While driving to pick up the kids after our most recent trip, my husband asked what my favorite part was. I rewound the previous 5 days in my head, thinking about the cruise ship, tropical sand & ocean breezes, the cocktails we consumed, our fun excursions and everything that had transpired in between, all kid-free. My answer was easy. “Tied for first place: sleep & dinner.” He laughed, and then agreed. Proof that we definitely NEEDED this vacation. Turns out, we aren’t alone in our thinking! A 2016 survey by Orbitz.com shared that the biggest indulgence parents have on childless vacations are sleeping in and quiet dinners. And really, sitting down to a meal together, without kids asking for more milk, complaining about their food or squabbling with the kid next to them is amazing. Add in no cooking, no cleaning, and uninterrupted sleep, and we’re in heaven.
But, it comes at a price for most moms. The G word. GUILT. It sets in. “Will they have fun? What if they need their lovey/toy/cubby or they get sick? How are they going to survive without me?” Here’s the honest truth. They will be fine. In fact, your precious angels are probably just as happy to be away from you as you are from them! The first time we went away for a 3 day weekend after our youngest was born (he was over a year when we took this trip), I felt it. I checked in far too often, and after the 4th phone call, my mom threatened to send me to voicemail if I called again within 24 hours. We kept busy with hikes, art museums and other stuff that kids would declare “BORING” after 5 minutes. Pretty soon, I was having fun and feeling like ME again. Not “Mom, Mommy, Mama…” just me.
Being on-call 24/7, responding to every want/need/whim of our spawn is utterly exhausting and we need the recharge of time away from each other for our mental health (and relationships). ESME.com (a great resource for solo moms) posted a travel article with parenting expert Dr. Michele Borba. One of her main points is that taking time away from your children (by traveling) is key to relieving stress and a less anxious mama is a better mama. She says, “It helps us reconnect with ourselves, reflect on our parenting, improve mental health, and keep stress at bay. Research supports that one of the best ways to be a good mom is to keep your stress in check.” So release the guilt, and tell yourself that a trip is good for your mental health!
Now that you’ve convinced yourself that a taking a trip is an okay idea, you’ve got to prep the kids! Little ones are a gamble, some are clingy and others could care less. Do what you’ve gotta do to ease your mind and make it a fun experience for them too. That might mean starting with a single overnight stay and building up to a week long trip… No matter how you do it, it will get easier.
Over the years, we learned some tricks to make it less stressful on everyone. We Facetime while we are gone on longer trips, leave notes in their suitcases (and they make us drawings/notes for ours) and make sure to have some down-time as a family after to reconnect and hear all about everyone’s adventures. (For more tips/tricks, check out the No-Guilt Guide on Abundant Mama) Now that our son is 5 and the girls are tweens, it’s a lot easier to leave them and go on an adventure as a couple. The kiddos look forward to spending time with family, being spoiled by relatives and playing with cousins. We took a 4 day California vacation last year, camping & hiking in Yosemite, then spent a couple days on the coast, biking and enjoying each other’s company, interruption free. We know we are spoiled with the support system available to us, but I challenge you to find a way to get away. Whether it’s a week-long cruise to Mexico, a quick weekend getaway, or a staycation in a local hotel with a bunch of mom-friends, take some time, guilt free and kid free. You deserve it!
Where is your favorite kid-free destination?