This past weekend, I did something with my husband that I never thought I'd do…
We went on a vacation without our kids!
Every since becoming a mom over six years ago, it's been one of the biggest joys of my life. It's also become a role that has defined me (for better or for worse). I feel guilty when I am away from my kids and really minimize the number of work commitments or travels that takes me away from them. Bob and I make sure not to be away for work at the same time because we already feel bad about leaving them for work when we need to. So, we have never both left them both at the same time for fun. However, this past weekend, we took a three night trip to Maui…just the two of us!
This was us 12 years ago on our honeymoon—the last time we went to Maui. People always say that you need to make time to focus on your relationship because that's the relationship that made your children, and it's one that needs to be nurtured first and foremost. And, yes, I know that must be true. But with everything else going on in our busy lives, our relationship always came after kids, after work, after bills, after all the other things that needed more attention. That's not to say my husband I haven't given each other attention. It's just that most of the time we are pretty good. We communicate well, and we are mostly on the same wavelength. So in some ways, it felt like we didn't need to feed the relationship as much. But we did…everyone does no matter how good things seem to be. Despite knowing that my marriage needed to be nurtured, I didn't really want to go…
The reasons I almost didn't take a vacation without my kids:
1. Guilt. It feels like luxury to go on vacation. It feels like an even bigger luxury to go on a vacation without your kids. I felt guilty for doing this totally luxurious thing.
2. I worried I would miss them. And I did…miss them. A lot. But we Facetimed everyday, and I was texted regular photos of them throughout the day so I knew what they were up to and that they were okay. Of course, everything we saw and did while we were away made us think about much our kids would have loved seeing those things, too.
3. I thought my heart would collapse. Especially after last week's horrendous shooting in Florida, I wanted to hold my babies forever and never let them out of my sight. So to go away without them felt torturous.
Honestly, I would have never initiated doing this. My husband had won a vacation package at a charity auction last year and surprised me. He knew I would never do it unless he somehow made it happen without asking me. And, he was totally right. We completely needed to reconnect and redefine us…separate from our kids.
The reasons you (and I and all parents) deserve a vacation without kids:
1. Reconnect with your partner. It's not just the "sexy time" stuff I am talking about here because you can do that at home, too. It's the dinners out just the two of you with no one else to feed. It's walking around, holding hands, exploring just the two of you—without no one else to take to the potty. It's that stuff you used to do before grown-up life took over.
2. Extra sleep. Although I am well past the sleepless nights newborn stage, there are still nights when kids are sick, they need to pee, they lose their lovey, and you find yourself woken up by a small child. Or you wake up at the faint sound of someone coughing or crying on their sleep even though they are okay. Over this trip, I slept ELEVEN hours each night. ELEVEN! I maybe get 7 hours of sleep on a good night at home. I had no idea I was sleep-deprived until I just let myself sleep with no kids, house work, anything to keep me up or wake me up.
3. No schedule. Our lives are so go, go, go! We can all exist without a schedule for just a few days. We went on this trip with no plan, no itinerary, no reservations at any restaurants. We just winged it.
4. Learn that your kids will be okay without you. I worried that my kids would forget us. Or they would be upset that we left them. Or that their day and life and schedule couldn't possible go on without us. Going away helped me learn to trust they will be okay in the care of others who love them, too.
5. Reflect on how much life has changed (in a good way). When you have time one-on-one to reconnect with your partner away from your everyday life, it reminds you how far you've come (individually and together), how much you've done, what amazing kids you've created, and all the other things you have to be grateful for.
Last night, we got home late from the airport after our kids had already gone to bed. After a few nights away, I missed them SO much and had to go into their rooms and kiss their faces otherwise I thought I might burst into a million tiny pieces. My husband said that I was finally able to relax once I got home. And it's true. Being back home with my first love, back to our little loves is where I'm meant to be.
Have you guys gone on a vacation without your kids? Did you find it hard? Please tell me your ways so I can try to relax a little more next time!
Currently planning a babymoon in Maui! Where did you stay?!
Wow, loved reading this article & your insight. I don’t have kids yet but this is something that I worry about – will we ever have time to just ourselves & would we be able to do that without dying of worry / guilt?!?!
We haven’t taken a vacation without kids yet based on the same reasons that you listed. Maybe one day. It’s so hard especially in terms of guilt. We rely on the grandparents to take care of the kids when I have work, so I would have to rely on them when I want to have fun too. Mom guilt is so big.
