As a family travel writer who loves to travel with my whole crew, I’m writing this in the Chicago airport waiting for a flight to Ireland – all. by. myself. No kids, no bathroom breaks with three little ones in tow, no making sure everyone is fed before a long red eye. But man do I miss those little rascals already.
(My husband is on another flight and we will meet up in Dublin, Ireland before heading through Ireland together and then I will be on my own for a work project – which initiated the trip.)
I’m certainly not a natural at this maternal separation thing, but I am a firm believer that parents should travel WITHOUT their kids every once in awhile too. We travel without the kids on average about once a year – and, honestly, I’m always a bit of a wreck leading up to the trips…but I’m also always so grateful that we do it. It nurtures our marriage, fuels my own creativity and allows the kids to utilize some independence and watch their mom utilize hers too!
We are lucky – my mom and my in-laws take turns coming to town to watch the girls when we go away. And, this certainly eases my anxieties substantially. Today – as I miss my crew terribly but also sip a glass of wine all alone – I’m sharing 5 ways I handle travel without my kids:
You don’t have to take a trip abroad, across the country or even a couple hours away at first – try getting a hotel in your own city for a romantic stay-cation or head out to the woods for a mom and dad camping trip. We like to add a day or more at the beginning or end of a work trip too. If you don’t have easy access to grandparents, try a trusted friend or a loyal babysitter for the night.
2. Leave your kids with someone they’re comfortable with
Again, we are super lucky that we have grandparents who love to hang with our kids – plus they live far away so I think they enjoy coming into town to spend extra one-on-one time with their grandkids. I’ve also learned over the years that this is a gift to their grandparents. It allows them to develop and nurture their own beautiful relationships with extended family or good friends.
3. Talk about your trip
Talk to your kids about where you are going and what you will see. Tell them you can’t wait to share stories and pictures with them when you return.
4. Bring them something back
Similarly, bring them something back – I love finding unique, thoughtful and sometimes educational gifts for my girls on a trip. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive – just something to help them realize that you were thinking about them and also prompt some fun conversations about your trip.
5. Plan some bonding time when you get back
When I return from this trip, my girls will be on Fall Break which is perfect because it means lots of time together after missing them terribly. (I’m sure after the break, I’ll be ready for another kid-free trip!) But try to plan a family dinner or some other special time with them when you get back to soothe any post trip anxiety – extra cuddles are always on my list too.
Some bonus tips while your traveling without the kids:
- I recommend that you DO NOT call home. I know this sounds counterintuitive – but when you hear each other’s voices, things tend to fall apart – believe me, I know this from experience. The first time we traveled without the kids and called home, my mother-in-law asked us not to call anymore, lol. The kids were doing great until they heard my voice. I was a wreck when I hung up too. Send lots of pictures and texts, but if you can stand it, try not to call.
- Enjoy your spouse – talk about everything, take walks, read books, sleep in and just enjoy being with each other and remembering why you got married! My husband and I always remember how great we travel together and how much we love being together when we take trips alone.
Have you ever traveled without your kids? How did it go?