Caution: Unpopular opinion may ensue in the following commentary.
I have a confession to make.
I like traveling without my children.
I am not going to pretend to hide it. I don’t think I should deny it.
There is a lot of mom guilt that can happen when you admit you like time away from your children. But you need it…and, actually, they need it. There are several benefits to taking a kids-free vacation. No guilt allowed.
However, I feel a bit ‘judged’ or like I need to hide this fact when I see other women questioning whether or not they should take their children on vacation.
This happens most often in the Disney Facebook groups. Moms have a baby and question if they should keep them home with the grandparents. They have ‘mommy guilt’ for even thinking about it.
I avoid social media confrontation at all costs, so I tend to keep my mouth shut. Especially when other moms are loudly and proudly saying:
“ Yes. Disney is for all.”
“It’s a magical experience and no one should be excluded.”
“ My 6 month old loved it!”
That may all be true. But, you know as well as I do..that deep down in the depths of your heart… you like being able to go to the bathroom without having to worry about a mini-you joining you…or being attached to you.
Sometimes it’s nice to be able to eat whenever you want, have an ice cream cone all to yourself and not have to worry about when the next meltdown will occur.
You want to be able to put on that awesome LBD ( ‘little black dress’ in case it’s been so long and you don’t recall the lingo) and have a nice dinner with your husband, without having to worry about whether or not an apple juice stain would come out of it in the event of an unexpected spill.
Hear me out: I LOVE MY KIDS.
I really do.
But, there is a difference between a trip with kids and a vacation without them.
Note the purposeful difference in word choice. Trip vs. Vacation.
A trip is a vacation….for them.
A vacation is for you.
And you deserve a vacation!
Kid-friendly trips are great. Don’t get me wrong. I love exploring with my kiddos. However, it’s a completely different experience and takes a completely different type of mental preparation ( and fortitude).
Ever spend time in another city…only to find yourself at a playground and think…. I could have saved a ton of money and done this at home?
Been there. Done that.
When was the last time you were able to leave the house with one small backpack or suitcase with just your essentials?
When Nate and I travel, we can typically do it with just one carry-on each. Kids require car seats, strollers, lovies…and before you know it your cargo is just out of control.
Just visit a Walt Disney World park one time by yourself, with an adult friend or significant other…put your credit card and license in a neck pouch or lanyard and breeze through the “no bags line.” You’ll experience the bliss and see what I mean…
(Mind you, Disney is absolutely a kid-friendly place…and a great family vacation. But, babies have no idea what is going on, so don’t feel bad if they stay with Grandma…and enjoy yourself.)
Do you even recall the last time you were able to lounge at a pool…maybe even close your eyes in the pool chair and not have to worry about someone’s imminent drowning? (Unless, of course, your husband is going head first down a water slide. But, let’s face it…he’s on his own.)
My favorite, though, is being able to walk into a museum full of priceless works from DaVinci, Michelangelo and Rodin…and not have to worry about someone touching something and sounding the alarm.
My husband and I try to take at least one or two trips a year as just the two of us. We encourage every couple to do the same and this is why:
Seriously, when was the last time you took a nap? Or, at least took a nap without having to worry about a kid escaping or burning the house down.
The first thing Nate and I always do when we land somewhere is take a nap…and I don’t think it’s completely due to travel fatigue… parenting and life fatigue seems more realistic.
My mom is probably going to read this post which is a bit awkward…but I’ve been married for almost twelve years and this is just fact.
Sex is important to a marriage and, frankly, sex anytime is good.
However, when you are on vacation without worrying about kiddos knocking on the door or having to make too much noise…you just feel a bit more free to enjoy it. You don’t have to rush, you can lay in bed naked without having to worry about someone waking you up at 2:00 in the morning for no apparent reason and having to herd them back to bed.
Adult Conversation..or not.
We make it a point to have dinner at the table with our kids every night. This is great for family communication, but it generally ends up with our two kids talking across the table at each other, sharing funny stories, making weird noises…and it occasionally ends up as a Dance Party and they don’t even leave their seats.
Meanwhile, my husband and I stare dazed and confused at them and each other… not quite sure what is happening.
The reality is that they’re just having fun and that’s great. We will one day miss those memories. But… when we are eating alone, we are able to have uncensored conversations. Not explicit…but ya know… “what bills need paid next week.” “ How did the conversation with your boss go?” “ What did the doctor say?” without the kiddos overhearing and sharing your family business with the next teacher, grocery store clerk and postmaster they see.
I also hypothesize that the reason stated above is the exact same reason you see couples eating in silence when they go out to eat together.
They still love each other. Nothing is wrong in their marriage. They just want…silence.
