Should You Leave Your Kids at Home on Vacation?
As someone who’s been married for nearly 23 years, I understand the need for date nights and time without the kids. We need adult conversations, we need to eat grown-up food, and we need to not be interrupted every five minutes, even if it’s just for a little while.
And I think couples sometimes need more than just a few hours to themselves. We need kid-free vacations as well. I love family vacations, but there have been a few times in our 22+ years of marriage that we needed a few days to ourselves, so we took an adults-only vacation.
I understand some parents would never, ever consider doing this, because every moment spent with your child is special. More power to you! It’s important to spend as much quality time with your kids as possible. I’ve been lucky for the last several years, because I own my own business, which gives me a lot more flexibility than most people, and I can work from home when I need to.
It also helps that my kids are older — 19, 15, and 13 — so they’re able to handle that time apart. It’s not always easy with toddlers, because they never quite understand what’s going on, and time without mommy and daddy can be stressful. So you may want to hold off on the couple’s vacation for a few years. We never took these trips when our kids were small for the same reason.
How Couples-Only Vacations Help
I asked marriage speaker and travel writer Mike Willits of the Fighting Couple why they vacationed without kids. He said they use that time to work on their relationship. (Disclosure: Mike and Luci recently reviewed our Atlantic Unite 2 luggage, which is how I met Mike.)
“Today’s couples are under so much stress with work, family, and the demands of raising children,” Mike said. “ So often couples neglect to nurture their own relationship amid these challenges. A yearly vacation or even a few weekend trips as a couple can go a long way to opening the channels of communication and strengthen their bond.”
When we lived in northern Indiana, we left the kids with my in-laws, and headed to Indianapolis or Mackinac Island for a three-day weekend. And now that my in-laws live just a few miles away, we’re able to make plans to head to the Keys, or spend a very long day at Epcot, without worry.
But what if your in-laws or parents live far away? What other options are there? Here are a few ideas:
Vacation Near the In-Laws
Pick your vacation spot near your in-laws. You don’t have to stay with them — my wife says it doesn’t count as a vacation if you stay with family — or even in the same city, but if your parents or in-laws live close enough to your destination, take half a day, visit with them, get the kids settled, and go on to your final destination. It’s a nice chance for your kids to bond with the grandparents and really come to appreciate them.
Let Your Family Stay At Your Place
As Francis Bacon once said, “If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.” In other words, instead of taking the kids to the grandparents, bring the grandparents to the kids. This way, the kids can be in their familiar surroundings. Plus, you can visit with your parents/in-laws when you get back, and maybe save yourself a trip later in the year.
If you have just one child, and he or she is old enough, can you do a swap with your kid’s best friend’s parents? Offer to take their son or daughter for their kid-free vacation if they’ll do the same for you. It’s best if you only limit this option to normal weekend trips, Friday through Sunday. A weeklong trip is pushing it.
Let Your Single Sister/Brother Have a Chance
Some of you may be lucky enough to have a sister or brother, who not only wants to be the cool aunt or uncle, they want to see if they’re emotionally prepared to be a parent. While it may sound like a sitcom premise, it’s actually a great experience for everyone involved. Your sibling gets to see what they’re ready for, and your kids get to bond with your sibling. If nothing else, it’s a great way for young brothers and sisters to see how grownup brothers and sisters should treat each other.
Spending some quality time with your spouse can do wonders for your marriage and your sanity. If at all possible, take a short overnighter, or even a three-day weekend, and get a chance to remember why you fell in love in the first place.