8 Reasons Why All Parents Should Take a Kid-Free Vacation
Most parents probably spend a few moments fantasizing about a kids-free vacation every week. It may happen when your child is popping out of bed after you’ve already said goodnight five times or when you’re facing mounds of child-sized laundry or when you’re telling your kids to stop arguing with each other for the tenth time that day. Those moments of fantasy are as much a part of parenthood as dirty diapers and boxed mac and cheese.
The reality of the situation though is that for most parents the idea of a kids-free vacation remains a fantasy. There are so many excuses not to do it—the money, the effort that goes into setting your kids up to exist without you for a few days, the securing of childcare, the worry about what could go wrong… the list in our heads goes on and on.
We need to change this mindset as parents because the reasons to actually take that kids-free vacation are compelling to say the least. Here are eight reasons you need to consider before ignoring your vacation fantasies:
1. We need to let our kids have their space from us, and vice versa!
If we hold the reins on our children too tightly, how can they learn to be independent? Giving our kids the chance to do things on their own or do things differently when under the care of other adults allows them to grow in a way that they can’t when everything is routine and predictable. If you’re worried about your child feeling anxious while you’re gone, an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled The Overprotected American Child provides reassurance about why it can actually be helpful to give an anxious child a bit of freedom. Without trusting them with a little time away, “it reinforces to the child that there is something they should be scared of and the world is a dangerous place and ‘I can’t do that for myself,’” says Rebecca Rialon Berry, a clinical psychologist at the NYU Langone Child Study Center. Making the choice to leave your children under another trusted adult’s care for a few days also sends a message to your kids that you believe in them and trust them enough for them to be without you for a little while.
2. We can reconnect with our partners on a different level.
No matter how good you are at prioritizing your relationship with your partner, chances are that most of the time, you’re still putting the kids first. Getting out on a date night here and there is nice, but when you go away for a few days with your partner, you can both remember who you were before you became parents. A bit of time away from the kids allows you both to slip back into your fully formed identity that does not involve being dominated by parental roles. According to a Michigan State University article, not surprisingly, when the U.S Travel Association conducted a study of 1,100 adults, it revealed those that couples that traveled alone, even occasionally, enjoyed more romance, intimacy and were happier overall. Focusing on the family as a whole makes it easy not to give your relationship with your partner the time and energy that it deserves. A kids-free vacation gives you the opportunity to do so.
3. It’s fun!
Even when you are the type of family that eats out and travels the world together regularly, we all know that parents let loose in a different way when they don’t have to go home to the kids. You don’t have to think about modeling good behavior or the bedtime routine or whether you should have that extra glass of wine. When you have more time to yourselves as adults and not as parents, you can relax more, sleep more, and actually have the time to figure out how you want to spend (and enjoy) your time.
4. Your kids will have the opportunity to spend special time with a special someone.
It’s not easy to leave your kids with someone else, but if there is a grandparent or aunt or uncle or trusted friend available for childcare, your children will have the opportunity to get to know them on a whole new level. It’s so rare for children to have that extensive bonding time that comes along with a few days together with a special someone. They will have the chance to create new memories and strengthen their relationship in a way that would not happen otherwise.
5. You deserve it.
Going on vacation with your kids is not a vacation from parental duties. It may be a vacation from your 9-to-5 job, but there’s no escaping parenting unless you embark upon a kids-free vacation. You spend more hours taking care of parenting tasks and decisions than anything else in your life. Those hours don’t even account for the emotional labor of parenting. Being able to kick back and put up your feet is necessary for your mental health. It is self care at its best.
6. Breaking routine has its benefits.
There is nothing like routine and schedule to weigh you down, and so much of our routines and schedules come from parenting duties. The freedom that comes from a purely schedule-free time is rejuvenating and invigorating. When we’re on vacation with kids, we are creating unforgettable memories. Still, our bodies might be on vacation, but our minds and emotions are not. To truly let go and unwind take more than a couple of days of vacation without children, but once you reach that point, it is healing and an amazing way to recharge.
7. You and your children will have a new appreciation for each other.
A few days apart will have you all missing each other and appreciating each other in a way that can never happen when you’re together all the time. When you’re not consumed with stress and a non-stop schedule, you can see your children in the best light possible. And they will feel the same about you. The nagging and squabbles and minutiae of daily life fall away when you can find the time and space that you need.
8. You will be a better parent.
When you take care of yourself, you can take care of others better. When you take time for yourself, you can feel more present when you come home. You are setting a good example for your children when you show them that it is important to take care of you.
Not convinced to take a kids-free vacation? Check out the 5 Best Cities for Family Vacations.