Once a year, my husband and I take a trip together sans kids. We started doing this three summers ago after realizing that the cost of one trip would make up for all the date nights we fail to take throughout the year. I don’t know that this psychology is backed by marriage therapists (would we call this “marriage math”?), but for us, taking one trip a year feels easier and more fun than going out weekly or monthly.
What are the logistics?
We’re lucky to have family nearby; if we didn’t, it might be more difficult to take the trip. I, the planner in the relationship, start planning the vacation a few months ahead of time. This gives me enough time to notify the grandparents when they’ll be needed. So far, we have planned our trips during school breaks so the grandparents don’t have to worry about school transportation, packing lunches, or homework.
Where do we go?
We took our first adults-only trip when our kids were nearly 6 and 4, and 14 months. It’s not lost on me that babysitting these ages is exhausting, so we kept our trip short and continue to do so. Driving and/or flying from the Indianapolis area, we’ve been to:
- South Haven, MI. This is a cute beach town about a 3-hour drive from the Indianapolis area. We stayed at an adults-only bed and breakfast for two nights.
- Disney World. We went here for our ten-year anniversary, for three nights and four days. You can pack in more when the kids aren’t there, and it’s so much fun!
- Mackinac Island, MI. This island lies between the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan and is about a 7-hour drive + a 15-minute ferry ride from the Indy area. There are no cars on the island, and it’s an experience like no other. We stayed here for three nights, which seems to be the sweet spot for us when leaving little kids.
How do we get over missing the kids?
I tend to get anxious leading up to the trip. Will they get sick? Will everyone be safe? Will they behave? It can keep me up at night. I recognize that I will miss them initially, but once we’re there, it’ll be okay. And for my kids, we’ve learned that calling and FaceTiming is not helpful, so we limit that.
How do we prepare the caregiver?
I like to prepare some things for my parents in advance so we’re not having to text or call back and forth once we’re on vacation. On the fridge, I put:
- A list of meal and snack ideas (and stock the fridge beforehand)
- Daily routine/bed and nap time schedules
- Insurance and HSA cards (My parents had to use these for my daughter on our last trip!)
It’s also a good idea to contact your pediatrician and authorize the caregiver to bring the child in if needed. We had not done this, but I was able to give verbal authorization over the phone.
What could we possibly have to talk about?
I’m kidding…kind of. Having three or four whole days together with no interruptions can be strange when our days are normally spent as a family. It’s an adjustment, and even if all you do is talk about your kids, I think it’s okay! By the end of the trip, you’ll make new memories to talk about — like the time we accidentally got lost while hiking and ended up in someone’s backyard. Oops.
Is taking the parents-only trip worth it?
It can be a lot of work preparing to leave the kids and believe me, there have been times when I thought it’d be easier to take the kids with us. But at the end of the day, we have never regretted a trip we’ve taken, and it is so good for our marriage, and therefore good for our kids.