I love a good vacation. Who doesn’t? But we may not have the same definition of vacation. I’m not talking about the version with the kids. I’m talking about a real vacation; I’m talking about taking vacation without the kids.
Gaaaasp! Without the kids? Heck, yes! Let’s be real, a family trip is not a vacation… it’s simply parenting in a different place. A much worse version of parenting. Schedules get screwed up. Eating habits get screwed up. Let’s not even talk about the napping and sleeping situations. No, a family a trip is not a vacation. In my mind, to qualify as a true vacation, it has be without the kids.
Not sold yet? Let me give you five reasons I insist on taking vacation without the kids.
- It’s a break from parenting – I love my kids more that anything, but parenting is inherently stressful. Yes, stress that I willingly signed up for, but stressful nonetheless. When you take a vacation, you can escape it for awhile. No tears, no wiping noses, no changing diapers, and no reading Good Night Moon over and over and over again. No refereeing, no policing the internet, and no answering to “Mom.” The whole point of vacation is to escape stress, in all of its forms, for a while, right? So I don’t feel guilty about leaving one major source of stress behind for a week. And like anything, once you take a break from it, even for a week, you get refreshed.
- It’s a chance to act like a grownup again – Without the kids around, we can do adult things. We can eat grown up food. We can choose restaurants without worrying if there is something the kids will eat. We can have a few cocktails. We can have a drink at lunch, heck we can have one at breakfast, too! We can swim, really swim, in the ocean. We can hike for miles and miles and miles. We can take a nap and eat a late dinner. We can go dancing. (Not that we do, but we can!) We can stay out late. We can (in theory at least) sleep late. We can watch R-rated movies. We can do all kinds of adult stuff!
- It’s a chance to reconnect with my spouse – Doing all of that adult stuff leads to conversations. Real conversations. Uninterrupted conversations. You know, the kinds of conversations we used to have before the kids came along. The kinds of conversations where you don’t have to spell anything. The kinds of conversations where you can complete a sentence without redirecting someones behavior. The kinds of conversations where you can have a real exchange of ideas. It’s in the course of those conversations that I remember that I still do like that guy I married. And those conversations help me connect with him.That connection isn’t just the intellectual type, that intellectual connection leads to an emotional connection and inevitably, it leads to a physical connection. Yep I’m talking about sex. The type where you don’t have to worry if the door is locked or if you’re being too loud. The type that got you into this very position that you’re in!!!
- It’s a chance to reconnect with myself – It’s amazing how just a few days without the kiddos helps me reconnect with myself, too. When it’s just me and my spouse, I can get a bit of exercise. I can read a book. I can get a massage, all without feeling too guilty that I’m not spending time with my family.
- It helps me appreciate those dang kids – Eventually though, I find myself missing those kids. Missing those cute little voices calling “Mom.” Missing those snuggles and bed time stories. Missing those chaotic nights when we’re doing homework way past bedtime. Funny, it’s in their very absence that I find myself recognizing and appreciating the fullness those dang kids bring to my life.
I’ve come to realize that it’s taking vacations without the kids that helps me be the mom I want to be. The mom who patiently reads Good Night Moon over and over and over again. The mom who observes from the sidelines and referees when necessary. The mom who carpools, sunscreens, polices the internet, and volunteers to bring yet another box of Ziplocs, snacks, or whatever else Ms. 4th Grade needs. The mom who answers to “Mom” over and over and over again, with a smile on my face.