Isn’t it funny how much you love your kids when they’re asleep? They can drive you crazy all day, but as soon as they’re sound asleep you’re tempted to wake them up because you miss them so much. (Surely this isn’t just MY problem!) Sometimes I feel the same way about traveling without my kids. I absolutely can’t wait for a get-away, but before my plane even takes off I’m wishing my kids were in the seats next to me.
I will admit, I usually end up enjoying our childless vacations. It’s refreshing to only worry about myself. From sleeping in, to laying by the pool reading a book, to eating dinner without cleaning up spills or cutting up food, I can’t lie…it’s kind of awesome.
It’s taken years, but I’ve finally found a way to balance these two emotional pulls. Traveling with your kids AND having some childless time on your vacation is absolutely possible. Here are 5 ways I’ve found to have the best of both worlds:
- 1. Travel with Family or Friends: Okay sure, it might sound counter-intuitive. Bring more kids on vacation as a way to have childless time?? Hear me out! I see two main (selfish) benefits to this type of travel. First, it’s built in playmates for your children. If you travel with cousins or friends who are willing to build sandcastles, play games and entertain your children- they are less likely to demand your attention. Additionally, you can trade off child responsibilities with the other adults. My husband and I are more than willing to watch a few extra kids for an afternoon and evening, in exchange for some free time ourselves on another day. I can’t promise that you will return from this kind of trip completely relaxed and rejuvenated, but it’s a great way to travel with your children and also have some down time!
- 2. Travel To People: This is a similar idea to #1; however, instead of traveling WITH friends or family, you travel TO friends or family. This is a great way to have a family vacation with a little get-away built in. We have very generous family members who love to watch our kids while we log some child-less time. For others, we have offered to watch their kids for an amount of time, in exchange for our own time away. Again, like with vacationing with cousins or friends, traveling to those people gives your kids playmates too.
- 3. Bring a Babysitter: Many families enjoy bringing a babysitter along on vacation. A benefit to this is having someone who is familiar with your kids, and their needs and schedules. The drawback to this option is that you’ve got someone else along for 100% of your trip. A lot of families opt to give their babysitter a day or two off on the vacation, but they still need to figure out responsibilities on the other days. Its common for this situation turn into a “too many chiefs” problem. If bringing a babysitter along on a vacation make sure to always establish who is in charge before it turns into an unsafe situation where everyone thinks someone else is watching the children!
- 4. Use a Childcare Service: If you’d asked me a few years ago if I’d ever let a “random” person watch my children in a “strange” location I would have told you “heck no” (actually, that would probably be a rare occasion that I used another word!) But, sometimes, as much as I hate it, things are a little out of your control. If you want ALL the details go back to my post called That’s Crazy. Just to recap- we had to travel to Hawaii with our 4-year old and 4-month old. During our trip we were expected to attend some dinners and adult-only activities with Brent’s company. After a ton of research I decided our best option was to go with a reputable nanny service recommended by our hotel (Happy Kids Maui.) I sent them about a million emails verifying every detail- I’m certain they thought I was crazy! But we had the best experience. Our nanny for the week was incredible and I would not hesitate to use a nanny service in the future.
- 5. Go Places With Kids’ Clubs/Camps: There are tons of resorts and cruise ships with built in childcare. From our experiences, the staff has always been top-notch, the facilities extraordinary and our children literally beg to spend time in those areas. Some of these facilities are built in to the cost of the vacation, while others cost additional. Either way, we see SO much value in having access to this type of childcare. It’s great to be able to drop kids for a few hours of recharging (for us…they usually come back to us exhausted!) We also like the ability to have a kid-free meal or two.
What do you think? Any other suggestions for having the best of both worlds?
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