Recently my husband and I decided it was time for a much-needed vacation. We love taking our children to explore new places but for the first time in seven years, we were ready to hand over the kids and do something for ourselves. As we went through the motions I quickly realized that there are 5 very clear stages of preparing for a vacation without kids.
Stage 1: Planning and Contemplation
You’ve decided you’re going to take some time alone with your spouse. The stars have finally aligned and you somehow have time and childcare. It’s been years and you have trusted adults willing to watch your children.
First of all, you’re going to contemplate how long you should go. Is a 14-day cruise too long? Maybe. Our kids wouldn’t miss us that much and we deserve some time alone. Then you come to your senses and realize maybe 14 days is too long. Who has that much time off work anyways? So you look at a 5-7 day trip, you find a destination and secure the dates.
Stage 2: Peace Out Munchkins
You book the trip for as many days as you decided reasonable and think to yourself, peace out munchkins! Mamas getting a tan in silence! You are stoked! You tell everyone you know about your amazing plans and imagine all of the things you’ll wear that don’t scream I just wiped someone’s butt for the third time today.
Stage 3: The Prep
Now you have to wait for the said trip to come around. There is a countdown on the calendar and this is basically what will get you through the day. Or at least until 5’oclock. You start working out and eating healthy. You are going to be the best version of you on this much deserved time away.
Then you realize you have to start prepping the people watching your children. This is a process in itself. You have a spreadsheet with all of your children’s activities complete with addresses and how long it takes to drive them around like a personal chauffeur, I mean mom, all day. Every doctor, hospital and emergency contact is on the list just in case. I may have even included how to take care of my daughter’s hair properly. No shame in my mom game and curly girls might even back me up on this. You can go from 0 to frizz with one wrong wash!
Stage 4: The Freak Out
You are less than a week out from your long awaited trip and you think to yourself, I have made a terrible mistake. How are my children going to survive for a week without me? Will they wear mix-matched shoes every day? Will they get to school on time? And for the love of God will they even eat vegetables?
You call your husband. We should shorten the trip to a weekend or better yet let’s just cancel. We will have plenty of time in fifteen years once they graduate. You feel your husband roll his eyes through the phone and he talks you off the ledge. You’re still going.
Stage 5: Departure and Arrival
This is the part where you put your shades on and roll out. Not because you are cool (those days are long gone) but because you are going to cry. The tears will start as soon as the first goodbye mommy rolls off your child’s tongue. You leave and 5 minutes later grandma sends you a picture of your child smiling with a lollipop in hand. Your kids are going to be fine. Also, you should probably schedule a dentist appointment for them when you get back.
Once you land in paradise you can hardly believe how much time you are going to have to yourself. There are Facetime sessions and phone calls with the kids but finally, you are free and enjoying every minute to yourselves. Then one day you wake up and it’s time to leave. How does that always happen? The end of the trip always comes too soon. On one hand, you are having the time of your life and on the other, you miss your kids and can’t wait to squeeze them. At the end of the day going on vacation without our kids was something that I hope we continue to do. We needed it more than we knew and who knows, maybe it will become easier each time.