The smell of the saltwater and the warmth of the sun bathes me as I lay stretched out on a beach in Hawaii. With a book in my hand and the ocean lapping at my toes, I've entered into a whole new level of relaxation. When I'm hungry I eat, when I'm tired I nap. Tony is down the beach trying his luck at ocean fishing from the shore.
I exhale deeply as our eyes meet across the sand, knowing we have a romantic dinner on the beach planned for sunset at our favorite beachside restaurant.
This is what it is like to vacation without your children. Webster's defines "vacation" as a break from work and daily responsibilities for enjoyment, rest and relaxation. By "Webster's" I mean my family and I. Though the founders of the Webster dictionary have yet to show up on my family ancestry on 23 and Me, I feel my last name of Webster entitles me to make up words and quote definitions as complete fact.
This year marks my 29th year of parenting. My adult children will be 29, 27 and 21 within a few months. Tony's boys are 12 and 15, and live with us 50% of the time. While raising my now adult children I took more vacations without them than with them. Why you ask? Because it's way more relaxing for one, plus much cheaper. If I want to be aggravated by my children arguing and making messes, I can do that at home for free, thank you very much.
I've taken my kids on trips. Those were vacations for them, not for me. Nothing about a trip with children is relaxing or restful. If you think it is, you are probably the dad in this equation. For many children life outside of school is one big vacation. What do they need to getaway from or for? Their grueling jobs and deadlines? Combative co-workers and soul crushing internet networks that crash, that is until you make a deal with the devil to get things back running again. No, they have none of this, but adults do.
Adults are the ones with the jobs that pay for these vacations. Where does this idea come from that we are obligated to take our kids on vacations? Like most of us, we have a budget to live within. A ticket from the midwest to Hawaii can cost $1K. If we took all three of my kids when they were little to Hawaii, the tickets alone would be 5K. That was not in our budget and doesn't include food and a place to stay. I try to make it home once a year to see my family. I could not do that with three kids as well.
Children need to know they will be okay if there parents aren't there. To pull off a vacation without your kids you do need family who will keep them. If you don't have family in the area, maybe you have another family you can trade with? There are options. Point being, it's good for parents and children to be away from each other. You reunite after being rested, pampered and relaxed, happy to see your offspring. The truth is, sometimes our kids need a break from us as much as we need a break from them.
We took Tony's boys to Hawaii last year for the first time. We had told them that if they show us they can get along, speak respectfully to each other while at home, then we would take them to Hawaii. We put the ball in their court. Through their good behavior they could earn it. It took them 2.5 years, but they were able to finally mature enough to do so, and we took them. It was not a vacation for us, it was a fun trip with our family. One of the boys had appendicitis while there and spent a few days in the hospital. He made a full recovery.
We are all for sharing experiences with our kids and taking them on trips, but we make our own vacations a priority. We are the ones who work to pay for these trips, not the kids. I've never believed that because a person is a child of mine they are entitled to everything I have. What I do believe is that if anyone deserves a vacation it's the parents.
I've been to Hawaii a few time with my adult children, which has been wonderful. They pay their own way and take care of themselves. It's the best of both worlds. In fact, I've probably been on more vacations with my children as adults than I did when they were kids.
Parents work really hard at their jobs, raising kids and maintaining a household. It's grueling work with little very appreciation. Going on vacations only with your kids is like having lunch everyday with your boss. Where is the escape? Pat yourself on the back with a true vacation without your children. It will make you a better parent.
Try it and let us know what happens. If you have done it, share your experience in the comments.