Getting away…leaving the kids for a grown-up vacation

Posted by Stacy Baas on November 15, 2012 0 Comments

My husband and I recently went on a short vacation WITHOUT our daughter. It was arguably the best 3-day weekend we’ve had in our 10 years together. Yes, part of it was the destination (If you don’t have Big Sur on your bucket list, you should. And may I add that you should stay at Treebones in October?). And of course, part of it was the much needed extended time together that we don’t get that often anymore. But the best part of the weekend was all of the time we spent talking about our next trip. You see, we finally feel like our daughter is getting to a place where it’s OK to leave her with her grandparents or awesome aunties for a while. And with that reality comes the ability to think about future trips. And if there’s something that my husband and I love to do more than anything else, it is to think about the places we’ll go together.  That kind of joint dreaming is as good as couples counseling (at least around my house), and waaayyy more fun.

So to all you parents out there who worry about leaving your kids for a night or two, I want to encourage you to give it a shot. Start small – an overnight in a local hotel, or even a day trip that has you coming home in time for one last goodnight kiss to the kiddos – then branch out from there. You’ll quickly find out that not only does everyone survive, but everyone is a little happier, saner, and more appreciative of one another when you come back.

To help you along, I’m writing two consecutive posts – one for ensuring the kids are alright while you’re gone, and the second for ensuring you have a great time too. Put ‘em together and it’s a recipe for family harmony (if I do say so myself):

Part 1: When the parents are away, the kids get to play

The truth is, if you know your kids are miserable while you’re gone, you’ll be miserable too. Ensuring it all goes smoothly on the homefront will help you relax and have a great time while you’re gone. A few tips:

And we’ll have fun, fun, fun… While you’re planning your glorious time away, take a little time to plan some fun for your kids while you’re gone. Having a trip to their favorite amusement park, zoo or pumpkin patch on the horizon will ease the concern of having Mom & Dad go bye-bye.  Likewise, favorite foods in the fridge, a new book to share, or the promise of a beloved movie before bed are all small tokens to ensure your vacation is a treat for everybody, including the grandparents, aunties or uncles who are taking care of the kiddos and doing you a great big favor.

Routine, routine, routine: Yes, your kids should have a lot of fun while you’re gone. But they should still eat their broccoli at dinner and be in bed at their normal times. You know what happens when your kid gets off his or her routine, and it isn’t pretty. Make sure your caregivers know the routine and know it well. Write it down if you need to. Everyone will be happier while you’re away, and you’ll be happier when you return.

Make a daily phone date: It’ll ease everybody’s mind if you know that you get to talk every night before bed (or before nap, lunch, etc.). Make a plan with your kids to talk every day, and stick with it. And if your little one isn’t exactly of phone-talking age, try to Skype for a minute or two. It’ll probably make you all miss each other more, but that’s kind of the point too, isn’t it?

Remind yourself that this is as much for them as it is for you: We all want independent, confident kids, right? They don’t get that way by being with their parents 24/7. Certainly, our time away from our kids should be reasonable in length, but a few days of hanging with Grandma and Gramps shows them that a) they are loved deeply by people other than their parents and b) they’re brave and strong. If you ask me, those are pretty good lessons to teach any kid at any age.

Next week: Making that trip away awesome for you. 



Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur: Does it get any more beautiful than this?

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