We leave today for our family vacation – to say that we’re excited is an understatement. Feel free to following along on Instagram. While we’re so thankful for the opportunity to travel as a family, we’re also keeping our fingers-crossed that Clay and I will be able to get away for a few days in August – sans kids. Ultimately the Army will make that decision for us but in the meantime, we’re brainstorming places to go on the East Coast within driving distance so we can maximize our time together. Over the years, Clay and I have taken our fair share of kid-free trips and to date, have yet to regret doing so. In fact, I am always encouraging married couples to incorporate kid-free trips into their marriage.
Not that everybody feels that way. In fact, a few years ago, I had acquaintance tell me that she loved her children too much to be away from them for longer than a night. I didn’t take her words personally. I’m secure enough in my mothering aptitude to know that spending time with my husband away from our kids doesn’t lessen our ability to parent effectively or have any bearing on our love for them. It does, however, mean that we celebrate our relationship and each other outside of our parenting roles. And it’s not like we’d be able to take our kids on a distillery tour in Scotland.
I get it – it isn’t easy. Our sans kids trips absolutely take more planning than our family vacations because they often involve multiple moving parts.
We took our first kid-free trip when the little guy was 15 months old, shortly after Clay returned from a year-long deployment. We left him with my parents and flew out to exotic Lawton, Oklahoma in order to look for a house. We didn’t have luck securing a house and the scenery wasn’t exactly what one pictures for a post-deployment vacation but we had a nice time, despite almost dying of cigarette smoke inhalation at a casino located on the outskirts of town. We’ve since traveled kid-free quite a bit – a mix of true vacations and PCS-induced travel. And I’ve learned a few things along the way…
It can be a logistics nightmare. I’m not going to lie – securing childcare isn’t easy. Both sets of our parents live far away from us and it always involves lots of logistics for us to get the kids (and Lucy) to them before setting off on an adventure. Most of our kid-free trips start off as family road-trips to get to either the Atlanta area or Wilmington, North Carolina. Therefore, we usually either fly out of Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta or Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
Being nervous is okay. The night before we left for Scotland, I tearfully told Clay that I was worried that six nights was too long to be away from the kids. He reassured me that it will be okay but if needed, we can always reschedule our flights once in country and return a day early. Just knowing we had that option was enough to calm my fears. And to be honest, the minute we stepped foot in the Atlanta airport excitement overtook my apprehension and I took comfort in knowing that our kids were safe and happy to be at their grandparents.
You’ll miss the kids. But not too much. We love traveling with our kids. They’re resilient, fairly well-behaved, and up for almost anything. But they’re still kids. Our kid-free trips are typically more extreme versions of our favorite activities. We’ll kayak for hours. We’ll hike 10 miles. We’ll swim super further out than we would with the kids. We’ll eat fancy meals and we’ll drink a little more. Because we’re doing things that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do if the kids were with us, we don’t feel sad or guilty about not having them with us. And they’re having too much fun with extended family to miss us anyway.
Just do it. So while the logistics of childcare and budget restraints don’t always make it possible, it is definitely worth putting forth the effort to try and make it happen – even if it is just for a night at a nearby location. You won’t regret it. I promise!