I love my kids with all of my being, and sometimes I need to escape from them.
This past week between Christmas and New Year’s, Mike, one of my best friends in the world, got married. We both grew up in Northern Virginia, but he lives in Colorado now. His parents had moved to Florida, so Mike and his now-wife decided to get married in West Palm Beach–because if you are going to ask folks to fly out to a wedding in December it definitely helps it to have it someplace warm.
The bride and groom were gracious enough to invite our children along, but we declined. I was part of the wedding party, and that would have left my wife Kat on babysitting duty the entire time.1 We would’ve had to leave events early to accommodate the girls’ bedtimes, and one of us would be anchored in a hotel room while they slept. And flying four humans is twice as expensive than flying two humans. So, Kat and I left the kids behind with their grandparents.
We’ve done this before with success. Right before our youngest was born, Kat and I took a “babymoon” together. We’ve also gone to a music festival without the girls. The grandparents love2 having the girls for an extended period of time, and the girls love it too. It’s good for them to experience having to adapt to different grown-ups being in charge of them. We anticipated the girls and the grandparents having little problem.
And with things like text messages and FaceTime, we were always accessible. If they had a quick question about something, a text exchange back and forth solved it. If we were overly missed, we could video chat. But while we did take advantage of it a few times, mostly the grandparents kept the kids busy and happy, and we spent our time apart actually apart.
After returning from the wedding and getting our girls home, there was a burst of energy in the household. Things were cleaned. Closets organized. Furniture moved. Having a little break from the kids broke the routine just enough to overcome the inertia behind some tasks that had been in my queue seemingly forever. It felt great.
But the break in the routine was not all sunshine and roses. It took a few days for sleep schedules to return to baseline, and for behavioral standards to adjust from “grandma”-levels to normal levels.3 The youngest also came back with a fever that had her in bed for several days, but with the cutest hoarseness in her voice, so it wasn’t all bad.
The trip was incredibly nice, but I don’t want all of my vacation time to be away from the girls–I like them. I have in my head that our little family should do things together as a little family, so I feel a twitch of guilt4 leaving my girls behind while I cruise around Florida in a convertible Mustang with their mother.
The key for me, as in all things, is finding the right balance. As a family, we’ll go to the beach for a week with the neighbors we love. As a couple, Kat and I will go to a grown-up wedding.5 Keeping both in the mix should be healthy right?
I don’t think I would have contemplated an airplane trip sans children without the wedding being the prompt. It’s hard enough to keep up with the simple things like going out to dinner together, when I spend the majority of my brain power thinking of ways to amuse, placate, and love tiny humans. I’d love to take more trips away with Kat, but planning things is hard. Maybe shorter weekends away are more doable. Either way, I want keep the “the getaway” on my radar. Where do other parents go when they want a break?
Photo by: Global Jet
- As it turned out, Kat and I spent a good deal of time apart anyway as I had to do groomsmanly things, but that time was hers to spend. ↩
- At least, they claim to love. ↩
- Not that the grandparents were lax in behavioral standards, just that they were different. ↩
- Okay, a ton of guilt. ↩
- That is to say, a wedding with activities primarily geared toward grown-ups, not to imply we would attend a wedding of non-grown-ups. ↩