Adult Swim: Allowing Yourself a Child-Free Vacation

by Kerry Hart, LLMFT

Taking a vacation is a luxury you may want to share with your family, but no matter how precious your little ones are, they are still children. When parents take their children on a getaway, they may end up feeling as though they need a vacation from their vacation. It’s nearly impossible to have a stress free experience at the airport, especially with youngsters in tow. Thinking about driving to your destination? Get ready to spend ample time considering games, movies or activities to keep the complaints at bay and everyone’s spirits up. Alternatively, you could choose to take a real vacation and leave the kiddos at home to take care of yourself and your relationship!

Give Yourself Permission

Being a parent is one of the most selfless jobs out there, and if you are doing it right you are putting your child and their needs first. When you spend every day making your kid your priority, you occasionally have to take much needed time to yourself. Allow yourself the opportunity to be selfish on your next vacation. While it may feel uncomfortable at first, a recharge will do you wonders. Once you return, you will find you will be a better parent with blissful memories of sleeping in to hold you over for another year.

Working parents spend 40+ hours per week handling business that doesn’t focus on their family, and their days include little down time. Stay-at-home parents often don’t have five minute to themselves. Whatever path you choose, odds are you need a break! Parents function as their best selves when they take time to focus on themselves every so often.

Step Back to Step Forward

Your romantic relationship is not one that should be put on the back burner for 18+ years while your kids are growing up. Remember who you were before you were nothing more than taxi drivers, or worse, human Kleenexes. What made you fall for each other in the first place? Did you enjoy long evenings of riveting conversation or—dare I say it— dancing? Did you have hobbies that included more than little league baseball games and PTA meetings?

Keep in Touch

If you find yourself too worried about your children to enjoy yourself on your adults-only getaway, be sure to make a plan to maintain contact and prepare for emergencies. Feed your nurturing instincts with a brief FaceTime conversation, then get back to your well-deserved respite. Leave your children with a trusted caregiver to ease your mind, and make a plan with them should the worst happen. Worst-case scenario, travel close by so you can rush back in case of an emergency.

Let me paint you a picture: You can wake up whenever you want, have as much wine with dinner as you desire, the choice of what to watch on television can truly be yours and you can sip your coffee while it’s still hot. Oh, to dream the impossible dream!

If you still can’t quite decide to take the leap, do it because I am telling you to—therapist’s orders!

Love your kids and make no apologies for it, but be sure to take some time out to love your partner as well and foster the non-parental aspects of your union.

Fueling that relationship will nourish your soul in such a way that once you return from your trip, you will find yourselves more connected than
ever before.

Kerry Hart, LMFT

Kerry Hart, LLMFT is a couple and family therapist in private practice. She is located in both East Lansing and Grand Rapids.

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