At the end of the week, I’m embarking on an adults-only vacation to Jamaica with my husband and a group of our college friends. As I write this post, it’s two degrees in Iowa City. I haven’t taken off my thick knitted scarf all day. So yes, I’m definitely looking forward to the trip and am counting down the minutes until I feel the sun again.
However, an adults-only trip means we’re embarking to the sunny Caribbean island without our third Musketeer, our two-year-old daughter. Do I feel guilty? A bit. I know it’s probably something she’d enjoy too, because you don’t have to be an adult in order to enjoy a beach vacation during the middle of a Midwest winter.
Mostly I feel a bit guilty because I’m afraid that as a mom, leaving my child at home to go on a fancy vacation seems selfish and self-indulgent.
I’m afraid people will think it means that I don’t enjoy spending time with my daughter, or that I’m not a very good mother. I am someone that can’t help but worry about what other people think, and I sometimes avoid talking about my trip out of shame. I’m afraid of being judged from afar by people that will see the kid-free Jamaica pictures on my social media.
My husband and I know that judgment is unwarranted, because we’re great and loving parents. Our daughter is loved just as fiercely as any little girl is loved. We’re just both firm believers that taking time for yourself is a good thing, and it doesn’t mean you love your kids any more or less.
I think this weeklong getaway is good for all three Musketeers (me, husband, and toddler) for the following reasons:
1. Grandparent Bonding
My daughter gets to stay with my mom and dad, which I love and she will love, too. She loves Grammy and Papa and their dog, Lucky. I’m thankful that my parents are available and happy to spend time with my baby. I’m so glad I have access to caregivers that I completely trust, because I want her to know that she has a whole support network besides just me and her dad. There are other adults in her life that mommy and daddy trust to take care of her, and she can trust those other adults, too. She has a long list of people that love her and that she can go to for guidance.
2. Relax and Recharge
Life can be stressful, and I think that time spent relaxing and recharging will ultimately make me a better parent. Modern adult life is so busy, and no matter what our role is at home or at work, we all deserve a break! In Arianna Huffington’s book The Sleep Revolution, she writes, “According to Dr. William Dement, the founder of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic (the first of its kind), working mothers who have young children at home have seen an additional 241 hours of work and commuting time added to their lives annually since 1969.” Let’s please recharge from that burden!
3. Marriage Boost
I think that having couple time keeps my relationship with my husband strong, which is ultimately best for everyone in the family. I hope to maintain a strong and reliable family unit for my daughter. My husband and I were together for more than five years before we welcomed our little girl, and sometimes it’s nice to revisit those former versions of ourselves and enjoy the relationship we have with each other.
4. Kid-Free Flight
A long flight with our two-year-old daughter would be a nightmare. At her age and with her specific personality (she’s both assertive and impatient), the travel would be more stress than it’s worth for the three of us. I would love to encourage a love of travel in my daughter, but I’d like to save the long flight for when I know she can handle it.
5. The Time Is Now
Right now my husband and I are both working full time and have just one child, so if there’s a time in our lives where we can afford a nice trip and have time to take off, it’s probably now. I’d regret it if I didn’t go.
6. Uninterrupted Social Time
Though I’m a mom, I still enjoy social time with my friends. There are some activities that are just hard to do with kids around. It will be nice to recharge, relax, and enjoy myself without the interruption of a toddler.
When we get home from Jamaica, we’ll be so happy to see our daughter that we’ll probably smother her in hugs and kisses for a week straight. We’ll want to spend our free time doing fun activities with her that we know she’ll enjoy, like go to the Iowa Children’s Museum or maybe the indoor pool.
In a few years we would love to take a trip to Disneyworld or somewhere our daughter will appreciate, and we’ll have a great time together and make some wonderful family memories. This summer we did a road trip to South Dakota with my husband’s family, and it was so fun to bring our daughter to Mount Rushmore, on picturesque hikes, and to national parks where she could see the natural wildlife. I hope to instill a love of travel and adventure in her, and I think we already started.
I believe there are many different types of vacations–family vacations, girls-only vacations, couples vacations–and each have their own specific purpose and benefits. As much as I loved the family road trip with our daughter because we could make lasting family memories and let her experience adventure, I’m looking forward to the kid-free trip to Jamaica for the benefits only that type of vacation can bring, like relaxing and reading on the beach of a Jamaican resort with my friends, daiquiri in hand!