Now, I love myself a good french fry. There is no doubt about that. But, truthfully… it’s so nice to be able to enjoy a meal somewhere with cloth napkins and no kid’s menu. This is especially true if you are in an area where you want to try local cuisine…and that cuisine is not chicken nuggets.
See The Sights With More Stamina
Kid’s just can’t go for twelve hours straight all day and walk thousands of steps. Because of this, family vacations can be stressful if they are too jam-packed, because kiddos need more rest and just don’t have the endurance to go, go, go.
Plus, depending on the age of your child, consider their interests. We love art and architecture, but know that our kids will be bored after 15 minutes in the Louvre. In a few years, when they can sight-see a bit more and better appreciate certain sights, then we’ll be more apt to take them.
That being said, Josiah is beginning to show an interest in London. I am sure he would love to see the Beefeaters and castles, so I think that may be a great introduction to international travel for him.
Fosters Your Child’s Independence
I speak to this as both a parent and as a school counselor.
Children need a healthy separation from their parents.
Mind you, I said “ healthy.” They need your presence and attention. However, the occasional separation is very beneficial to them.
Whether you are a working mom who utilizes a day care service, or a stay at home mom, the idea is the same. It is good for your children to see you taking care of yourself, your marriage and getting away on your own.It is good for your children to see you taking care of yourself, your marriage and getting away on your own. Click To Tweet
Additionally, it allows them to feel comfortable independent from you.
I will eventually venture and take my kids to Europe. I am excited for the day that we can go together and they will appreciate it and remember it. But, right now, they prefer going to Grandma’s… and we prefer letting them.
I remember calling home from Italy and Josiah said “ We’re fine! Don’t worry about us! Buy a house over there!” I am sure Grandma’s ‘ice cream’ for lunch policy probably played a role in those comments, but it was nice to know that they were ‘okay’ without us, even though I secretly hoped they would miss me more.
We absolutely want to cherish the time we have with our kids and enjoy their younger years, but it’s better to have occasional separations at intervals when they are younger, as stepping stones to help them when they ultimately have to leave the nest as young adults.
If you are leaving your children with a family member for a vacation, make sure they have a notarized medical consent form and copies of your children’s insurance cards in case of an emergency.
You can find free templates by doing a quick Google search or checking out sites like https://eforms.com/consent/child-medical/.
* I am not a lawyer and this is not intended to be legal advice. I just believe that some documentation of consent is a great way to be prepared and is better than nothing in the event it may be needed.
But, what if you don’t have someone to watch the kids for days on end or the finances to go away?
I get it. Not everyone may have someone willing to keep their kiddos for a couple of days. If that is your situation… you still deserve a break.
Swap babysitting nights with a trusted friend
When we travel for longer periods of time, my mom aka Grammy is always thrilled to watch our kids. For that, we are blessed. But, since my mom lives further away, we do have a very short list of friends who our kids can stay over with in the event of a late night concert or event. We are fortunate for that small village.
If you have one or two friends that you trust completely with kids of a similar age, suggest swapping nights and renting a room at a local hotel ( #staycation) or just enjoy a kid-free night at home.
Pamper yourself to a massage or spa day
Can’t get away overnight? Check out sites like LivingSocial to find a great local deal on a spa afternoon or fun date idea.
If finances are tight, consider getting a Credit Card with Great Travel Reward Features
Utilizing credit card bonuses to your advantage is how most ‘travel hackers’ get around so cheaply. If you can be responsible ( meaning…pay off your balance monthly), then using a credit card in the same way you would use your debit card can reap big rewards.
I personally use the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which packs on a huge bonus for new card members. Plus, it offers a fantastic rewards rate on travel and dining purchases. There is an annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year. This gives you plenty of time to earn and spend the bonus, and then determine if the benefits will outweigh the cost to keep the card depending on how much you spend.
Another great starter card with no annual fee that I like is the Discover It Miles card. Granted, Discover is not widely accepted overseas, but you can use it in the United States and pay for your airfare and hotel with the points. You are in control of your referral bonus, as the card will double your miles earned after the first year. This gives you a year to rack up points and pay for an amazing trip.
If you want to learn more, the Points Guy has a great guide reviewing the top travel credit cards.
Pair these credit card awards with a great cheap flight deal and your getaway may be more affordable than you think. My friend, Taima, has some great suggestions and strategies on how to find cheap plane tickets.
Also, sign up for my mailing list. You’ll receive my travel planning template and I’ll let you know when my travel course is available, which will walk you through the entire process of planning your dream getaway on a budget.
And if all else fails…
Brew yourself a cup of tea and lock yourself in the bathroom for an hour. Seriously, take time to get away and regroup. Make time for your spouse and yourself. I promise, the kids will be okay and you’ll be a happier mama when you get back!