My husband and I celebrated our anniversary being 2 nughts away, while our boys stayed with my parents, their aunt and uncle and cousins, all who they madly love. I knew they were going to be very well cared for and that they were going to have a blast. My husband and I had lost of little adventures together in a beautiful place. And yet I missed my boys all.the.time. Like you, I couldnt fully relax anf honestly I had to do a lot of mental work to let go and feel 90% happy. I have no advise, just a lot of empathy because this is who I am, I love them with all my heart and although they are exhausting, they also make me the happiest. They are my family now, they are my every day joy, and I am very attached to them. That’s it. No excuses.
We have a short trip to NYC planned in a few months without the kids (we’re from norCal and have a 5 and 1.5 yr old). The kids have done lots of one night sleepovers at my mom’s since the older one was 1.5, and one two night baby Moon before the 2nd was born. I’m looking forward to doing things at our pace, sleeping uninterrupted (though I’m the worst vacation sleeper), and having lots of one on one time with the hubby.
We went to the Ritz-Carlton!
We have our first vacation planned without kids this coming fall! We are going to Rome for our 5th anniversary for a little over a week. I am so excited. I am sure the guilt/worry will hit more once it gets closer, but both of our parents (who will split up the time babysitting) have been very supportive of us taking the time away.
Thanks for posting. I have an almost 5 year old and a 2 year old and a baby on the way. I’ve toyed with the idea of a weekend away but haven’t been ready to pull the trigger. As a working mom (which I’m sure you can relate to) I feel my time with my kids is so precious it’s hard to imagine giving up that much time with them! So I’ve opted for smaller amounts of intervals. One of my go-tos is for my husband and I to each take a day off of work and have a full day-date with each other (we had one of these this last Friday). And they are always great and I always wish we did them more. But one day once the new baby is older I will finally take a no-kid vacation!
We leave for a 10 day trip to India on Thursday! We are going for a friends wedding celebration/once in a lifetime opportunity and I am really getting nervous, anxious, sad and all the feelings about having our 3 yr old with my parents (the best grandparents ever) for that long. THANK YOU JOY for the reminders that things will be okay, that he will still love us and we will be a stronger couple when we get back. I also ways enjoy your perspective on all things design, small biz, style and most of all parenting!
Who did you leave your babies with? I want to do this but I worry more about the ones watching my kids hahaha. My parents don’t quite have the energy for an entire weekend!
My daughter is almost 3 and I’ve only spent one night away from her ever! My husband and I traveled a lot before she was born and have traveled with her some, but I’m really itching to do a kid free trip soon! I do worry about others watching her, even her grandparents, who are great but it’s hard to give up control! I’m a stay at home mom, and I’m with her all the time, which may contribute to why I feel that way. But I crave that carefree few days away, where we can just do whatever we feel like so I think we need to make it happen!
It is so hard! My husband and I just went to Key West for a long weekend and left our 5 and 2 year old girls with my parents. It was great to be with my husband, but we did miss them terribly. We facetimed them (sometimes twice a day) and got updates from my mom. So good to just be ourselves!!!
I sort of surprised my husband with a 5 day trip to Iceland – our first trip of more than 1.5 days away (together). It was AMAZING. I love our son more than anything (as we all do), but having the chance to live life on our own time was awesome. Doing what we want to do without having to adjust to the will of a fickle toddler was just what we needed – to remind us that every stage is a season and that we can do it.
i love this post. so true, all that you felt and wrote. we took our first trip away from our three kids when our eldest was 7 and our other two were 5 and 4. we were away for 4 days. it was hard but amazing at the same time. we had indulged in staying downtown in a hotel maybe once a year before that (while kids were sleeping over at the grandparents’), but had never left the city without them. it was pretty incredible just the freedom of doing and eating what and when we wanted. you forget what that feels like as a parent. 🙂 it was so nice to just have free time with my husband and for us to do things like we used to despite still always having our sweet kids on our minds. yay and congrats that you did it joy! hope there will be more trips to come.
Good for you for going, Joy, and I love that you and Bob did not have an itinerary!! The only time hubby and I have been to Hawaii (Waikiki) together was for our honeymoon five years ago, and now we have a 3-year-old son and 8 month old rainbow baby girl. The only time we have been away from our toddler was almost a year ago overnight (over 24 hours) a couple hours drive away for a marriage retreat/conference. Sadly, I can’t imagine doing that again anytime soon.
Reading this helped put my mind a little at ease! My husband and I are doing a baby free vacation in a month and I’ve been so sad about leaving without our daughter! Thanks for sharing!
Hi Joy, who minded the kids while you were away? I want to go away but know my two boys are a handful and don’t know who would mind them for 3 days and nights (2.5yrs and 1yr)
Our nanny (who has been with us for over 6 years and is like family) was with them 😉
Our parents all live on the other side of the country, otherwise, they would have watched the kids.
