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5 Reasons You Need to Take a Vacation Without Your Kids

For some moms, the idea of a week away (or even a night away) from their kids sounds like paradise….for others, it sounds like a nightmare.

I have to admit, I’m a big fan of ‘me-time’ and since becoming a mother over ten years ago, I have tried to work in little trips for myself at least once a year.  I’ve gotten to the point where I barely think twice about it – The kids are older now (11 & 7), they’re in good hands while I’m away, and I believe we all benefit from a little ‘absence making the heart grow fonder.’

That being said, I wasn’t a natural at this maternal separation.

The first vacation I took away from my daughter was nine years ago. She had just turned one and this wasn’t just a weekend getaway, it was a ten-day trip to Italy with my mom.

I wrote a blog post about the insanely detailed, 6 page list of childcare instructions that I left for my in-laws who were kind enough to volunteer to watch my daughter while my husband was at work during the day.  Here’s just a sample of how ‘unnatural’ my first attempt at maternal separation was:

Since the whole point of the post was to poke fun at how completely insane this note must have seemed to my in-laws, I was expecting (and did receive) comments suggesting that I have OCD and/or needed a hobby because I apparently had too much time on my hands.  But the vast majority of the comments that I received were from other moms who have written (or are in the process of writing) the exact same type of detailed instructions for their kids.

That’s when the other responses started rolling in

What kind of mom takes a 10-day vacation without her 1 year old?

My Kids are 6 and 3 and I still would never leave them, not even overnight!

How can you be apart from your kids that long? Life goes by so fast!

Who takes a 10-day vacation without your kids? Those days are over when you have children!

Do you agree that “those days are over” once you have children?

Sure, being a parent layers on a lot more responsibilities but it doesn’t mean that you’re no longer an individual. It doesn’t mean you and your spouse are no longer a couple. And in this case, it doesn’t mean that I’m no longer a daughter.

I tried not to get too defensive about these comments. I know I’m not a bad mom. In fact, I’m a darn good mom, and my guess is that these commenters are too. But their comments made me realize that there is a certain segment of the mommy universe that will find an excuse to not leave their children no matter how old they are. I would also argue that the people in this segment are probably the ones most in need of a vacation without their kids.

I challenge these moms (hell, ALL moms) to make a New Year’s Resolution to take a vacation without your kids this year.

Here are 5 reasons why:

Your Kids are Driving You Nuts

Whether your child is 14 months of 14 year old, chances are the majority of your life is dedicated to taking care of their needs: Cleaning, feeding, clothing, education, safety. 365 days a year. There are no other jobs where you would be expected to work so hard for so long without a little vacation time.

I’m sure there are signs you’re about to snap: Like you’re online making judgy comments about other people’s parenting decisions. Or your kids just rapid-fired so many questions at you that you involuntarily shouted: “Stop talking! My ears are full!”

 

You’re Driving Your Kids Nuts

Do you snap at your kids while helping them with their homework? Do you yell at your kids to hurry up and get in the car when you’re actually the one that made everyone late by getting sucked into a funny ‘goats who yell like humans’ video? Guess what? That drives them nuts. And you know who won’t do that to them? Whoever you have to come watch them while you go on vacation without them.

 

You Spend More Time Texting Your Husband Than Sex-ing Your Husband

Based on my informal study at my last wine night, most wives see their husbands about four hours each day. Two of those hours involve kids and the other two involve TVs. The majority of their interactions either happen through texts, over dinner (which primarily involves tag-team yelling at kids), and while brushing their teeth. Since we’ve already determined that your kids are driving you nuts, you’re probably often too distracted/tired/unhygienic for romance. You need a kid-free vacation with your husband. Having some time to love on each other will make you both much more loving toward your kids when you return.

 

You Wish Every Night Was Wine Night

You know how amazing you feel when you come back from a wine night or lunch out with the girls? Imagine that times three days. Make plans for a weekend getaway with your girlfriends. You’ll have an amazing time, your husband and kids will drive each other nuts while you’re gone and everyone will appreciate you 10x more when you return home.

 

It’s Important For Kids & Parents to Spend Time Together

Wait a minute…. Didn’t you just say that I was supposed to leave the kids at home?

Yes. But remember, you’re not just someone’s parent; you’re also someone’s kid.

I find it ironic that there are so many comments about life being to too short to be away from your kids when my post was about taking a vacation with my mom. I am her kid after all.   A one-on-one trip with a parent may not be for everyone, but if you’ve ever even considered it, don’t wait.  As I get older, I realize that those commenters do have one thing right: “Life goes by too fast”.

 

So, do any of these 5 sound like you? Then it’s time for a vacation without your kids.

You can start small with just an overnight at hotel downtown or jump right into the deep end with a ten-day European adventure.

Will you be nervous about leaving your kids? Yes.

