I love my kids, but sometimes it’s nice to have a break. When I have a chance to travel without kids, it can be nice to take that opportunity.
As parents, I think sometimes we can be too hard on ourselves. No matter what we try to do, there’s always something wrong with the choices we make. And no matter how much we say otherwise, we always feel some twinge of guilt in what ever it is that we do.
We feel guilt for not doing the right activities with our kids. And we feel guilt for giving them frozen pizza dinners when we’re too tired to cook dinner. Sometimes we feel guilt for putting them in nine hours of daycare while we focus on our careers. And sometimes we feel guilt for letting them watch the iPad while we get some badly needed work done. We even feel guilty for choosing to travel without kids. These feelings of guilt are inevitable, and perhaps hard-wired in our brains as parents.
Stop feeling guilt
But I think it’s time we stop and say, “hey, you know what? Screw you, guilt!!”
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. I adore them. And I cherish every moment that we spend together. But I also know that if I were to give every single piece of my being to them, I would be lost. I would no longer have an identity, and in losing my identity, I would no longer be the best mom I could be to my kids.
I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. And I also know that wanting time for yourself is not a selfish thing. In fact, it’s one of the most important things you can do for your kids.
Why it’s okay to travel without kids
A few weekends ago, my husband and I did a quick weekend trip to Las Vegas to watch one of my favorite bands from my childhood, Guns N’ Roses, in concert. (Yes, I realize this may come as a surprise to some of you that I’m a big GNR fan, but I suppose we all have our random quirks!)
My younger sister and her husband graciously offered to watch the kids for the weekend. And you know what? It was such a great trip! No juggling car seats or strollers through the airport, no checking to see if restaurants were kid-friendly, and no having to make sure we get back to the hotel at a certain time to get the kids to sleep. It was a blissful weekend of adultness, and I loved every minute of it.
As parents, we need these breaks every once in awhile. At the very least to reaffirm why we love our kids. If you’re still feeling that parental guilt for even considering the idea of traveling without your kids, fear not. Here are some more reasons why it’s okay to travel without kids.
Sometimes you need some time off
The last few months have been busy for us. Our lives are jam-packed with activities and obligations – work, ballet lessons, music rehearsal, freelance, blogging – as well as the day to day tasks of managing a household. The two of us were starting to go on auto-pilot and just going through the motions.
I love travel because it gives you a chance to break free from routine, and during times when raising a family gets too stressful, sometimes you just need a break. It was nice to unwind for a few days, walk around the Vegas strip and not have some place to be or something to do.
Focus on your relationship
One of the consequences of being too busy is that my husband and I started to spend less and less time together. Yes, we would see each other every evening and spend our weekends doing things as a family. But after the kids were asleep in their beds, out would come the computers and we would busily try and catch up on work, freelance, or side projects until well into the night.
Spending time next to your partner is not the same as spending time with your partner, and when you’re a parent, it’s so easy to forget that in addition to cultivating relationships with your kids, you also have to cultivate relationships with your partner. Grown-up travel without kids is so important for the health of your relationship because it gives you a chance to reconnect with your partner and remember why it is that you love each other.
Kids need a break too!
While we were away, we would talk to our kids every day on Facetime (if you don’t have an iPhone or if the person who’s watching your kids doesn’t have an iPhone, apps like Skype are useful to have for face to face conversations). It was nice to say hi and see their faces, but I was struck by how disinterested they were in talking with us.
Sure, they were excited to see us on the phone, but after five minutes of going over what they did that day, all they wanted to do was go back to playing. I have to admit, it made me a bit sad thinking that my kids didn’t miss me, but I realized that kids like taking breaks too. While we were in Vegas, my kids got to play on the beach, watch movies, play with dogs, and eat out with their aunt and uncle. They had a blast, and I could see that they needed a mini-vacation just as much as we did.
Travel (especially family travel) is about balance
As with anything, travel is about balance. I recently read an article about how your travel style evolves over time, and I think this is especially true with family travel.
In the beginning, all you want to do is travel with your kids, because they are so dependent on you. But as your kids grow older, and they become more independent, it becomes easier to travel without kids. If you’re still not sure about leaving your kids behind, know that they’ll be okay. They’ll survive, and more importantly, you’ll survive.
So stop worrying and go travel without kids. Go ahead and take that Vegas trip, like we did. Or spend a romantic week in Hawaii or Costa Rica. Or even book a room at the fanciest hotel in your town for the night. Consider this your permission to not feel guilty. You deserve it!
Do you and your partner like to take weekend getaways? Where’s your favorite place to travel without kids?
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