For all the joy our children bring us, sometimes you can get to the point where you are overwhelmed and exhausted, and you need a time out to prevent burn out. It can also be difficult to carve out time to focus on your relationship and spend some quality time as a couple. One way to get some much-needed adult time is to go on a holiday without your children. A few days away relaxing on a beach and drinking cocktails can re-energise your mind and body, not to mention your relationship with your partner. Here are our tips on how to plan ahead and minimise the guilt, well before you even plan that getaway.
Talk yourself into it. It can be so difficult as a parent to consider leaving our little ones, even if we really need a break. Focus on what’s to be gained for your whole family. It’s important as a parent not to lose your identity and to take time for your own interests, and having a rest can be essential for your own mental health. Just remember you are worth investing in, and you will most likely be a more relaxed parent having had some time out.
Talk to your kids. you may be surprised but kids are pretty resilient and often not as unsettled by change as we think they are. Get them used to the idea of you leaving and talk about it often so they are prepared. Sure, the goodbye will be hard, but they will get over it quickly if they have been introduced to the idea well in advance. Your kids may even look forward to some time out themselves, especially if they are staying with the fun babysitter or their Grandparents.
Start with a weekend away and build up from there. It’s a good idea to test the waters and have a few shorter breaks to start with. You won’t want to get onboard an international flight if you are unsettled by a departing meltdown. Go with a practice run.
Travel locally. If even after a few short breaks you are still a bit anxious, there are plenty of gorgeous holiday destinations in Australia that will allow you to feel relaxed and yet still be close enough should you need to race home for any reason. Know yourself and decide what you are comfortable with. Besides, you will be able to sleep in and eat breakfast without having food thrown across the room or kids fighting, it won’t matter so much where you are.
Make fun plans for the kids. Try and stick to their general routine as much as you can while you are away but also organize some treats with their carers. Maybe plan a day at the zoo or buy tickets for them to go to a movie with their friends. This will make them look forward to the ‘break’ too.
Bribes can also help. It never hurts to leave a few new toys for the kids to play with once you’ve left, to distract them away from any separation anxiety.
Practice relaxation. Plan what you will do on your break in order to relax and switch off. This is important as it will help to remove yourself from feelings of guilt. Take your yoga mat or plan a morning at the day spa when you arrive, or simply go for a walk along the beach. Do whatever you need to do to switch off and get into holiday mode as soon as you can.
Sleep as much as you can before and while on your trip. Tiredness will only heighten your anxiety, so do what you need to do to look after yourself and remain well rested.
Distraction. Plan activities for yourself if you need to. Not everyone finds it easy to switch off so have some fun outings planned, and make them things you would not do with your kids. Wine tours, fancy restaurants, snorkeling or paddle boarding or a relaxing cruise. Even go and see a movie together if it’s been a while since you saw a film not targeted at the under 5’s.
Plan bonding time as a family for when you get home. Yes, you are taking the time to invest in yourself and your relationship, but planning some fun activities for your return will give the whole family something to look forward to. It is also an opportunity for the kids to re-connect with you and feel valued as you share the stories about your time apart.