Tips for vacationing sans kiddos
Back in March, my husband and I got away for a few days without the kids to celebrate our 5 year anniversary. After we returned and I wrote this post, I had a friend who also has small children ask for tips on preparing to make a similar trip a reality for her and her husband. I just recently responded to her question and, after reading over my email, decided the content could potentially be helpful to others. Hence, this blog post. So, here they are – some tips for parents regarding how to prepare for getting away sans kids!
- You must first be convinced that time away together is important. It is so easy to get caught up into giving the majority of our emotional energy to our children only to give our husbands the leftover emotional scraps. Do we really believe (as I do) that our husbands are supposed to come only after God and before our children in priority? If so, we need to put our money where our mouths are and live like it. [gulp] This is a particularly hard one for me when I feel incredibly spent from all that comes with being home with my kids all day, but … no excuses.
- Begin going on dates without the kids starting now, if you don’t already. Your kids need to know that Mommy and Daddy need time away just for them – explain that Mommy and Daddy love each other and that when 2 people are married, they need to go on dates (or whatever you want to share with them in that vein).
- Choose someone you would trust to watch your kids for a few days while you’re away, then begin having them babysit fairly regularly so your kids become comfortable with them. Choose friends or family you really trust and who really love your kids. If you then experience irrational fears about whether the kids are ok when you’re gone, you can remind yourself (or your spouse can remind you) exactly why you chose those particular friends/family to watch your kids. Once you do that, you can rest in the fact that, while no one can care for your kids the way you and your spouse do, others are very capable of caring for them well.
- If you are nervous about leaving your kids for a few days, then work up it. Start with being away for a few hours while leaving your kids with your chosen sitter. Then leave them for 1/2 a day. Then do a full day away, then an overnight trip. You get the picture.
- If you have multiple children, keep them together if possible (if it’s not too many children for the sitters you have chosen). I tend to think there are times my kids do better in difficult or unfamiliar situations if they at least know they are with each other.
- Consider how much of their comfort level your kids need to stay in based on their personalities. While I think our kids would actually enjoy being in someone else’s home for a few days, my parents watched them at our place while we were gone. This allowed for the comfort of being in their most familiar environment, sleeping in their own bed, etc. in the event of moments of struggle.
And while the following is not a “tip” per se, I wanted to pass along the reality of something I struggled with once we had left the kids to begin our trip. I found that it took me a good 1.5 days to kick out of, “mommy mode,” (and even then, I still found myself often thinking about the kids) and really focus on fully enjoying being with Shun-Luoi. Because I stay at home with my kids, they are my almost constant sidekicks and the ones I pour so much of my emotional energy and time into. Once we left for our trip, it was really odd to be away from them even though I desperately needed and wanted to be. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure Shun-Luoi kicked out of “dad mode” the moment we drove away from the house. This was not wrong of him, but just a difference between us. We just kept communicating about that difference and at some point, I had to forcibly stop mentioning the kids every time I thought of them in order to really, really focus on Shun-Luoi and our time together. It was helpful that Shun-Luoi had planned out a few things for our trip, including a list of specific and intentional questions to talk about when we had time to do so. It was not that we wanted things to be contrived, but it was helpful to be intentional in conversation during our time together. In addition, having the list of questions helped to steer conversation away from only talking about the kids, which we all know can easily happen when a husband and wife are away from their kids.
Preparing for a trip away with your spouse takes intentionality and time, but it is incredibly worth it. You might just want to begin making your plans today.
For those of you who have already ventured away from your kids for vacation, do you have any additional tips to share?