Will your kids miss you? Probably for about the first 10 minutes.

Will everyone survive and end up having a great time anyway? Absolutely.

This is the year. Take that vacation without your kids.

Do it for you.

Do it for your kids.

Do it for your marriage.

Do it for your friendships.

Do it for your parents.

Don’t wait.

Like they say, life goes by too fast.

 

You can see the original ‘Childcare Instructions’ post here.

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————–

Once upon a time, I was a Senior Account Director at an advertising agency working for two of the top brands in the world. Nine years ago, I traded in my corporate life for a life as a stay at home mom, raising two of the best kids in the world. I started my blog, The Dusty Parachute as a way to dust off my online advertising skills and begin my job search. Instead, I now use it as a way to spend lots of time on the computer so my kids think that mommy has a job.

My essays have been featured in Scary Mommy, BonBon Break and Redbook and I’m also a contributor in the books, It’s Really 10 Months, Special Delivery and Martinis & Motherhood – Tales of Wonder Woe & WTF?!

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32 thoughts on “5 Reasons You Need to Take a Vacation Without Your Kids

  1. I was a stay at home mom who never had a vacation 20+ years ago. I raised three children with very little help from my first husband (their father). He believed child care was not his responsibility. That is why he is my ex-husband. I married another man who never had kids of his own. He helped me go back to graduate school and I became a cpa. Because I did such a wonderful job as an overworked, overwhelmed married single mom, two of my children struggle with addiction and homelessness. I am raising 2 of my grandchildren as a result of the exceptional job I did with my own and my current husband has discovered he should have had his own kids. My grandchildren are truly, absolutely wonderful. However, after four years of being a “working mom,” I need a break. I never planned on being a “working mom” and for the record, anyone raising children appropriately is a working parent. My husband doesn’t understand how I could want to get away from these adorable children. After what happened with my kids, I don’t understand how I could risk not taking a break.

    1. I was raised by a single mom who also never got a vacation (or a vacation from us.) Single moms are the true heroes of this world and I’m glad you’re finally getting some time, and support to take your needed breaks. Sending so many good thoughts to you and to your whole family.

  2. I would love to take a vacation without the kids! My husband and I have been married for a little over 10 years and still, to this day, we have not taken a child free vacation. We did not even take a honeymoon! Part of the problem is that he does not trust anybody. So, we never have anyone to leave the kids with, except my Mom whom lives (literally) 1,000 miles away. I know that I would be just fine on vacation…. without the kids (3 boys ages 12 yrs, 9yrs, & 2yrs)! Do you have any suggestions on how to get my husband to loosen up enough for us to take a vacation by ourselves? I am desperate for some alone time… BTW, we have gone on dates for 1 to 2 hours at a time, but during that time, he asks me every half an hour can you please call and see how the kids are doing!! Ahhhhhh, HELP!! PLEASE!

    1. Oh man, that is so hard. I would be tempted to say to arrange a little vacation (or even a staycation in town) as a surprise, but it sounds like this might be a little shocking to his system. For example, for my husband’s birthday a few weeks ago, I arranged for each of the kids to have sleepovers at their friends’ houses and I got us a hotel room downtown. We were only gone from 6pm-11am the next day and the kids had as much fun as we did.

      And if he simply can’t’ warm up to the idea, can you at least schedule a little getaway for yourself or with your girlfriends?

  3. My hubby and I take a couples vacation every year anywhere 7-10 days, last year we did Japan and this year Hong kong
    My son is 2 and he stays with his grandparents who also live with us
    We feel like it’s important once a year to reconnect as a couple especially with our stressful professions
    Whoever says this will cause psychological trauma to a small child is exaggerating
    Most small children won’t even remember that you were away years later
    It also helps them connect with other family members better and learn to be self reliable

  4. I hope you don’t mind a comment from a non-mom. I found this by Googling to see if it’s common to never leave your kid, because I’m really sad that a lifelong friend whose kids are six and eight won’t plan a girls’ weekend with me and a few other of our lifelong friends, pretty much ever. I tried to ask if we could plan it for a year or two into the future and got the whole “life is too short” and “before I know it they’ll be leaving home.” I was hoping (and assuming because I’ve never heard of this not leaving your kid thing, except when they’re tiny) that we’d be able to reconnect in a more concrete way now that her kids are in school. I’m really baffled and feeling kind of judgy about the whole thing but I guess she’s not the only one judging from the comments you mentioned.

    1. I was pretty surprised too. Granted, the case in my original post was pretty extreme (my mom and I went to Italy for 10 days when my daughter was a little over a year old.) But I’m surprised how many people I know who can’t believe I do an annual ranch weekend with my girlfriends or leave the kids with friends so my husband and I can have a little overnight in the city. The parents need a break, and quite frankly, I think the kids enjoy the break too. I hope your friend has a change of heart soon. I bet once she got through that first 24 hours, she would be scheduling her NEXT getaway.

