Lawyers

Taking A Vacation From Your Baby—and Your “Baby”

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a mother teaching her baby girl a goodbye kissThe past year has been busy for me. I started my small business and solo practice, both of which are busier than ever. And, as of early January, I’m an incredibly proud new daddy. So, as you can imagine, between the growing family and growing businesses, a lot has been going on. So when my wife and I received the opportunity to take an all expenses-paid trip to Japan, the hard part wasn’t deciding whether or not we’d go. Of course we couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Still, we worried about how we’d handle being away from the most important things in our lives—the baby and the businesses.

We spent a lot of time worrying before we left. We worried about how our daughter would do without us. We worried about whether we could really justify stepping away from our businesses for more than a week. Thankfully, by planning ahead we were able to enjoy our trip stress-free and return to find that everything had worked out OK without us.

If you’re planning a trip away from your baby—whether that means your solo practice and/or your actual baby—you may want to consider these four steps we took to make sure everything goes smoothly.

1. Line Up a Replacement

Finding someone you trust to take care of your baby is perhaps the hardest part of planning a vacation.

For our child, the decision was relatively easy, because my mother eagerly volunteered to watch her granddaughter. But  unless you have practicing attorneys in your family, you’ll need to find a trusted colleague who can be ready to step in to handle any fires that flare up while you’re away. I highly recommend asking someone to cover for you in case a problem arises before you leave so that your replacement is ready to go. Provide them a little background about any relevant matters you’re handling in advance and make sure that they can easily access important documents and information without too much guidance. Meanwhile, make sure to let your staff knows who to call if things do take a turn for the worse. By planning ahead you can save yourself some stress if any unpleasant surprises come up.

2. Make Sure People Know The Best Way To Reach You

It was important to me that I could be easily contacted in the event of an emergency while I was overseas, so I called my mobile provider and set up international calling and data for my account. Under the plan I selected, text messages and data were cheap but phone calls would be expensive. In my mind, that was perfect, since I really didn’t really want to receive any calls unless absolutely necessary. I simply explained to my colleagues and family that I’d have my phone with me, but that they should only call me for urgent matters. For everything else, I asked that they only send me text messages and emails. Although I didn’t receive any calls while I was away, I was able to sleep better knowing that I could be contacted if something did come up with either my business or my young daughter.

3. Get Ahead On Your Work

In the week leading up to our trip we ordered all the necessary items that my mother would need to take care of our daughter: extra diapers, baby wipes, and so forth. She came over before we left and we showed her our daily routine. There was a lot to do, and it was good to get a start on it as early as possible.

Similarly, I was swamped with work for several weeks before I left. Some of that work absolutely had to be completed before I could leave. Other projects could wait until I returned. When you’re planning a vacation it’s important that you recognize which is which. I recommend tackling the essential matters first. Getting it all done before I left wasn’t easy. In fact, it meant putting in some late nights. Nonetheless, it was worth it. Once I stepped on that plane I was able to forget about work until I returned home. If you find that you have more than you can handle, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a colleague or member of your staff. Sometimes it’s necessary to delegate appropriate tasks in order to be efficient.

4. Check in As Needed

Unsurprisingly, the hardest part for us was being away from our daughter. We’d find ourselves walking through gorgeous temples in Kyoto and wondering how she was doing. To make things easier, we arranged a schedule so that we could see her on FaceTime and/or Skype. We’d call from our hotel room either first thing in the morning before we left to go sightsee, or last thing at night before we’d go to bed.

Although we never needed to call in for work, that would have been easy to arrange. Before you leave, remind your staff and colleagues of the time difference. Then discuss what times would be most convenient to schedule check-ins. Using video calls over the hotel’s Internet connection even allows you to meet face-to-face with your team without using phone minutes or your data plan.

Have you taken a vacation from your office recently? What other tips can you provide? Let us know in the comments.

About Matthew Hickey

Matthew is an entertainment attorney, blogger and music enthusiast. Having previously worked as an attorney in law firms both large and small, and now as a practicing solo attorney, Matthew believes that there has never been a better time to start a solo practice or small firm. By utilizing social media and new technology, small firms and solo attorneys can surpass their large firm counterparts in terms of marketing and providing clients with efficient, reliable legal services at affordable rates. When he isn’t wearing his “lawyer hat” he is humble-bragging about his extensive vinyl collection over at the food and music website Turntable Kitchen.
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