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Monday, July 8, 2013

Traveling without Kids

Zach and I travel a good bit without our kids. I know that this fact is probably THE biggest thing other moms judge me about. Most moms I know rarely leave their children over night. And couldn't imagine traveling as often as we do without their little ones. I know it's mind boggling for many moms to imagine doing and I get that. Just because we travel often, doesn't make it any easier for me to leave my babies. It's hard. Every single time!

While I understand how other moms may judge me for our traveling, I don't have any plans on changing it either. I think it's important for our marriage (I talked more about this in my post about being a godly wife here!). Being at home it's tough to make time for each other. And even date nights are so short that we can't fully "let go" of all the stresses of life. When we travel and get away together it REALLY gives us a chance to connect. 

Every time we go on vacation just the two of us we are able to put aside all the work worries, financial concerns, parenting sagas, and other dramas we may be dealing with in "real life." We're able to RELAX! I love Zach all the time, but when we are away together I am able to REALLY look at him. So often at home we pass each other in the hall and may take a quick glance at each other, but don't really take the time to look at one another. It can easily start to feel like we're roommates! Taking that time to reconnect is huge for us. 

I've seen other couples on trips who both look bored or who seek out other couples to hang out with because they can't handle being solo with their spouse for an extended period of time. Zach and I, thankfully, aren't like that. Being away from the rushes of daily life gives us a chance to talk on a deeper level, reminisce about our pasts, laugh and be carefree. It takes us back to the days where we were dating and everything was new and exciting together. It also allows us to reconnect physically in a way you just can't do at home (I mean let's be real...at home what woman doesn't have a hard time not thinking of all the things she "should" be doing while being intimate?). 

Zach and I are blessed to have ALL of the "big items" in common. Religion, financial views, opinions about how we want to raise our kids, our goals for our lives, etc. Our marriage problems are pretty much all based on small issues. Stupid, dumb, petty fights that pop up from time to time. Getting away from "real life" and letting go of all the small things helps us to remember that we not only love each other, but we really like each other too :) I know all marriages are different and couples find ways to stay connected to each other and, for us, traveling without our kids is one of the top ways we keep our marriage bond strong!


I also think since I stay at home with my kids, that traveling without them is important for ME as well as for THEM. You know the saying "absence makes the heart grow fonder"? Well, I think that's true! A little break is healthy and it allows me to come home refreshed, rejuvenated and recharged as a mama. And it gives my kids a chance to spend quality time with other family members and make memories that don't always involve Mommy (plus, hello, they get SPOILED!!!). I know Mrs. Charlotte often tells me she loves getting to keep them for extended time periods when we are traveling because she and Mr. Rusty get to soak them in and enjoy them in a way they can't just from family functions. 

Even though I KNOW all the benefits of traveling without my babies, it doesn't make it any easier on me. As they get older, it only gets tougher. Our first time traveling as parents was when Kye was only 7 weeks old and Zach and I went to Paris. Honestly, it was HARD but the hardness of it was b/c I wasn't fully back to normal non-hormonal Emily yet and I had to pump like a crazy person the whole time. It wasn't really hard to leave Kye. I mean he was SO little and I KNEW he had NO CLUE that I was leaving. As he's gotten older it's been much more difficult to leave him (and Britt too!). My heart ACHES for my babies and I have to mentally try not to focus on it or it can mess up our trip. 

Italy was the longest trip I've ever been away from them. It was NINE days. OMG. I was DYING. But do I regret going for that long? No. Would I do it again? Yes! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and even though I missed them like crazy, I rationally KNEW that I needed to enjoy my chance to see Italy and that in the long run it would NOT affect their lives at all that I was away!

The #1 piece of advice I give to mamas who ask me about traveling without their kids is to remember that the memories YOU make with your husband (or friends or whoever you may be traveling with) are IMPORTANT. And that in the grand scheme of things the days you are gone will not matter to your children. They may miss you some but that's okay! They will be FINE and they will not ever look back and think "I can't believe my mommy was gone" but YOU will look back and have such great memories of your trip!!! 

For me personally I think the biggest effect having kids has had on my traveling has been my flying fears. I was NEVER afraid to fly but the more kids we have and the older they get the worse my flying anxiety gets. On the flight home from Italy I LITERALLY spent the entire time in prayer and was freaking out. I've heard from other parents that this is a common issue and that many couples will fly on separate flights to help ease the anxiety. It does make sense that maybe my fears is that if the plane crashes my kids would lose us both??? If you have flying issues I highly recommend placing a call in to your doctor! I did that recently and now take 1/2 a Xanax before flying. Helps BIG TIME :)

Zach and I travel without the kids two times a year for sure (our anniversary over Memorial Day and our little Christmas together in December). Depending on the Aflac trips Zach earns we may travel solo up to 5 times a year as there are trips in April, August, and October. Lately we haven't been making those trips or have opted not to travel on them (Vegas? No thanks. Cruises? Ehh not interested). We are SO blessed to do so much traveling!!!

