Let me start off this post by stating that I love my children. I love spending time with them for 359 days out of the year (give or take.) But there was a time when I was not the happiest mom on the planet…far from it! I was cranky, tired and the people around me felt that negativity. Something had to give so one cold February in 2011, my husband was stressed to limit with work and I was a witchy crank so we planned a trip. Just the two of us. WITHOUT KIDS! Scandalous, right? I know, I was feeling a slight pang of guilt when we started to plan this trip and I was worried that the girls would miss us, but we were all VERY pleasantly surprised to see that none of that occurred when the time came around for our vacation.
If you need a retreat where you can recharge your batteries, catch up with your spouse and feel like yourself again instead of whoever it is you feel you turn into when it gets to be too much, then here are some tips to help you plan a vacation to anticipate before and dream about long after you have come back to reality. The picture above and further below are from our first vacation alone together since our children were born. We went to Los Cabos, Mexico.
- Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead- The most important question is: Who will be caring for my children while we are away? This is crucial and for my husband and me, we were fortunate enough to have my mom watch them for six days. It’s a 6 hour trek for her to drive from Minnesota to Illinois, but she loves spending time with the girls and vice versa. If one set of grandparents is busy or not able to watch them the whole time, reach out to other family members like your aunts, uncles and cousins. Or even try breaking up the time between relatives so that the kids aren’t wearing everybody out while you are gone. If family is not an option, plan your trip way, way out, like a year. Try using a babysitter recommended through friends or neighbors for a few date nights and see how your kids feel about him or her. Work up to an overnight trip to see how things go and then see if you feel comfortable leaving for a long weekend. It may take time, but you will get to a point where you trust them enough for 4-5 days.
Find Someone To Help With The Help– If you have the option of using family, try this idea. I hired a babysitter to come by in the afternoon when things began to get a little whiny, between 3 and 6 so that my mom could get a small break and prepare dinner, if needed. The girls had fun playing games with someone new and were less likely to act up.
Plan, Plan,Plan– This is what moms do best. We think of every possible scenario and the last thing you want to mull over while sipping a cocktail by the pool is whether you left the phone number for your pediatrician in a prominent spot. If the kids are very small and somewhat picky eaters then lay out a menu. (A sample menu will be in my next post.) I left money for things like ordering a pizza or going out for ice cream a few nights too. Have a small first aid kit handy, important phone numbers including your hotel, your flight information and nap and bedtime schedules written down.
Surprise!– I like to have a few surprises for the girls like a new cup or bowl with breakfast in the morning while we are away or something from the Dollar bin at Target that my mom can give them if she catches them being good. The biggest hit were the whoopee cushions last summer. 🙂
Groceries– Get some fun foods for the kids to eat while you’re away like mini containers of Edy’s ice cream or the small cereal boxes that come in a pack of 10. Our job is to make sure they eat healthy foods most of the time, but the babysitter can have the glory of letting them indulge for a few days.
Souvenir– Of course you can’t go somewhere and come home empty-handed so this probably goes without saying that you should pick up one or two small things you think the kids will appreciate.
Call Me, Maybe– My husband and I still have memories of when our own parents took the annual vacations without kids and whenever they called, that’s when we realized how much we missed them and the waterworks started. It’s not a bad idea to check in once or twice, but we prefer to keep it at that and totally immerse ourselves into our vacation. After all, you are taking it to relax, but if you call and find out that Toby spilled his juice all over the floor or Timmy got a boo-boo, you will be stressing about a sticky floor or lamenting that you are not there to kiss it and make it better. In the grand scheme of things, everyone will survive for 5 days that you are away. Unplug and unwind.
Now my husband and I look forward to planning our own vacation each year. We are closer as a result. Our children see that too and feel more secure knowing that Mom and Dad love each other more than ever. Oh, and cranky Mom? She still shows up sometimes, but it’s nothing a good workout or a night out with a few drinks can’t fix. Go on and plan your own trip. This is a challenge I am throwing out there to you. Let me know where you end up planning to go.
2 thoughts on “Vacation, All I Ever Wanted”
Amen, Sister! Just telling Jeff the other day that we need to get out of Dodge and plan our couple vaca for this year. Now I just need to figure out where we are going 🙂
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Can I go with? No, I enjoy the girls. We have fun eating out and shopping. Nice to get away, recharge.
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