There are times when I dream about taking off my "mommy hat" and just relaxing for a while. The times I have been away while the kids stayed with grandma were good. I remember just sitting on the couch in the hotel thinking “I don’t have to move unless the building is on fire. Nice!” So I do appreciate a break, but while a vacation without the kids sounds like a great thing, it is still not something that I'm entirely comfortable with.

True, you don't want to be refereeing kid-fights while sitting on a white sand beach drinking from a coconut shell, but being without the kids can be stressful too. Here are some details to be sure to remember and a few ways to help with mom-guilt to make things as pleasant as possible for everyone:

Don’t Forget the Details

• Leave a schedule/routine for your caregiver. Young children like to have their routine stay the same especially when they are dealing with other stresses (like mom being gone). • With older kids, leave a list of house rules so the caregiver can confidently respond to requests ("But Mom always lets us have chocolate cake at midnight at our sleepovers on a school night.")

Considering including rules for: visits from friends, outdoor boundaries, homework, bedtimes, include any specific fears or comforts, and anything else you think might come up. And obviously, leave your contact numbers and any instructions for allergies or medications.

• Schedule relief for your caregiver if you can, especially during longer trips. For older kids, scheduling your trip during the school year can provide a break for your caregiver during the day. • Be sure to leave doctor’s contact numbers, numbers for some friends or other local contacts in case the caregiver needs any help, and the number for pizza delivery. • If the kids are in school, let the school know that you'll be gone and that your caregiver has permission to pick up your children in case of an emergency (most schools won't release to anyone not on the list.) This also helps teachers understand that the kids may be out of sorts.

Helping with Mom-Guilt

Realize that a happy mom makes for happy kids. You need to take time for yourself and your relationship to build a strong family. Still, it is common for moms to feel guilty about leaving the kids while on vacation. Here are a few things that might help:

• For younger children, make a little book to help explain what’s going on. Include a drawing or clipart of a mom and dad getting onto a plane/boat, one sitting on a beach or whatever else you'll be doing on your trip, one with a child having fun with the caregiver, and be sure to include a picture of mom and dad returning home. • Post a calendar with the date of your return and let the kids mark off the days until your return to reassure them that you’ll be coming back. For younger children, use pictures instead of words. • For longer trips, send a postcard right away so the kids can get it while you are gone and know that you are thinking about them. • Before you go, you can prepare daily treat bags with a few inexpensive treats, candy, or toys so your caregiver can give the kids a daily treat from mom. That way they know that mom is thinking about them.

I hope these tips help encourage you to pick a beautiful tropical island, get an awesome new swimsuit, and go enjoy yourself. Take a break, and use it as a chance to reconnect with yourself and/or your husband. You deserve it!

This guest post was provided from our good friend Kelly Long, a writer and co-founder of the blog Smart and Trendy Moms which focuses on finding ideas and products to make a mom's life easier and more enjoyable. She is also in the process of opening an online digital graphics shop, Electric Paper Designs.

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