When you drop the kids off with grandma and grandpa for an hour or a week, the only thing on your mind might be making a clean getaway. But take a few minutes before bolting to go over a few issues with the grandparents. Even grandparents who know your children well and see them often might not have all the nuances of their schedule down pat or have vital information they might need in case of an emergency.
Your Vital Information
While your parents aren't likely to call you in the middle of dinner and ask that you pick up your child because he isn't behaving -- you hope -- they still need to know how to get in touch in case of an emergency. Leave a printed sheet with the name of the restaurant, hotel or ship where you'll be, along with a phone number. Common sense often goes right out in the window during an emergency and you don't want your parents scrambling to find a phone number in the phone book. If you'll be several places, create a schedule that spells out clearly where you'll be when. Don't rely on cell phones alone if you'll be out of the country. Leave phone numbers and precise information on how to dial overseas.
If you don't feel comfortable leaving your insurance card itself, grandparents need a copy of your card. They also need a signed letter from you giving them permission to have your child treated medically in case of emergency. While a hospital isn't going to refuse to treat a child in an emergency, having the health insurance information plus the letter will take some stress off your parents if an emergency does occur. A quick review of your child's medical history, including allergies, might also come in handy. For lesser emergencies, bring your child's medicine-of-choice for fever, bumps or bruises and leave written instructions on how much to give. The tiny print on medicine bottles is hard for older eyes to read, plus they might not know your child's exact weight.
Although they might not follow it to the letter, grandparents still need to know what their grandchild's routine is, especially if you'll be gone overnight. Along with general wake-up, nap and sleep schedules, leave a list of favorite foods, bedtime books that help your child go to sleep, foods your child won't eat and which loveys get to sleep in your child's bed at night.
If you're leaving the grandparents with a car seat, stroller or playpen, ensure that they know how to set it up. Car seats can be dangerous if not properly installed, and playpens and strollers can collapse if not locked properly, so take the time to show them how to use the equipment and also leave written directions. Ensure that they know how to collapse the stroller; it's stressful to be at a shopping center with a stroller you can't collapse or wrangle into the car trunk. If you have an electronic thermometer you use on the forehead or in the ear, ensure that they know how to use that as well.