We’ve been blessed to receive “the call” for adoption twice. The first was three years ago when we were united with our twin baby boys and the second was two months ago when we were blessed with our baby girl. Both times, when we received “the call” that our children were waiting, we raced down south and had our babies in our arms the following day.
And both times, while we cuddled our new little ones for the first time, we signed and initialed a mountain of paperwork, then said goodbye to the agency staff and were immediately on our own as new parents. I’ll never forget the mixture of terrified-joy I felt as we drove away from the agency that first time with our TWO less than 6 pound babies strapped into the car seats in the back seat. Talk about insta-parents! I wasn’t even sure I knew how to change a diaper! Don’t worry, I got so very much practice really fast!
Next we took our bundles of joy to a hotel room, which would serve as our home for the next nearly two weeks (while we awaited ICPC confirmation that we could go home). The first time around, the idea of spending two weeks in a hotel room with an infant (2 for us) had me nearly breaking into a cold sweat! Now, having lived through it twice, I can tell you first hand, it can be done and if you’re prepared, it isn’t that bad!
Here are 10 tips to survive hotel living with an infant:
- Attitude is Huge: This is the number one, most important tip that I can share. Look at this time as a vacation and a special family bonding time with your new baby. All you really have to do for the next two weeks is bond with and care for your new little one. You may be exhausted from driving or flying in the day before. You may be exhausted from lack of sleep as you figure out baby’s sleeping and eating schedule. Be gentle with yourself and patient with each other! Seriously, sleep in and watch as much HGTV as you want while your little one cuddles on your chest. This is your time to just enjoy each other.
- Choosing a Hotel: We found that a room with two queen beds really worked well. There were many nights, my husband would sleep in one bed and I would sleep in the other and we had baby in the basinet on the floor between us. We liked feeling like her body guards. Two beds also gives you more space. You can keep one bed for sleeping and one bed can be filled with all the baby stuff and luggage. Suites with separate living space can get expensive, so if that isn’t in the budget, try to at least get a room that has a little area with a couch and TV away from the beds. Having a refrigerator, sink, and microwave also really comes in handy. When booking your hotel, always ask if they have an extended stay discount. The extended stay discount (7 days or more) was about $30 dollars cheaper a night than even the AAA discount. Lastly, it’s nice to choose a hotel that has some shopping and eating places nearby, even within walking distance.
- Diaper Changing Station: Use one of the beds, the desk, or the top of a short dresser as your diaper changing station. Put down blankets for padding and gather around all of your diapers, wipes, ointments, and clothing, so they are within easy reach and you’re organized and ready for diaper changes.
- Food: It’s convenient if the hotel has continental breakfast or at least serves breakfast (to buy) in the morning. Confirm when the hotel serves meals and ask for recommendations for nearby restaurants. Also, ask for any menus they may have for places that deliver food to the hotel. Find out where the nearest grocery store is. We loaded up on some snacks, bottled water, cereal, milk, and fruit, so we didn’t always have to eat out. That’s why it’s so important to have a fridge in your room!
- Loading up on Baby Stuff: Locate the nearest “Target/Walmart” type store and stock up on things you couldn’t necessarily pack ahead of time. For example, we didn’t know what kind of formula the baby would need. The agency gave us enough formula to make it through a day or two. We brought with us some diapers, wipes, clothing, and a ton of other baby “stuff,” but you’ll always think of some baby item you need! We weren’t exactly sure what size clothing baby would fit into, so we bought a few extra sleepers when we got there. We also purchased laundry detergent, a laundry bag, dish soap, and a bin for washing dishes (no way I was washing baby bottles in a hotel room sink!).
- Get out of the Hotel: It was nice to get out of the hotel room from time to time, even if it was just to do a little shopping or to sit at a cute coffee shop and chat. We had planned to head into the city to explore a few more things, but we never quite mustered up the energy to do that. And that’s okay! We also found that giving each other “me-time” breaks while the other parent spends time with baby alone was very valuable.
- The Hotel Staff: Make friends with the hotel staff, they are your family for the next two weeks. Don’t be afraid to ask them for recommendations on what to do and where to eat in the area. Ask them how long it takes to get to the airport and what times you should avoid being on the road due to traffic (if you’re near a large city). Both hotel stays, we met some very special people that helped us in so many ways. Little things like a free candy bar or bottle of water and bigger things like a wonderful chat about how to best wash and style African American little girl hair made our stay extra special.
- Garbage: Save all your shopping plastic/paper bags for garbage…you’ll have a lot!
- Housekeeping: We were usually still sleeping or easing into the day when housekeeping was coming around to clean rooms. Put your “do not disturb” sign on your door and if you leave later that day, call the front desk and ask for housekeeping to clean your room while you are away. They are usually very accommodating. Or catch one of the housekeepers in the hallway and ask for extra towels, coffee cups, whatever you need. Don’t forget to leave them a tip! 🙂
- Squeeze in time for health: Utilize the workout room and pool/hot tub…working out or relaxing in the hot tub will go a long way to keeping you feeling your best while you’re really quite exhausted!
- Bonus Tip: Be on the look-out for angels. If you keep your eyes open for them, you’ll run into many special people who want to help you in some way on your journey. One angel I’ll never forget was Delmar, the hotel’s shuttle driver. He didn’t want to take a car seat in the shuttle, because he was afraid it wasn’t safe, so he instead took pictures on his phone of the diapers and formula I needed, went to the store by himself, called me from the store when they didn’t have quite what I requested, bought the items, brought them back to the hotel with my change, and then commiserated with me about how expensive infant formula is.
For everyone waiting, sending prayers that 2016 is your year!
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