Raise your hand if you love to travel! That is definitely me and my husband. Whether it’s exploring new places or revisiting old favorites, we love to get away and have fun. But it can be hard to do this once you have kids. So many questions pop up when considering a kid-free vacation: Who do we leave them with? How long can we be away? Will my kids hate me if I travel without them? Am I a bad mother for leaving them?
Rest assured, you are NOT a bad mother, and you CAN get away and enjoy time with your spouse or significant other and have everything go smoothly. My husband and I take at least one trip alone every year, and sometimes two if we can make it happen. We have gone away for almost a week and just a quick overnight.
It is so important to spend this quality time together and remind yourself of who you are outside of being a parent. To have fun with the person you started this whole crazy parenting journey with. To look up and see a world full of rich culture outside of the small one you inhabit every day.
A kid-free vacation is possible and totally fine, and I have tips for planning a successful getaway sans kids. And if you are looking for ideas of where to go, I really like this list from Travel + Leisure!
Who Will Take Care of the Kids?
I am lucky in that my parents and my husband’s parents are both willing and eager to watch our kids for us to get away. Most of the time we let them tag team the girls, each watching them for two or three nights at a time and then handing over to each other. As much as they love our children, I know it can be hard to watch little ones when you aren’t used to doing so, so we try not to have our girls overstay their welcome.
If this will be the first time the grandparents are watching your kiddos, maybe start with just one or two nights. Go into town and stay at a swanky hotel, order room service, and sleep in! Or drive somewhere not too far away (Austin, Fredericksburg, Galveston) and enjoy a quick 48 hours vacay. The good thing about Houston is that there are numerous places you can go that aren’t too far. These quick little trips are a great start to see how everyone does. And if this goes well, then you can do a longer vacation in the future.
If there are no grandparents in the picture, then consider aunts and uncles. Your kids will have fun staying with family, especially if there are cousins to play with. This can be a great bonding experience of extended family members to enjoy time with your children.
And if family is out of the question, do a friend kid swap. I know couples who have watched each other’s kids as a trade-off to get away. One couple goes away at some point for a few days and the other couple watches the kiddos. Yes it will be tiring and maybe overwhelming, but just think of how nice it will be to enjoy a kid-free vacation as a trade off!
And lastly, if you don’t have any family or friends that can help, bring in an overnight babysitter. It can be anyone from a professional you hire to a neighborhood teenager or college kid that is willing to come spend the night at your house.
A Few Tips on Leaving for a Kid-Free Vacation
For whoever is watching your kids while you are on a kid-free vacation, try to place yourselves in their shoes and walk through a typical day as someone who is just coming into your home for the first time. Let them know where important items are, and maybe even pull them out or make notes. Go over a typical routine, especially for mornings and nighttime.
If your kids are going to daycare or school while you are gone, notify them that this particular person will be transporting your child. Make sure your caregiver knows the location of the school and any activities your children have that they are expected to attend. Write down addresses and directions.
Also be sure to also write down emergency contacts, such as doctors. My youngest child has epilepsy and sees a specialist as well as takes medication, so I lay all her meds out with a written schedule. I leave a note with her pediatrician and neurologist’s numbers as well as the address of what hospital I would want her treated at, should any emergency happen. Of course, I expect to be notified in this instance, no matter where I am!
Your Kiddos Will Be Fine
If your children are old enough, have a conversation with them and let them know that you will be going on a trip without them. There may be tears at first; assure them that you will be back and that they will be well looked after while you are gone. My parents and in-laws always plan some fun activities while they are watching my girls, so I really hype this up to get them excited to stay with their grandparents.
My oldest is 5 years old now, so the last few times we have been away she has been sad that she can’t come too. I explain to her that Mommy and Daddy need some time to spend with each other, and that she needs some time to spend with her grandparents without us. Most of the time she understands, even if she is still bummed she can’t go along.
I never feel guilty about leaving my children for a kid-free vacation. I know they will be in good hands and will have fun while we are gone, and will enjoy bonding with other members of the family.
But more importantly, I need time away from them. I need time to miss them, and appreciate being around them. You can start to lose this if you are around your kids all the time. And they need time to miss me as well!
I also need time with my husband. It is so nice to get to hang out with my best friend without worrying that someone needs a diaper change, or is hungry, or is too tired to walk anymore and needs to be carried. I love that we can go do fun things that would be so difficult with our kids along. We stay up late and sleep in. Sometimes we are lazy, and other times we are adventurous. We love to sightsee and eat at exotic places and revel in our environment. Since having kids, we have traveled to New York, Fredericksburg, Las Vegas, Sonoma, The Bahamas, Arizona, San Francisco and Austin. And we definitely have plans to go many more places in the future!
I fully believe that your spouse or significant other is the most important relationship in your life, outside of the ones you have with yourself and your God, if you have one. They are more important than your children. After all, if the marriage isn’t thriving, the family won’t either. It is vital to take the time to continue to build this relationship, even more so the longer you are together. To spend quality time with each other that is filled with fun and passion and romance and relaxation and love!
If you have never gone away without your children, then I encourage you to make a kid-free vacation a priority before the end of the year. You deserve it! Your kids will be fine, more than fine, without you for a time. Especially when you bring them back fun, exotic presents!