Three tips on how to get that much needed “us” time on your family’s next vacation.
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You are sitting down to plan out your next big family adventure. You’re setting a budget, researching destinations, and building up the excitement. Then you hit a roadblock. You want this to be a nice time with the family, but your husband’s been working so hard to provide for this trip you’ve barely seen him. How can you make this family oriented, but still get that one on one time with your spouse you’ve been craving? The fact is you won’t if you don’t plan for it.
Tip 1: Find resorts that have a kid watching services. Places like Aulani (Disney’s resort in Hawaii) have special rooms where kids can be left in the care of an adult. These are for a limited amount of time, but the experience is free of charge. Most of the time these services are included in your stay. It’s best to check ahead of time to make certain. The age range on this is usually potty trained (i.e. 3ish) to 12. Sometimes there are teen-only areas for your 13-18 kids, but these are staffed for access purposes, not for babysitting purposes. Most places believe ages 13+ are old enough to be without direct supervision.
*Some Disney hotels will even provide you with access to in-room babysitters. It costs extra, but the people are vetted by Disney so there is a higher level of trust than Craigslist.
Tip 2: Bring the grandparents. Instead of leaving the kids with the grandparents and flying off on your next great adventure, pay for the babysitting to come with you. That way you get the best of both worlds. Coordinate the times when you want it to be just you two. Plan activities for split operations. Grandparents and kids can both get tired by the end of the day. Pick up a meal to go and let them veg out in the room while you go on a date. The added benefit of this option is no one must sit next to a stranger. As a party of six, you will take up a whole row on the plane, bus, or any other transportation devices.
*Houses on Airbnb aren’t much more expensive than some nice hotels. Put the adults in the rooms and the kids on the couch or third bedroom. Having a house instead of a hotel also opens options for eating in. That is another money saver. This way the only added cost of having the Grandpa and Grandma along is flight and ticket entry into places you visit.
Tip 3: The value of older siblings. When at least one of your kids is twelve or older, have them watch the younger ones for a time. This can be at the pool (if you think it is safe) while the two of you slip over to the hot tub. Another moment can be caught back in the room. Settle them in with a picnic style meal of sandwiches and chips while you to go out for dinner at a nearby restaurant. The key here is to have a set area where you know they are safe. This way you can relax and enjoy the couple’s time.
*Don’t have an “older sibling”? Pack one! Many older cousins, i.e. 12-17 year-olds, would be willing to share a room with your little ones in exchange for going on the trip of a lifetime. A few things to keep in mind: First, don’t put all the babysitting responsibilities on them. Yes, you paid their way so you could have some alone time, but that shouldn’t be more than once in a day, and not every night. Second, let them have some space to themselves. This is a maybe a once-in-a-lifetime trip for them; let them enjoy it. Third, you are taking responsibility for this child just like you do your own. You want to treat them like your own child. If you wouldn’t let any of your kids do X, don’t let them, no matter what they say their parents would or have let them do. Also, don’t take anyone that you aren’t comfortable with disciplining. If a teenager is out of control or mouthy at home, going on a trip with you will not change that. Be selective in the kid you take with you. You want them to relieve you of work, not be work.
If you don’t feel like your kids are safe, you will never relax enough to enjoy your spouse. So even before the trip, take time to plan “safe” spaces where you feel comfortable leaving your kids. Make a contact list for them (if they are old enough to read it), give them one of your cellphones during the times you are separated (if they don’t have one of their own) with the other spouse’s cellphone on speed dial. Anything that makes you feel comfortable when you are apart. The point here is to give yourself time to be a couple. That will only happen if you aren’t worrying about your little ones.
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