As parents, we all have days when we want to scream, “I need a vacation!”
The responsibilities and mundane details of raising a family can sometimes be overwhelming and extremely stressful.
Stressful times call for a vacation or, at the very least, a nice evening out.
Adults benefit from time away from their brood. Just because you are a parent doesn’t mean that you can’t be an independent person and have a life of your own. Many moms agree that having time away makes them better able to cope with the demands of being a mom when they return. Often times knowing you have a trip or an evening out planned gives you something to look forward to, and that can help you get through a stressful day.
University School’s licensed school psychologist David Krasky says, “As important as it is for families to have meaningful family time, it is just as important for couples to have meaningful couple time. When parents feel emotionally connected and supportive to one another, they will be better parents. If it were up to me, every couple with children would have one ‘date night’ per week. If money is an issue, you can always just go for a walk, go to a friend’s house or drive and talk.”
Getting away for some well-deserved time alone with your husband or girlfriends, without feeling your body weight in mommy guilt, is possible if you keep the following points in mind to help you make a guilt-free getaway.
Make preparations for your caregivers. As moms, we like to know that our children are eating all the right things, even when we’re not with them. Prepare a few meals ahead of time so that the caregiver can easily serve dinner the way you would. Susie Bond, mother of two children, ages seven and four, always makes sure the kitchen is well-stocked and prepares several meals her children love. She says, “Making food ahead of time makes it so much easier for the caregiver. And, I hope, if it’s easier for the caregiver, then she’ll come back and stay with the kids again!”
Think about the what-ifs ahead of time. Preparations don’t end with meals. Bond shares that she takes the time to create lists of the children’s schedules, what foods they like to eat and details of bedtime routines. For an extended time away, she says, “I also make sure to leave authorization for medical treatment and our insurance card.” She says making sure that she and her husband created a Will to have in place helps her to know that she’s done everything she can to prepare for their time away. “It is a lot of work to prepare like this, but I feel so much better knowing I’ve taken care of everything,” she said.
Phone home wisely. If you’re going on an overnight trip or longer, it’s tempting to call home to talk to the children. Jennifer Jones, mother of a four-year-old, says, “When my son was a baby, I called every day to find out how he was doing. Now that he’s older, I call every couple of days and talk to him. I try to call when he’s busy, happy and involved in other things so he doesn’t think about it too much. I avoid calling at bedtime.” Bond has a different policy of calling daily to speak with the caregiver, but only speaking to the children one time during the entire trip. Krasky says, “Every child is different, and some children are more sensitive to their parents being away.” He adds, “A good rule of thumb is to trust your instincts as a parent. Nobody knows your child better than you.”
Time away is a special gift to your children and yourself. When parents spend time away from their children, whether by traveling or just getting out for the evening, Krasky points out that, “It gives children the opportunity to gain independence, practice problem-solving skills and develop or improve coping skills.” This is a time that also gives some children the opportunity to accept more responsibilities, like brushing teeth without a reminder, finishing homework on their own or taking care of a younger sibling.
Remember, you deserve all the good things you wish for your kids. In order to be happy, kids need to see you happy, too. Giving yourself time away to be your own person and experiencing new things can help you return feeling refreshed, relaxed and ready for action.
Jennifer is a mother of three. She loves traveling with her husband, taking annual girlfriend trips and always has a bag packed.
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