Written By: Alexandra Howard
For most of my life, I have aspired to be a ‘yes’ person. If there was one proverbial mantra that I could call a favourite, it would be, “take the trip, buy the shoes, eat the cake.” As a prescriptive affirmation for personal satisfaction, the ‘seize the opportunity’ mindset emphasizes the fact that life is short and inherently, that you are worth it. Unfortunately, social edicts can make it difficult to put theory into practice: dictum's like save your money, buy the house, and don’t eat the cake weigh heavily on our minds. The internal tug-of-war is real. Then all of a sudden, mom buns takeover and you’re having Goldfish for dinner in your Lulus while your husband lays on the couch yelling at the TV. What happened?
Truth be told, there are few relationships more important than that with yourself and that with your partner. It is no secret that a vacation, be it big or small, can feed the soul and recharge your emotional battery. I don’t want to get too cheerleader/Rachel Hollis/Be your best selfish, but I am a fierce advocate for the parent getaway. When our son was three, my husband and I travelled sans child to Cuba. Not yet married, he and I were at a critical juncture in our relationship, stuck at a crossroad somewhere between rediscovering who we were as a couple and playing house. Overwhelmed by guilt, I had put a plan in place to ease the maternal separation anxiety: I wrote out detailed schedule instructions for the Grandparents and a little note to be read to him each morning. In retrospect, that getaway was as important for our son as it was for us: Mom and Dad go away, then they return. A simple yet powerful exercise in trust. While the trip itself was far from pivotal, it did set a new precedent and reminded us of one profoundly important fact: we had fun together, and lots of it.
Of course, opinions on travelling without children are as varied as the day is long. I have shared that tale of travel in mom circles and caught the disapproving eye (“you left him at how old?”). On one hand, there is the “I could never leave my kids”- mom (slow clap) and even the, “let’s get on a plane to Cabo and never look back”- mom (totally get it). Depending on the day, I can identify with both and believe that they and everyone in between are entitled to their feelings. A close friend shared that she travelled to Europe for a friends’ wedding without her 8 month-old and, mom guilt aside, ended up having the time of her life: the baby was perfectly fine and she returned rejuvenated. The reality is that the day-to-day of playing house can often lead to simple co-existence with your partner, potentially setting the groundwork for unravelling. Whether you schedule a budget-friendly mini getaway or splurge on a romantic beach vacation, prioritizing you and your partner is a gift to your family.
Let me be clear that I am in no way undervaluing how wonderful it is to travel with your children. With the exception of tent camping with an infant (take it from me-don’t do it), a vacation with the whole family is full of warm and fuzzies on a whole other level. And if you like lugging a carseat through the airport better than all-day Coronas with your partner at a swim-up bar, then maybe a night at the Holiday Inn is more your current pace. Enter 21st century buzz word: balance.
Most date nights, the conversation usually centres around our children. I have read that this is a common fallback topic frowned upon by couples’ counsellors but in my view, our reality is raising two little humans. The time will come when our extended alone time will be enriched by the memories of these days. And while I rarely eat the cake nor do I have much use for a fabulous shoe collection, I hope to always take the trip.