When my daughter was younger, summer “vacation” simply meant ‘time to fill while school wasn’t in session’ or ‘parenting in a different location’. Now that she is older (nine years to be exact), that definition has shifted in the best way possible for, dare I say, all of us? Our little independent kid doesn’t need us hour to hour or day to day like she used to which definitely has its perks! So this year, my family and I decided to take advantage of a little post-pandemic “revenge travel.”
What is revenge travel? According to industry experts, although there isn’t a formal definition, revenge travel is an increase in people wanting to travel to make up for experiences and time they lost during the pandemic. It’s a way to show that travelers are over COVID and are finding joy through travel again. We traditionally go to Maine together each year to visit family. However this summer, my husband and I also decided to leave our daughter behind with her willing grandparents for an additional few weeks so we could take advantage of the strong dollar-to-euro ratio and visit Croatia and Greece.
Being able to focus fully on the travel experience itself and not caring for a small child actually taught me some valuable lessons as a parent. I ran my initial thoughts by Boca Raton therapist Lori Lundin-Fish, PhD, LMFT of Palm Beach Therapy Center, and we wanted to share these lessons to encourage you to schedule a kid-free vacation this year or know that it can happen a little more easily down the road! We promise!
Leaving Your Kids Does Not Make You a Bad Parent
While I do consider myself a super-mom from time to time, I also know that I am human. Mom and dad get tired, especially after the last two years we’ve had! It’s important to recognize that breaks are needed from the exhausting day-to-day decisions we have to make in life (and work) that only a good vacation can provide.
You don’t have to go all the way to Europe to make it happen either. Call in a favor with a friend or trusted family member and see if you can schedule childcare for a long weekend away to recharge! We are always happy to reciprocate to save on our babysitting budget.
Dr. Lori adds: “Self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity! It is incredibly important to prioritize proper self-care and self-compassion, especially in this modern world with never ending to-do lists and responsibilities. Parents often struggle in giving themselves permission to step away from their routines and their children due to feelings of fear or guilt. But, it is certainly possible to be an amazing parent while still taking time away to provide love and care for yourself. In fact, in taking care of yourself as a parent and attending to your personal needs, you are simultaneously caring for your child as well. Your child needs you as their parent to be happy, positive and present. When you are able to properly care for yourself, you are able to provide your child with a healthy and capable mom and dad.”
Take a Trip Back in Time with Your Partner
Not only did my husband and I take a trip abroad this summer, but we also managed to travel back in time…to the way we were pre-kids. Carefree. Few responsibilities. Able to sleep in! We still checked in with our daughter daily via FaceTime, but I can’t think of a better or more focused way to rekindle your adult relationship.
Dr. Lori adds: “Parents often tend to focus their full attention toward providing for their children. Unfortunately for many couples, this may create feelings of sadness and rejection within their romantic relationships and marriages,” said Dr. Lori. “It is important to remember to provide that same level of care and attention to your relationship as well in order to create a strong and cohesive family system. I often tell my couples that their relationship is an independent ‘entity’ that needs to be nurtured and cared for just as you would care for your child. As each individual is unique, each relationship is unique as well and may change over time. Sometimes couples need time away in order to ‘date’ again and ‘get to know one another’ without any distractions. Inviting quality time by planning trips or date-nights is a great way to prioritize your partner and strengthen your bond together. When your relationship with your partner is strong and positive, this too contributes to the healthy environment that your child is raised in.”
Parenting is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
While I’m on summer vacation, my mind is able to wander… I get to dream (and sleep!) a little bit more than usual which allows me to think creatively about the school year ahead. When I finally get home, my mommy mental batteries are re-charged and all of the day-to-day just feels a bit easier…for a while at least. After all, parenting is a marathon, not a sprint.
Upon returning home, try to ease your re-entry as much as possible. Jet lag is not fun. Schedule a meal service for the week and have your house professionally cleaned while you’re away so you feel like you’re coming back to calm, not chaos. You deserve it!
Dr. Lori adds: “Remember, in caring for yourself, you are simultaneously caring for your family and your child. Taking time off to ‘recharge’ is the best way to prevent burnout and often helps generate better levels of productivity. In returning home, keep in mind there is never any rush. In accepting that perfection does not exist, we allow ourselves the opportunity to be vulnerable and honest within ourselves. This includes giving ourselves permission to take our time and move at a pace that is comfortable. If you are feeling tired, own it—there is nothing wrong with being tired after a long trip. In fact, it is normal. It is important to continue to practice proper self-care every day (not just on vacation). Ease back into your routine and be gentle with yourself during this transition. Remember to have confidence that many things often tend to work out naturally.”
Michelle Olson-Rogers is a mom of one and the founder of Modern Boca Mom, an award-winning lifestyle website for the stylish & modern South Florida Mommy. She can also be found on Instagram at @modernbocamom.