  5. Funny! Thanks for the thoughts. My husband and I left our kids, ages 6, 4, and 2. For a whopping two nights. I felt very guilty. I later referenced this small trip to my son, about 6 months later. He didn’t even remember what I was talking about! That’s how devastating our leaving was 🙂

    1. Isn’t it funny how little they think about the things that we can’t stop thinking about? 🙂 My daughter is now 10 and when I talk to her about when I left her to go to Italy with grandma she thinks it’s awesome, so I guess I’m forgiven.

  6. Ok so I am a 20-year old college student and my parents would (maybe four or five times a year) go out overnight downtown or somewhere nice for the weekend and my sister and I always loved it; we either got to spend time with an awesome babysitter or a relative we didn’t get to see often. And my grandmother was a bangin’ baker. Even now that both my sister and I are out of the house, I’ll still go home and “babysit” the dogs so my parents can get out for a weekend (and so I can get off campus for the weekend). It’s always been a win-win for everyone involved.

    1. I totally agree – We do a kid swap at least once a year with our neighbor friends. We watch their 3 girls while they go to an all day festival in town and they take our kids at another time for an overnight. All the kids love it and I love that while my kids are over there they are exposed to different foods, chores and get a little vacation from us.

  7. I thought your first reason would be along the lines of “because being a parent doesn’t mean that your only remaining interest in life is your child, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 18 years.” Traveling to new places energized my soul and spirit. Why would I stop being interested in learning about and experiencing other cultures because I have a child? My child is fine with the grandparents. I think parents who are afraid to leave their children in incredibly capable hands are doing their child a disservice. Part of life is adaptability. As much as a parent’s ego might wish differently, your kid doesn’t need YOU every minute.

  8. i love BOTH of these posts! We left my (then) 8 month old with grandparents for a week in Hawaii. It rained the entire time, literally, and I loved it.
    My kids are now 9, 7 and 6. We leave them for anniversary weekends every year, and also for a weekend with friends. I come back recharged and relaxed.

    A few years ago, I went on a girls weekend with my mom. It was hard to get away but I could tell she needed me as much as needed her. She died after a short battle with cancer last year at the age of 59. I will never regret having spent special time with her. It’s true- you never get the time back- with your children, your parents, your spouse AND your friends!
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. I am so sorry to hear about your mother but what a wonderful gift for both of you to have that time together. That was actually the original inspiration for that trip: A friend and her husband were over for dinner and she had just lost her mother suddenly as well. The previous year they had taken a trip to France together and she could not even express how grateful was that she had spent that special time with her mom. She encouraged me to do the same, not out of fear of losing my mom, but just knowing that life has a way of getting in the way of these opportunities, so some times you have to MAKE the opportunity. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  9. I found your site through one of the many bloggers (ScarryMommy?) I’m following…. okay, I admit, I’m a serial blog stalker… 🙂 My father was active-duty military; meaning my mother was technically a single mom. We would always take working vacations where my father would opt to drive to the bases he was responsible for instead of flying. My brother & I got to see a lot of things most people haven’t. After the month long caravan across the country being stuck inside a van with a husband & 2 squabbling kids, my father would send my mom away for 2 weeks. It was a destination of her choice (within financial reason). It was the best thing for my mom to get away from us. Not only did my mom work, but she was responsible for an exceptionally sassy teenage daughter and a precocious little boy. I can’t tell you how many times she had to go to school on my behalf… LOL! I’m a single mom and I enjoy my alone adult time every chance I get. I will just stay home for 2 days and enjoy the quiet of the house. My mother instilled in me that I have to take care of myself before I can take care of my son. An unhappy (unhealthy) mother only results in an unhappy (unhealthy) child. 🙂 Thank you for your blogs. I’m definitely adding you to my stalking, er… following list. 🙂

    1. I just love everything about your story: that your dad honored your mom’s time alone that way and that she knew how beneficial it was to take him up on it. My mom was a single mom and except for about 2 work trips, she never got a single break for our entire childhood. That was the reason that I wanted to take her on the trip to Italy (from the original blog post with the childcare instructions). Plus, as the kids get older, I think they enjoy the breaks just as much as we do! 😉 Happy to have you following along!

  10. I’m reading this on night one of my husband’s amazing all expenses paid work sponsored eight day trip to the Carribean, with his dad as his guest instead of me. Staying home this year was the right call (no one would have been up for watching both munchkins for this long nor would I have been able to pump enough to keep the little one fed!) but I’m already feeling pretty determined to go next year, and I loved this post and the instructions. I made a similar list when I left my son with my parents for 12 hours the first time 😉

  11. I am totally with you on this one! Self-care is a huge part of being a good parent, and I think self-care includes time for yourself, not to mention nurturing the relationship you have with your partner. Plus, what a treat for the other family members! Last month my daughter (13 months) spent three nights with my parents so my husband and I could have a few days to relax and get some home projects done. My parents were in HEAVEN and completely doted on my daughter. She barely noticed we were gone–in fact, the only time they said she got upset is when we tried Face Timing with her. Did I miss her? So much! But did I need and enjoy that break? You bet! Plus, when I saw her again, it made me appreciate her that much more.