It was SO hard for me but I made it through and you can too! 😉
My husband and I traveled so much before our baby girl. It really made me feel alive! But now that she’s here I can’t imagine taking a trip and leaving her behind. I’d be worried sick. Even when I’m at work I’m always checking the nanny cam. She’s only 8 months too so traveling with her may be a challenge as well. Til then… I’ll be dreaming of the days of a relaxing getaway.
I feel you! It took me this long to do it so you have time!! 😉
It’s tough to be away when you have babies! Once they get older, I imagine it’s a little easier but never totally easy 😉
So great you had the chance to do it too!!
What an amazing surprise! And yes to the seasons!
Agreed! Thank goodness for FaceTime!
You can work up to it! No rush just when you feel ready!
Our amazing nanny was with them for the weekend. She’s been with us for six years so we knew they were in good hands even if I still worried the whole time! ;P
Yes, he will be okay! We are back home with our kids now and they act like we never left!
I agree the guilt can be worse when you are away from them all day on most days for work. But yes, after your newest babe is a little older, that will be a great time!
That’s so amazing! And parental support means everything!
Yes! Excited for you!
Yes to all of that! 😉
It’s SO real. But someday you can do it!
Ha! Good question! 😉
? for all of the above! Glad you guys had a wonderful trip. My husband and I are doing our first weekend away from our kiddos in a few months. I’m both excited and also feeling Mom Guilt…
Speaking of the trip, my husband and I will be in Philly for our friends’ wedding. We have some of our old favorites (shops and restaurants) but are there any places that you would recommend?
We leave our kids at least once a year. I am always so worried right when we drop them off to grandma or auntie, but by the time we land in the new destination I’m just fine! They get spoiled, and we get to be just us again! We are going to Bora Bora in a month and I just can’t wait!
That’s so wonderful you have made it a point to do once a year!
What a lovely idea! thank you for sharing so honestly. Curious how you communicated /prepared the kids about your both being away? Any tips on how to do so?
That’s a great question!
Our little one really didn’t absorb it too much as she’s too little to really understand but she knew we were going to be away for a few days. Our older one understood and we told her that Mommy and Daddy are best friends and needed time to hang out the two of us and focus on loving each other. Of course, she asked to come along but we reminded her that we have a big family trip coming up for Spring Break so that seemed to help. I think the main thing is also telling them about it vs. asking them. It’s not their choice but you want them to know that you are choosing to do this and why it’s important for your family.
Good for you, Joy! I had the luxury of a childless sister who, with her husband, offered regular sleepovers for my boys when they were little. What a shot in the arm it was to drop them off on a Friday night and not pick them up until noon on Sunday! They had a ball and we got to finish our sentences, stay up late and/or sleep in, go out to a movie or browse used bookstores. We went their whole life not getting away on a vacation without them b/c I could not pull the trigger on getting our will in order and designating who would raise them if we were not alive. Finally made that happen when they were young teenagers but by then they were so much fun on trips that it was not even an option! We did get away for random overnights when they both had sleepover invitations from friends on the same weekend. I’ll be interested to see if you and Bob do this more regularly now that you’ve tried it and succeeded!
What an amazing gift and sister! That sounds wonderful!
Yes, we hope to make it a regular thing but have not planned that out yet 😉
Yes to this! It’s my number one advice to new parents – rip the bandaid early and it won’t be so hard on them or you! We did one night away at 6 months, 3 nights at 10 months and now try to do a long weekend each year. It helps that we have amazing grandparents and it truly is a vacation for our daughter, too! She gets spoiled, we get sleep (and amazing adult only restaurants) and the grandparents love it. Now our daughter is almost three with a new babe on the way and we are already looking forward to a sleep-filled night away once new babe is 6 months old! You deserve it mamas!
My second is only 5 months old so we haven’t left them both yet but we went away a few times a year from when my eldest turned one – in saying that we go to the family beach house which is only a two hour drive away. The first day I always felt so guilty but by the second I just wanted to stay longer (hehe) and then we had to go home. I think the reason I could relax was because I knew she was with my parents who she absolutely adores and they do an amazing job looking after her (and spoiling her!)
I’m meant to be going to Melbourne in a few months for 3 nights and the sheer thought of flying away, not driving, makes me lose my breath… I don’t actually know if I will go (my husband would stay and he is a fabulous Dad but my second would only be 8 months old)
In the future we are definitely planning both parent-only vacations and vacations with our children, I think it is really important to do both! We travelled to Japan while I was 20 weeks pregnant with our then 2 1/2 year old last year… that was an experience to say the least! :))