Does the thought of planning a girlfriend trip with babies sound impossible?
About five summers ago, my two best friends from high school and I all got married. One after another, we slipped on fancy dresses and posed for pictures, dancing the night away before sending each other off with lots of excitement and a double-check that we had our birth control (except for one of us, and her now four-year-old is a delight).
At the time, one was finishing her PhD in South Carolina, another was beginning her counseling licensing hours in Wyoming, and I was getting ready to move to Texas for my new husband to finish grad school. We promised to do a girlfriend trip, and then a couples trip, and then a couples plus that cute little honeymoon baby trip … but it never happened. And the years went by, and more babies came, and we all moved again. It felt like our occasional group chat was the best we had — who in their right mind plans a girlfriend trip when we had babies?
Making a Girlfriends Trip Happen
One morning last spring, I got a promotional email from a glamping company offering discounts on a new site in North Carolina, right in the middle of the three of us. I quickly texted my girls about a trip Columbus Day Weekend, and surprisingly, they all agreed — but by the time we had made the decision, the sites were all booked. Without missing a beat, I sent a backup plan: What if we went to the beach?
Between the three of us, we had four little girls (4, 2, almost 2, and 1), and we were all pregnant. We found a house with enough king-sized beds for our expanding bellies, close enough to the beach that the waddle there and back wouldn’t be too bad. We planned who would bring what snacks, each picked a night to make dinner, and somehow talked our husbands into a 6+ hour car ride to spend a long weekend getting sand everywhere.
We took our families to the beach!
Beach weekend came, the car ride was longer than I ever imagined, the walk was farther than the website had promised, and of course, it rained on and off the whole weekend. But we taught our girls how to build sandcastles, search for mermaids, and even snuck away — just the three of us — one drizzly afternoon to get coffee and talk about marriage and families and discipline and life. We stayed up too late, the six of us in the living room, laughing at stories of in-laws, teaching each other things from our respective disciplines, making plans to win over the youngest baby (mine) who had decided at the beginning of the trip that anyone who wasn’t Mom was likely a suspected child abductor.
We drove home with our exhausted, sandy, donut-filled girls, all saying that we had so much fun, and making plans for next year (we’ll definitely need a bigger wagon for the new babies!).
I don’t know why it took us five years to do this, but I’m so grateful we finally made it happen, and now let me share with you five ways to plan your own girlfriend trip with babies and make it a huge success:
Plan Your Trip At Least Six Months Out
For years, we tried planning trips 1-2 months in advance. Sadly, though not surprisingly, none of our weekends ever lined up, so we would just give up. Planning so far in advance took away all the excuses, and gave us a better house selection!
Decide the Basics: Who, When, Where, and How Much
First, you have to decide if this is a Just Us Girls trip, or are husbands and/or children coming? Because our girls were so little (and mine was breastfeeding), I didn’t want to leave them for four days. From there, you know whose schedules you have to work around (my husband and I both work occasional weekends), you can decide driving vs. flying, how many bedrooms you need, etc. You also want to figure out a budget everyone feels comfortable with upfront, just to make sure no one feels guilty for vetoing something over the price.
Bring Lots of Snacks
I think most moms intuitively know this one, but if you’re planning a weekend trip with kids, snacks are a must-have. Did I say with kids? With grownups, too. In our pantry, we stocked fruit snacks, string cheese, squeeze pouches, lots of different bars, yogurt cups, apple slices, grapes, bananas, and lots and lots of mac n’ cheese. The time for healthy, balanced meals will return, but your primary goal on a trip is to keep everyone’s bellies full to prevent meltdowns, so don’t stress if they just graze all weekend (ours did). Do what you need to do to enjoy your time with your friends!
Breakfast + Lunch are Fluid, Dinners are Planned
We figured out who got up the earliest (my husband), and he made the coffee. The person with the emptiest hands scrambled some eggs or flipped pancakes while the rest of us got the girls up, dressed, and to the table. Our kids woke up in shifts (though thankfully we didn’t have any early risers!), so we ate a rolling breakfast as they made their way to the kitchen. Lunch operated the same way, with sandwiches and squeeze pouches in between various nap times.
We stocked the kitchen with coffee, milk + creamer, eggs, a just-add-water pancake mix, bread + sandwich fillings, and all the above-mentioned snacks.
Before the trip, we assigned a different family dinner each night. We made meals that were simple, easy to prep at home before we arrived, and both pregnant- and baby-friendly. We learned that some people are quite particular about loading dishwashers, and others are gifted at cutting up berries really quickly, so while we didn’t assign any cleanup or snack prep duties, we all fell into a good rhythm pretty easily.
Blackout, Blackout, Blackout
I may step on some toes here, but I cannot emphasize this enough: bring blackout tents / shades / trash bags for your baby’s room. Our “early riser” woke up at 7:30 because her room was the brightest, but none of our girls truly got up early the way I hear stories from friends, and I think that’s because we all prioritized darkness for their rooms. I brought blackout sleeping tents for my girls, but you can also bring portable shades, or be extra classy and use painter’s tape and black trash bags or aluminum foil over the windows. The point is, that morning sun will wake up your already overstimulated babies, and let’s be honest … Coffee first, then, parenting.
I hope my encouragement to plan a girlfriend trip with babies was helpful! Let me know in the comments if this inspired you to plan one, and where you’d want to go! I’m already brainstorming ideas for our adventure next year.