You would think that taking an adults-only vacation would be less stressful than traveling with children, but worrying about how your children are doing at home can drive you to distraction. Those worries are a natural part of leaving home, and you'll never eliminate them. However, leaving your children and their caregiver with all the documents and information they'll need can give you some peace of mind.
Last Will and Testament
It's not pleasant to think about, but as a responsible parent you have to consider what would happen to your children if something happened to you. If you don't already have a will, the month before a vacation is the perfect time to visit your lawyer and create one, since taking long drives and flights, visiting foreign places and doing outdoor activities have the potential for danger. Be sure the document states your choice of a guardian for your children if you die. Let their caregiver know where you've stashed the will, and give a copy to your attorney.
A child needs to carry a letter from her parents if she's going to fly without her guardians; when she's staying at home without them, this letter isn't strictly necessary. Still, creating and signing a letter that outlines your travel plans and the arrangements you've made for your children's care is a smart idea, just in case some issue arises. Include your itinerary and contact information. Make a copy and leave it on the refrigerator so the kids can show it to authorities if necessary. Send a copy to school or camp as well as to the children's soccer coaches or music teachers, together with contact information for your care provider. Everyone should know who will be in charge of dropping off and picking children up from activities, and whom to call in case one of the children is sick or injured.
Medical Consent Letter
If your child needs medical treatment -- even a doctor's appointment for a runny nose -- her caretaker must have your permission for her to be treated. Write a letter giving your consent for that person to authorize medical treatment for each of your children. Your doctor's office may even have a standard form you can fill out. Some states may require that it be notarized. Talk to the caretaker before handing over the letter; she should understand that, unless it's an emergency, she must consult you before getting treatment for the child.
Other Household Documents
Unless some disaster occurs, your children and their caretaker shouldn't require any other documents during your trip away. Make sure any important documents, such as the children's birth certificates, mortgage papers and insurance information, are in one accessible place in case something does happen to you during the trip. Make a list of account numbers for various utilities, so if the power gets shut off or there's a problem with the cable, the caretaker can call the company for help. If she's going to be paying for groceries or other expenses while you're away, buy a prepaid debit card for her to use rather than handing over a credit card or checks.