Friday, October 30, 2009

tips for guilt-free childless vacations

My husband and I just returned from a night out of town away from the stresses of our jobs and the wails of our little boy. I’m pathetic when it comes to leaving my little boy, even for one night. Yet, the minute I pull out of the driveway with my packed bags in tow, I feel the weight of responsibility lift. It takes no time to fall into the pattern of sleeping late and find a little peace.


U2 from the nosebleed seats

It’s been years since my husband and I have vacationed, just the two of us. But we’ve been planning this trip for months – since my husband heard U2 would be performing in Atlanta. We purchased our nosebleed section tickets (that’s what we get for waiting two days to decide to go), booked a luxurious suite at an amazing B&B, and made reservations at perhaps the best restaurant in town, where, by the way, we dined with a celebrity. (OK, so he was at the table next to us, does that count?)

It seemed a little easier to leave this time. I’ll credit some tips I picked up these past few weeks:

Leave the guilt behind.
There are countless benefits to vacationing without kids. Relationship experts say that marriages get stronger when spouses slip away together. “You get to focus on each other without interruption,” Charlotte Shoup Olsen, Ph.D., an associate professor with the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University, said in an interview with MomsToday. “To keep really connected to each other, couples need to know what is happening to the other person.”

Experts agree that getting away from the daily stresses, like laundry and lunch packing and dinner making and job deadlines, makes us adults more pleasant to be around when we do come back to town, which in turn benefits the children who have to deal with us. So, why carry around guilt for taking some much needed time off from the kids?

Disrupt your child’s life as little as possible.
When my son was 3, we left for a week to care for my dying grandfather. Leaving my son was torture. I worried that he couldn’t understand why Mommy and Daddy left, and communicating it to him seemed impossible. But we prepared the best we could, arranging for his grandparents (with the help of his sitter) to keep him on a schedule he was familiar with. That included regular naps and snack times as well as visits to his part-time preschool.

Now that he’s older – nearly 6 – he understands what we mean when we say we’ll be home Wednesday. We can talk to him on the phone and tell him how much we miss him. We also encouraged his grandparents to keep to his schedule, which included introducing the grandparents to that machine known as “carpool line” and transporting their grandson to his weekly soccer game.

Take Precautions.
Sure, you don’t want to think about you children getting sick or hurt while you’re gone. But just in case, it’s best to be prepared. Set out your children’s insurance cards, leave the number to their doctors offices, and leave contact information for relatives or friends who can step in the event of an emergency or if assistance is needed. You may also want to have an Emergency Medical Authorization Form prepared so as not to delay any necessary medical treatment and to help cut through any “red tape” at the hospital.

Chill out.
Sure, the grandparents may feed your child those vile chicken nuggets, forget to toss him in the shower, or send him to bed two hours late. But this is why your child loves to be with them! Think of it as a vacation for your child. Instead, focus on spoiling yourself by eating well, taking long baths, and sleeping in. Those grown-up vacation luxuries will be mere pleasant memories soon enough.

Photo, JWJourney

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