Step 1- Recruit a kind and loving, albeit unsuspecting and possibly nave couple to agree to watch your kids for a week. This may take several phone calls and a handful of rejections. Don’t be deterred. Keep trying.

Step 2- Find a maternity swim suit you can live with. This may take several shopping trips and a handful of rejections. Don’t be deterred. Keep trying.

Step 3- Lose all pride about what you look like in said maternity suit. How do all these people think they got here anyway? Upon seeing you, they should all want to immediately call their mothers to thank them for their sacrifice.

Step 4- Just in case step 3 is a tall order, find a good swim suit cover up. (That’s why they call them sarongs, you know. To cover up what went “so wrong.”)

Step 5- Spend hours writing a 13 page manifesto (or longer depending on font and type size) of instructions for your babysitter. You know, who needs to be where and at what times. Medical needs, dietary needs, what to do in case of emergencies, last will and testament….Don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry. Everything will be fine. People leave on vacation every day. You can do this!

Step 6- Wrangle on the pharmaceutical grade compression hose (still the most expensive thing in my closet) in order to endure the long hours on the airplane. This may take several minutes. That’s okay. No one wants to arrive in paradise with cankles.

Step 7- Arrive in paradise. Fall into freshly laundered hotel sheets and let the jet lag sweep over you.

Step 8- Shhh. You hear that? Notice how no one is knocking on your door demanding you get out of those luscious hotel sheets? No one is crying. No one needs to be fed. Hear the waves lapping up on the sand? That’s your only alarm clock. Enjoy.

Step 9- After an entire week of swimming and snorkeling and sleeping in….ahhh…Just you and your husband feeling like newlyweds again… Race to the airport! Don’t miss that flight! It’s been a whole week since you’ve held your babies and you need them just as much as they need you. At least you hope they still need you. They seem to think their babysitters are pretty cool.

Step 10-Hug and kiss those kids till they beg you to stop and give them their presents. Vow to never leave them again, ever, ever, ever, at least not until next year. Soak in the loudness, the laughter, and the rowdiness you’ve come to not only miss but adore.

Step 11- Make out the check to your now wiser, seasoned, battle-scarred babysitters. It was worth every penny.