I recently watched a comedy skit where a weary dad of two explained the difference between a vacation before kids and a vacation after kids. He said before kids, a decent vacation involved a week in Hawaii, and after kids, his idea of a vacation was much different, with a roaring audience applauding at the punchline,”My wife and I feel like we’re in the Bahamas when we get to shop at the grocery store alone for an hour!” Amen to that!
Parenting is plenty rewarding and I’m grateful for the opportunity to raise three kids every day, but that doesn’t mean it’s not tiring, draining and without much external validation other than our hopes that someday these me-centric little humans will grow up to be productive members of society. The upside to all this though is that we don’t need much to propel us forward and give us a recharge, and we’ve become conditioned to appreciate and be grateful for even the smallest of breaks. I joke with my husband that a spa day will keep me going for six months and a solo trip to Target will keep me going for at least a week. When you’re a parent, it really is all about the little things, and it doesn’t take much to make us happy. Here’s a few other ways I feel like I’ve scored my own vacation, now that I have kids.
1. A solo trip to run errands and shop at [insert favorite store here]
Last weekend I woke up early and went to yoga before everyone got up and then shopped at Trader Joe’s for an hour all by myself. I posted a picture that I was living the mom dream right there, and fellow parents couldn’t agree more. For me, anytime I have the opportunity to run my errands and/or take a shopping trip to my favorite store without kids feels like I’m winning at life. No hassling with car seat buckles and fighting/pleading with a grumpy toddler to get in his seat, no begging for every single junk item and sugary cereal the store has to offer, no broken back from carrying around a toddler who refuses to be contained in the grocery cart. The list goes on and on. Some nights after the kids go to bed, I kiss my husband goodbye, visit my local coffee shop for a decaf latte to go, and aimlessly browse the aisles of Target.
2. Dodging the bedtime routine
Every few weeks we beg and awkwardly plead with a grandparent or even pay someone to come watch our children at night so they can perform the bedtime duties for us. Bedtime with a baby is usually all about “the routine,” sweet and special, involving a little bath time and story time, maybe a last feeding, and some gentle swaying in the rocking chair. By the time those kids of ours can speak and walk though, bedtime turns into a whirlwind of chaos and tired frenzy. After a long day of running after a toddler, helping with homework, and cooking dinner, ditching out on the bedtime “routine” for older kids is the biggest gift I could receive. My husband and I usually skip out of the house.
3. Brunch with your significant other — sans kids
So there’s date night, and that’s really good and healthy for the relationship. But let’s be frank for a moment; often by the time date night rolls around, you and your partner aren’t always at your best. You’re tired and maybe even cranky and stressed out from a grueling day at work or home with the kids. You make it work and you’re thankful for time away, especially if it involves avoiding the bedtime routine, but you can’t stay up too late since you’ll be up early with the kids the next day. But a brunch or lunch date is truly where it’s at. Late in the morning or midday, you’re at the top of your game. Your clothes are clean, your makeup is on, your partner still smells good — free of baby spit up, and your energy levels aren’t close to crashing. And then there’s a little midday cocktail action which may occur, which always feels ridiculously extravagant once you become a parent. A midday date with my husband is worth its weight in gold and always sustains us for at least a month.
4. Enjoying pool time
No matter how old your kids are or how good of swimmers they are, pools and kids always mean that mom and dad are at full attention, no relaxing on the job there. But to enjoy a pool setting without my kids in the water instantly transports me into vacation mode, and all I want to do is sip on a piña colada, read a magazine, and fall asleep. I never appreciated my sunbathing sessions before I had kids, but now that I have them, one hour spent at the pool without them feels like an extravagant reward.
5. Being a kid at an amusement park — without the kids
We’re lucky to live so close to two great theme parks and as pass-holders to Disneyland, we visit the happiest place on earth fairly regularly. Visiting an amusement park with three kids in tow isn’t always the happiest experience; it can be stressful and tiring. But visiting an amusement park every once in a while without the kids does wonders for your happiness and relationship. Being able to ditch the cloak of responsibility and worrying about leading by example, we eat what we want, ride what we want, and have an all-around good time acting like kids, or just acting like ourselves, before we had kids. It’s always a blast and a great way to recharge our parenting batteries.
What are some things you do that help you feel like you’ve just had a mini-vacation now that you’re a parent? Do any of my faux-vacation experiences make your list, too?
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