Family Life

Parentcation: Leave the Guilt Behind

It’s vacation time! But, what if I told you that you could spend a vacation without applying sunscreen to little faces, just your own and your SO’s? Let’s talk about taking a couple’s vacation.

How do I forgo the guilt?
Consider this an extended date night, or at the very least, a break. You’re going to have many family vacations with your children in the future. Taking a parents-only one isn’t going to destroy your child’s psyche or make them hate you forever. Trust me, I would know. 

When I was little (probably your child’s age), my parents took a weeklong vacation aboard a cruise liner to Cozumel, Mexico. They left me and my younger brother in the care of our older siblings. We had the time of our lives playing video games, hanging out together, and being a little rambunctious. We may or may not have broken a few house rules, but I’ll never tell! While our parents missed us, they checked in on us as much as they could while taking the time to enjoy themselves. They came back home refreshed and ready to be Mom and Dad again.

Don’t just take it from me. Plenty of local parents weighed in with their own advice:

“Remind yourself you deserve it. Parents work so hard to give their kids everything they need and then way more. It’s easy to neglect ourselves and our relationships when we put so much focus on our kids and get caught up in the chaos and business of life,” advises mom Amelia Chandler. 

“If you’re not taking care of you, you aren’t the best version of yourself. A stressed adult isn’t good for the kids or the adult. So take the time to focus on you and your partner to be the best you for your kids, yourself, and your relationship.”

To make it easier on you and your spouse, take timing into consideration. Going on vacation during the school year means the kids are busy all day and out of the sitter’s hair.

“Vacation with your spouse while the kids are at school (if you have a good support group like grandparents), but include the kids on a trip during their holidays or in the summer,” comments Rebecca Leigh.

What do we do together?
For your extended date night, recoup, and hang out together. Here’s my R&R guide:

  1. You’re on vacation with someone you love! Try to stay present in the moment by putting the phone down and really focusing on each other.
  2. Don’t book a whole itinerary. The only people you need to entertain are the two of you, not a bunch of  rambunctious kiddos.
  3. Plan a few things you would like to do at your destination, but leave lots of room for spontaneous activities. You’d be surprised how exciting (and rewarding) a late-night gas station snack trip can be.
  4. Sleep in and talk before rushing out of bed. Nothing beats solid sleep and a calm conversation without getting interrupted by requests for breakfast.
  5. Depending on where you go, enjoy the amenities to the fullest. Go to the pool or hot tub together, or maybe schedule a couple’s massage.

Okay, I'm convinced. Where do I go?
Maybe you want to soft launch this whole “couple’s vacation” thing. What’s nearby but not too close to the children?

Connect with nature by going camping (or glamping). Louisiana and Mississippi have plenty of state parks that offer tent camping and cabin camping. Go fishing, walk some trails, and more.

Hot Springs, Arkansas is the closest luxury destination around. Spend the day hiking, exploring, and dining, or dance your way into one of several spas offering a dip in the hot springs (and a vigorous massage)!

Vacationing at the beach is one of the most classic vacations you can think of. Hit the road and plan a visit to an Alabama or Florida beach without worrying about dragging the kiddos’ toys, floats, snacks, and other beach day prep with you.

If you’re really excited to get out there, increase the buffer zone. Cruise liners are a great place to start. A Caribbean or Alaskan cruise is perfect for detoxing from social media and the family for a few days. Enjoy music, food, onboard events, and exploring a new vacation destination once your feet hit the sand.

Overall, this is a vacation that is entirely up to you and one that you deserve. Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs out there, so don’t feel guilty about needing a break. Reconnect with your spouse and don’t be afraid to indulge yourselves. ■

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