eg. sports, dance class etc.)

I will be away for three days. Thankfully I have our In-Home Carer Stacey that we were able to re-schedule her normal hours so that she will be with the children from when Alex leaves for work until he gets home for the first two days. For a little while we thought that she would not be able to work then. I was then having to construct much more complicated plans in my head which involved conscripting Grandma and an Aunty to help as well as my husband taking a day off work. Thankfully, we didn’t have to go down that path.  School drop offs and pick ups are already organised for those days also.

2. Leave the Pantry and Fridge Well Stocked

  • Enough bread and milk (or reminders if necessary of when it will need replacing if gone for a length of time.)
  • Food for snacks
  • Fruit
  • A menu plan for meals with pre-made meals or all ingredients purchased and easy to find. Don’t forget to utilise take-away if that’s going to make life easier for your family!
Thankfully, Stacey is familiar with our kitchen, so I will be able to leave the ingredients for her to prepare the first two evening meals and I won’t need to make these meals in advance. On the Saturday evening I’m away, I’ll leave Daddy make his speciality – pizza! The kids love it! If it’s been a bit too hectic for him he has my full permission to serve the takeaway version!  To make it easier in the morning, I’ll leave Jonty’s school lunchbox packed and in the fridge. 
3.  Leave Clear Instructions and Prepare in for Outings 

  • Think about all the activities that you do that people may not know about and document them. Use dot points so information is easy to read at a glance. Write a paragraph under the point if more explanation is required.
  • Include a time line of the routine your child is used to if necessary.
  • Leave important contact numbers next to the phone. (eg. Doctor, neighbours, work numbers, you and your partner’s mobile, an additional emergency contact etc.)
  • Think of any unusual event and leave instructions.
  • Talk through your expectations with your children before you leave. It will give them extra security and confidence also.
  • Leave out any letters from school, classes that apply during the time you are away.

Unfortunately Jonty has a special dress up day and performance at school on the Friday. I’m a bit gutted I’m going to missing this. We have his costume ready and I will leave clear instructions on what he needs to wear and I’ve already been discussing our plan with Jonty, so he will probably be reminding Daddy!  I’ve also organised to come in to watch the class during a practise of their item since I won’t be there to see the real thing.

Another unfortunate thing is that soccer is a one hour drive away that week on the Saturday morning and begins at 9:00am! Poor Alex having to get all the kids in (and out) of the car by himself for that! Normally I would stay at home with the children rather than getting the triplets in the car that early. To help out with that, I’ll pack the bag with spare clothes, snacks etc. All ready for him to grab on the way out the door. Alex isn’t as worried about this as I am. He said it will only take ten minutes dress all the kids and go. I hope he amends his timing for that task by about 30 minutes!
4. Shopping for the Conference

  • Think about what new items you will need to buy for the conference. eg. clothing, stationary, technology.
  • Think about your long term uses for purchases, try not to spend too much money for just one occasion.
  • Organise a shopping to fit into your schedule. Leave enough time to complete comfortably! 

I was relieved to read Emily from Have A Laugh On Me when she said nobody really minds what you wear unless you’re a style blogger. It took the pressure off a little, but I still want to look good! (And perhaps I’m a somewhat of a wannabe style blogger!) I’ve been sneaking time when I can to find a new outfit or accessory or two. Of course, now I’m finding what I want online and it’s too late to get it from overseas, so I’m having to shop the old fashioned way! (Although I did find some good nautical jewellery on Etsy for the Ahoy! party on Saturday night.)  As always, shopping with kids is always done in small allotments of time, I’ve also been plagued with indecision, which doesn’t work well with small allotments of time. On Sunday I was in town with a free half hour and went back to get something, and of course it was sold out. Just as well there was another one in a different colour, not first choice, but hey!

5. Packing

  • Leave enough time so that you won’t be rushed and forget things. (If you are a last minute packer like I am, start earlier in the evening rather than later!)
  • Remember to pack all tickets and documentation, and cords for phones, laptops etc. Include equipment necessary for re-charging.
  • Pack at least one extra outfit to use in an case of emergency!

I suspect that because I’m so excited, I may even start packing earlier then my usual night before pack! However, I don’t like to pack clothes too far in advance to minimise creasing. I certainly will open a suitcase soon and start throwing in things I don’t really need and don’t want to forget. Or put in post-it reminders of things I’m likely to forget!

6. Mental Preparation

  •  Beforehand go with a clear expectation of what you would like to achieve by the end of this conference. Have an action list if necessary if there are things you need to do to achieve your goals.
  • Arrange any meetings with people you would like to connect with.
  • Book restaurants (or day spa!) in advance if there is a likelihood that it will be busy.
  • Read blogs or other information that will give you an idea of what to expect.
  • Arrange a time to check-in and call home to check on th

    e kids and get a mental plan if necessary on how not to worry about them. (Leaving a planned house should help with the knowledge that they are going to have a good time while you are away!)

  • Give yourself a pep talk on why you are worthy of attending the conference and hold your head high! Refuse to let negativity into your thinking.
Much earlier in the year I read my first blog post that made me start thinking about how I needed to prepare. There has been a few more I’ve read since then, if you haven’t seen them. Check them out!

And then there are the posts that inspired me to go by my two local blogging buddies. Last year I was watching all the #pbevent hashtags wishing I was there after I knew these two were there. I then would tell myself I wasn’t good enough to go to something like this for a couple of years, and then suddenly I just decided to get out of my comfort zone and booked it this year! It is a comfort that I’ll be hanging with these gals though and they aren’t newbies and know some people, so hopefully that will decrease some potentially awkward moments.

My biggest area that I have needed to prepare myself is the pep talk. I am very aware of my blogging inadequacies and my time constraints in making the improvements I require to keep moving forward. I need to tell myself that even baby steps forward are better then remaining stationary! Going to a conference is a lot more then a baby step for me.  It’s an acknowledgement that I’m spending money and investing time into this thing to make it work! I’m determined that I’m going to do everything in my power to make this a really worthwhile experience! I owe that to my friends and family who will be covering for me, and I owe it to myself! I’m looking forward to learning as much as possible, embracing all the experiences, (I’m talking down my introvert anxiety about being around so many new people and going to a party!) and making connections with people that will be meaningful. Expect to see big things coming from Caitlin’s Happy Heart in the future!
A Mother Prepares to go away for a Conference (ProBlogger)
My hubby and I stayed overnight at QT last year, which is where the ProBlogger conference and where I’ll be staying. I’m so looking forward to being there again. It’s the most ‘fun’ hotel I’ve ever stayed at!
Are you going to ProBlogger? Have you been in preparation mode yet?
How do you plan if you are leaving the family for a few nights?

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