On our recent trip to Cozumel for our Anniversary (post to come) Kye was upset about us leaving. He's four now and we have gone on TONS of trips without him during his life and this is the FIRST time he's ever had any type of issues. We have some other personal stuff going on that Kye has been dealing with and it's been tough on him and his little mind to grasp why people we love leave and he was worried he wouldn't get to see us again. It broke my heart and made it even tougher for us to go! I put some plans into action for him and they REALLY helped. G-Mama had some fun things planned at her house so I made sure to have her tell Kye all about it. He loves plans (comes by it honest!) and that made him excited for his and Britt's little "vacation" too :)

Here are some others things I did with Kye to help prepare him for our trip while we were away:

Calendar: I made a simple little countdown for the kids to help them visualize when we would be home. I gave them stickers for each of them to put on the calendar every night before bed! Kids love stickers so this was something Kye was excited about (and Britt was able to participate in too!)
De-dough: I slept with De-dough (I know, dumb name haha) as a child and really slept with him until Zach and I got married. Confession: I still pull him out to cuddle when I'm crying or when Zach is gone and I'm scared ;) Anyways. I pulled him out and told Kye that he could have the special job of taking care of De-dough for me while I was gone. He took it SUPER seriously. Mrs. Charlotte told me that while we were on our trip Kye did one time say he needed to go spend some alone time with De-Dough and that she overheard him in his room telling De-Dough not to be sad and that Mommy would be home soon :) 
Picture for Mommy: I let the kids know that I will miss them too! I am allll about honesty and talked to them about how it's important for Mommy and Daddy to get alone time together because we love each other and talked about how Kye and I go on "dates" sometimes and how fun they are. And that Mommy and Daddy need "date time" too. I told them I will miss them and that I wanted a special picture to take with me on the trip. They both colored a picture for me and I did take them with me and loved having that little reminder of my sweet babies waiting for me back home!

Book: Before Zach and I went to Hawaii we invested in a read-along Storybook from Hallmark. We bought the one titled Guess How Much I Love You and we took turns reading every other page out loud. We never use the book and that makes it extra special then we when travel we pack it for the kids to have to "read" whenever they miss us! 
Videos: I also remember as a kid my parents traveling and making videos of themselves reading our favorite books to us. Zach and I made videos for Kye. We each read a book and then I put them on Youtube and email the videos to Mrs. Charlotte before we leave on a trip so they can watch them as needed. Ignore my hugely pregnant tummy haha we really need to make some new ones before our next trip! Here's me reading Goodnight Moon and Zach reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

Depending where we are, we often can't talk much to the kids while we are away. In Italy we had internet and a calling card and I did, at the end of the trip, break down and HAVE to call the kids. I just had to hear their voices! Usually though I do okay and have learned that talking to them is actually only for MY benefit. It's really better for them if I don't call and check in. They are having a BLAST without us and really never seem like they wanna talk to us when we call anyway :)

I have learned for me personally that 5 days is the best maximum length of a trip. Less is great too, but by day 5 of being away from them I start having less of a good time and start having that aching feeling in my heart where I'm just ready to get back home to them! When we booked our trip to Cozumel our stay was actually an entire week but we cut it short, not only to save money on the all inclusive costs (and to allow Zach to get back to work!) but also because we know now how LONG 5 days really is! It may not sound long, but it works out to be just the perfect length of a vacation :) 

Also when we are gone we let them know that if they make good choices while we are away then we will bring them home a prize. So far, we're able to get away with some pretty cheap stuff. Heck, Kye gets crunk over a PEN haha! I know as we have more kids it may get trickier with the prizes but I think it's important to let them know we were thinking of them while we were gone. I remember as a girl growing up my dad was gone for work all the time and would bring us home a little something and that always meant a lot to me so I enjoy passing that tradition on with my kids!

I know that many mamas may not agree with how often Zach and I leave the kids but it's something we both feel passionately about and something I hope our own children will also do when they grow up and get married. It's a way for us to keep our marriage bond strong and that, in turn, also blesses our children in a big way!!! 

Do you have any tips to help your kids while you travel??? Or any tips to make it easier on Mommy to be away? :)


5 comments:

  1. Oh I love travelling without kids too. I NEED that time!! Our longest trip was 10 days to Haiti last year. Arabelle asked me why we didn't go this year because she wanted to spend 10 days at Mamaw and Papaw's house again. They've never been upset about us leaving. I try to talk it up big time and they always have SO much fun. Hopefully Mae will be the same way.....planning to go on the Haiti mission trip again next July and a 10 yr anniversary trip!

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  2. Allison BoutwellJuly 8, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    I love this post. We have actually never left Dominick, but I think a large part of that has to do with the military lifestyle and being so far from family. :( I have HORRIBLE flying anxiety now too. It never bothered me until I was pregnant...I may have to check with my doctor for our upcoming trips because it is just awful sometimes. :S

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  3. You are very blessed to have people you trust that you can leave your children especially for days at a time. We do not have that luxury. Yes, count your blessings.

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  4. Mary Anne SchmidtJuly 9, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    I needed this post. Maggie is staying with my parents next weekend while we are going away for the weekend on a camping trip. We left her with them last year at this time for the same thing, but she's older this year and definitely has more of a clue about who we are and when we're not there. I have found myself with a ton of anxiety over it. I need the time away and so does she, and my husband DEFINITELY needs the alone time with me. It just makes my heart hurt to think about leaving her. I'm working on it :)

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  5. Oh my gosh I am feeling it hard. I am actually on a trip right now, but no baby and no husband. I went with my cousins to Europe and it was originally 3 weeks but I shortened it to 2. I have only been here 3 days and I am feeling it. How the heck am I going to make it the rest of the trip? I am no stranger to leaving my baby girl, but to leave both the hubby and the baby is hard. And to tell you the truth, it's challenging to have fun over here. I know I need to keep my mind off of home but today it's getting to me. This is time I need for myself so I keep reminding myself of this.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Reading your comments makes my day!



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