Once you have kids, your vacations automatically turn into family ones and even the thought about how nice it would be to leave your kids behind just once to enjoy a trip with your significant other (or alone!) makes you feel extremely guilty. It goes without saying that visiting different places, going through new experiences and sharing your joy with kids is one of the best ways to spend a vacation. However, each parent deserves an opportunity to take a break from his responsibilities and spend at least a few days away from a hectic house.
But, as we finally decide to go on a child-free vacation to enjoy quality time with our spouses or friends, we instantly start worrying about how our children will handle the separation. Who will take care of them? What if they get sick? What if they get into a terrible incident? What if I will miss them too much and won’t enjoy the vacation? The guilt often holds us back, the initial intention to prioritize ourselves just for a week for the sake of the family’s health disappears and we either cancel the trip or book tickets for kids as well.
But what about reconnecting with your partner? Going to places without worrying about the logistics and coming back home being a stronger, healthier parent? Letting your kids learn to adjust to different situations and grow up a bit without constant parental supervision? That’s what child-free vacations are for. And while you definitely need to spend most of your family’s vacationing budget on trips with kids, a certain portion of it should be saved for adult-only traveling. There’re certain things you need to do to prepare your kids for your absence, as well as make sure that the guilt and constant worrying doesn’t ruin your trip. Here’re a few tips you may use when planning a child-free vacation.
Tips for vacationing without children
1. Decide who’s going to watch your kids
Obviously, having a family member over to watch your kids while you’re on a vacation is an ideal option. Unfortunately, it’s not possible for everyone. If the grandparents, aunts, cousins and other relatives aren’t available during that period of time, you will have to hire a full-time babysitter. You need to find a trustworthy professional and make sure that your kids are comfortable with him/her before leaving.
Preferably, you should ask your current nanny if she is available to take up such a responsibility. However, if that’s not an option as well, find a new babysitter, who will be able to stay overnight for a few days in a row, in advance and conduct a couple of ‘test runs’ – ask a new nanny to come over while you’re still at home and watch your kids for a few days under your supervision. This way, once the vacation time comes around, your kids will get to know their new nanny and won’t feel so sad when watching you leave.
The main idea is that your kids have to feel safe with the caregiver and have fun with her while you’re on a vacation. And, for the sake of your own comfort, ask a family member or a friend to come over in the evening to see how your kids behave and if everything is Ok with them.
2. Provide your caregivers with an informational packet
Different situations may happen during your vacation. The chance of an incident is minimal, but you need to make sure that the caregiver has everything she might need to handle it. Furthermore, you need to provide your caregiver with a notarized medical release form, detailed information about each child and things she has to know about your household. The info binder you have to handle her before leaving on a child-free vacation should include:
3. Stock up on groceries and other necessities
Before you head out on a vacation, make sure to shop for groceries (plan for babysitter’s meals as well) and things your kids need on a daily basis – diapers, wipes, medicine, personal hygiene stuff, etc. Buy more than enough so that your babysitter doesn’t have to run errands while watching your little ones. With that being said, don’t forget to leave some cash for groceries and entertainment.
4. Prepare your kids for your absence and stay connected while being away
Tell your kids about your vacation in advance and explain them the plan for their stay not to turn your departure into a traumatizing experience. Remind them about it every so often, but don’t go into much detail not to make them feel jealous or abandoned.
While being on a vacation, call your kids every evening to share your experiences, ask about their day and promise to come back in a few days.
5. Think about fun activities for your children
You won’t feel as incredibly when having fun on a vacation if you know that your kids are being entertained as well. You don’t have to come up with crazy adventures and spend a lot of money on kid’s entertainment – just think about different little things that will bring your kids joy and distract them from your absence.
Arrange their stay with caregiver the way that they feel like they are on a parent-free vacation – ask the nanny to take them to water parks, dance classes, sports lessons, movies, play dates with friends, to get ice-cream, etc. Plan various things they can do at home – crafts, paddling pool activities, fun projects they have to complete by the time you come home.
Make your children feel loved by leaving a card with a cute note for each day of your vacation and ask a babysitter to give it away first thing in the morning or put them in a mailbox to let them discover the note on their own.