Becoming a parent is a life-changing experience. Suddenly, you are in charge of the care and well-being of this perfect, tiny creature and you can’t imagine ever wanting to be away from your baby. But then, after months, if not years, of selflessly pouring into those not-as-perfect-as-you-once-thought, now much bigger creatures, you realize you could use a break. Then you look over at your spouse and notice he, too, has bags under his eyes and a faraway look on his face. He could use a break too. You suddenly realize you need a vacation. But not a family vacation. Oh, no. We all know that “family vacation” means business as usual for mom but in a bathing suit. No, what you really need is a kid-free vacation. And you need it yesterday.
After our first baby was born, my husband and I dutifully shooed away any offers from our parents to take the kid so we could get away. We, as new parents, felt that we couldn’t leave our precious child in the care of anyone else. But after we had our second baby, our mindset shifted. Drastically. In fact, we began begging our parents to TAKE THE CHILDREN so we could get a break. We needed it for our sanity. And soon, we started taking a kid-free vacation every year without hesitation or guilt.
Now, as a widowed, single mama, I continue to take a kid-free vacation every year. Now more than ever, I need a break from my kids to save (what’s left of) my sanity. And I don’t feel guilty about it one bit. I know that taking these vacations without my children feeds my needs in a way nothing else can. And this is true whether you are married, single, divorced, widowed, or otherwise entangled. If you are a parent, you need a kid-free vacation. And I’ll tell you why.
Being a parent is hard work. And it’s easy for one or both partners to get lost in the mundane everyday routine of parenting tasks. It’s easy to lose that “loving feeling” for your partner when you barely have time to shower or shave or do the million other self-care things you used to do. It can also be challenging to find time to focus solely on each other regularly.
Taking time to spend a few days together on a kid-free vacation can help you reconnect with your spouse in many meaningful ways. You will be able to talk freely to one another without constant interruption. You can spend time being intimate without feeling rushed to get on with your day or go to bed at a decent hour. Or you can share a hot meal, a hot bath, a hot date. And you will both appreciate having this time to reconnect and pour into each other.
Let’s be real honest. There are days when you don’t like your kids. We have all had those days, so stop trying to deny it. But if we’re super honest, you also have to admit that there are days when your kids don’t like you either. And yeah, you probably deserve it. Listen, none of us are perfect parents. We make mistakes. We get short-tempered, we yell, we lose our cool. It happens. Sometimes you and your kids just need space from each other. And THAT’S OKAY. There is no reason to feel guilt for needing to get away from them. They could probably use a break from you too!
A lot of our kids are really lucky to have amazing grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other loved ones in their lives who would be thrilled to spoil them while mom and dad got away. Why don’t you let them while you take a kid-free vacation? Not only will your loved ones feel honored that you’re willing to trust them with your most precious cargo, but your kids will also get the chance to spend some quality time with other people who love them just as much as you do. Making memories with their grandparents for a week may be some of the fondest they’ll cherish from childhood.
As much as you need to reconnect emotionally and physically with your partner, you also need to have fun together! You and your partner are supposed to be best friends, right? Otherwise, why did you decide to spend your biggest adventure (life and kids) together? Get out of your everyday doldrum, and go have fun! Laugh like lunatics at and with each other. Find a new city or restaurant that you both fall in love with. Try a new cuisine, see a live comedy show, dance in the street in the rain. Get drunk like college kids and end up naked in the bathtub. Whatever makes you belly laugh with each other, just go do it.
I said it earlier, but I think it’s worth repeating. Parenting is hard work! Yes, it’s rewarding and enriching. Yes, you’d never trade your kids for anything (most days). But it is also exhausting, emotionally depleting, and mentally draining. If you were working for a Fortune 500 company, you would get time off because even the meanest of bosses know that no one is going to do their best job if they’re burned out. The same goes for parenting. You need a break. And it will be good for you. So take it.
Getting away from your kids, your chores, your job, and your responsibilities for a few days is not going to kill you. But it will make you a better parent. When you are always on the go, doing kids stuff, home-keeping stuff, job stuff, and everything in between, you can easily get stressed to the point of exhaustion. And when you’re stressed and tired, the kids can feel it.
You know when you are not being your best parenting self. And I’m willing to bet you know that if you got a few days away to refresh and recharge, you’d be in a better place mentally when you returned. Your kids need you to be at your best. That means you need to invest in self-care and vacation time, even if it’s just a weekend at a local hotel. Don’t underestimate how much a well-deserved break will help you to be a better parent.
Getting away from your kiddos once a year will be the best decision you ever made. So stop feeling guilty. Stop worrying. Grab a couple of cold drinks, your spouse, and your laptop and start planning your kid-free vacation now. You’ll thank me later, I promise!
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