    I’m sorry you had to deal with these comments in the last post, but I am so glad you wrote a follow-up! Great post, stopping by from Sharefest.

  12. Ha, ha! I once left my sister a similarly detailed list. She said, “Why do you think I’m incompetent?” I replied, “I don’t, I think my children are impossible!”

  13. Great post. Even though I don’t have kids, I understand the importance of taking time away for yourself. You are important too. Just as couples and friends need time away from each other, so do parents and kids. It’s restorative and healthy. It’s not like you shipped them away to some evil child-eating witch somewhere while you went gallivanting across the world for a year. People need to get a grip.

    Good for you!

  14. Argh, I’m so tired of all the haters. Motherhood/parenthood isn’t easy, and it’s different for everyone. No one else is in your shoes…I like to think I’ve lived as Maya Angelou says: “You did what you knew how to do. And when you knew better, you did better.” Sometimes it just takes time…

    1. It was a big surprise to me too. In the course of 5 minutes I went from “confused” to “mad” to “oh my gosh, are they right?” to “you’re the bad parent!” and finally netted out with we just parent differently but hope the post outlined some things that encourage moms who haven’t taken a trip without kids to give it a try.

  15. Dear God in Heaven…I have never understood people who think it’s horrific and scary to leave their children and go on vacation. You know what happens when you leave for 10 days and come back? THE KID IS 10 DAYS OLDER. Not 10 months. Not 10 years. 10 days. Let’s all be reasonable here. You kid won’t be scarred. A 1yo isn’t even going to remember it, for crying out loud. It’s been my experience that the parents who “cannot possibly leave their kids that long…not even overnight” have more issues about needing to feel needed than with really thinking their child is going to spend years on a psychiatrist’s couch because they took a girls’ weekend when the kid was 2. And there is something to be said for allowing one-on-one time with grandparents. My children are INCREDIBLY close to my mother because they regularly spend the night with her. Not necessarily because they’re driving me crazy (although I won’t lie…that motivation has certainly come into play), but because my mom wants to spend time with her grandchildren and her grandchildren want to spend time with her. Why do I need to be in the middle of it all the time? Guess what? I don’t.

    Good for you for taking your 10-day trip with your mom. And to the parents who can’t live without their kids for even ONE NIGHT: get a life. Get a hobby. You’re supposed to raise your children to leave you. That’s the point. They need to become self-sufficient, functioning, contributing members of society. Time away is a good thing…even when they’re babies.

  16. I totally agree on your points AND I have family in town, but they haven’t taken my only child for more than 18 hours since we went to a no-kids wedding weekend when he was 2. My parents both still work and my mom comes to watch my son once after school a week (and they have pretty active social lives). Part of me would love to try asking, but the mom guilt is strong, so I am not sure I can bring myself to ask. But thanks for planting the seed 🙂

  17. My first response was, “Only five?” My second response was #2 was dead on! Also, I heart this: “I’m sure there are signs you’re about to snap: Like you’re online making judgy comments about other people’s parenting decisions. Or your kids just rapid-fired so many questions at you that you involuntarily shouted: “Stop talking! My ears are full!” Also, laughed out load at: “sucked into a funny ‘goats who yell like humans’ video.” And, I think I love you.

    Ppl who make negative comments like that are either crazy or have no life or are dependent on their kids/afraid to be w/o them b/c they have no life & that’s not healthy for them or their kids. I say life’s too short to have to spend every single freaking moment with your kids. My husband and I went on a 5 day trip to PAris for our anniversary a few yrs ago. Best thing I ever did. Here’s a little piece about it I wrote for a local website & put on my other site: http://staceygillink.com/paris-in-april/

    1. I loved your story & am so jealous! My husband will be taking a business trip to Germany in a couple months and suggested that I should come. Unfortunately, none of the grandparents are available for kid duty so I felt kinda like a big phony for typing up this post while I was turning down a trip to Germany. It’s mostly for my mom friends that are nervous to leave even their older kids for a quick overnight with their husbands. I like to think that the moms who were getting all judgy at me were secretly hoping someone would respond with some encouragement/assurance that they too should take a kidless vacation!

      1. What? You mean the grandparents did want to watch your kid again after that nice 6-page note you left them the last time? I’ll be surprised if they ever watch your kid again after that.

  18. I could not have said it any better! You do such a wonderful job of distilling my daily thoughts and feelings into a concise, funny shot-glass of relate-able prose. Keep on typing!

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