Why I Take Kid-Free Vacations
If you are a parent, you are very familiar with the morning game: who’s going to get up with the kids first. It’s a terrifying and tactical game; one that can take the highest OR lowest level of skill to win. You’re both exhausted, neither are ready to get out of bed and you’re just banking on your partner remembering every sweet thing you’ve done recently, that would guilt them into throwing the sheets to the side and exiting the warm slumber chamber, before you.
That is one of the many reasons I purposely take kid-free vacations.
I love my kids, and I do love vacationing with them too. (For the most part, anyway) That being said, my relationship and my sanity need time away from them.
Some days, the excitement of vacation itself, keeps us from losing it all together. When my husband and I fall into bed, too mentally tired to recap the craziness of the day, we’re always able to count the days until the next escape. We look up pictures, make plans and dream about the consistent sleep we will both get.
Part of the reason I married my husband was because I liked him. I like spending time in his company. I genuinely like talking to him, recalling memories, laughing about nonsense- all which we can do, uninterrupted on a kid-free vacation. We don’t have to divide and conquer between kids going separate directions, nor do one of us get a break while the other gets to take on the bulk of the work. We get to just “be” together.
We love to research places to go and eat. We map out schedules and agendas. We look up prices and excursions. The fun part is: we rarely do any of them. The luxury of vacation is to sit still. To guiltlessly enjoy the space and company around you without your mind racing with the one gazillion things to do that day. Where your biggest questions are when and where should we eat and you never feel guilty for hanging in the hotel room and going to bed by 8 P.M. at night.
I enjoy holding my husband’s hand while not feeling the need to carry on a conversation. While we yearn for the times we could continue a conversation uninterrupted by kids at home, the ability to be present with each other begets no need for discussion. I don’t have to look for signs of stress or frustration. There is a clarity that is found easily without life popping up every other minute.
Let’s not forget the times when we get a kid free vacation WITH other friends. It’s like winning the lottery! Parenthood has made me rotten at maintaining my existing friendships and the opportunity to commiserate with someone you trust on all the ways parenthood can make you feel like you’ve been on a three day bender, is just plain fabulous. The validation that you aren’t failing and aren’t the only one going through the craziness - especially from someone you love, is something beyond measure. We schedule one mini-vacation annually with my best friend and her husband and it always is something I look forward to. The same reasons I love the time away with my husband, I get with my best friend. My husband appreciates a kid-free, guilt free, sports watching with a buddy weekend too.
It doesn’t take long for us to begin to miss our children, but the opportunity to recharge our batteries is never wasted. Our kids benefit as well. They get to practice independence, spending precious one on one time with family without us around. I truly think it’s important that they see we have a life outside of them, regardless of them being the center of our universe.
There are so many friends we have that don’t take this precious time together purely because they don’t have the family willing to help take on the kids for an extended period of time. I know we are lucky to have the support we do, but if our family’s help were to go away tomorrow, I know that while our getaway’s may be less frequent, I would still figure out a way to make them happen.
If you’ve been hesitant to leave your kids, I urge you to consider the benefits of self-care and time with your partner. I promise you that you are not doing anything wrong by wanting to be away from your kids. While it feels foreign, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. The first time away, make it short and perhaps close to home. It may feel uncomfortable and weird, but then do it again. Every time it gets easier and your family as a unit will get more out of it. If you don’t have family, try using a preschool teacher from a church, school or center you know. Ask friends if they have a trusted babysitter or nanny- or if uncomfortable with those, ask your friend! Offer a swap for a weekend. There are ways and if you are committed to making it happen, your family will be the reward.
The first morning home after vacation, we don’t feel the need to play that “who’s going to get up first” game. Our kids come in and snuggle and talk about how much they missed us and all they did while we were gone. We get to appreciate their cute little voices and their smell and their little, dirty hands after missing them for a few days. It’s one of the best resets for a family you can get.