After navigating the early years of parenting, our family has solidly entered middle-childhood. Although the frustrations of potty-training and sleepless nights have shifted to arguments over bedtimes and screen time, one thing that has not changed is the need for alone-time-together for my husband and me.
We were invited to spend our first wedding anniversary at a wedding in New York. It was a whirlwind trip that with mounting school debt we really couldn’t afford. But we went. That weekend we decided to get away every year for our anniversary. Most years it has been a little trip somewhere local, other years it has been a big trip.
Going away and being away on a real vacation is liberating. I suddenly find my husband’s jokes funny again, his embraces intoxicating, his stories intriguing. His attention is no longer in competition with anything else. I pack my favorite clothes and spend the days feeling attractive, not thrown together. The combination of no stress, no lists, no carpools or deadlines, nice clothes and brushed hair, well it is rejuvenating. I again become the woman he sought, he fell in love with, and he married.
So here is how you get away with your spouse . . . .
Set your budget.
Putting yourself into serious debt or fighting over money the whole weekend won’t help. Determine how much you can spend and then plan accordingly. Don’t forget to set aside fund for food, uber, taxes and tips. Check out Groupon or other discount sites. You can get great packages when you really plan.
Set aside the time.
It doesn’t have to be on your anniversary. Find what is best for work schedules and school schedules too. We have found that leaving while the kids are in school is actually easier for sitters because they get a brake. It also gives us a weekend with the kids when we come home and many of the travel expenses are cheaper.
Find your sitters.
If you have children this is the biggest challenge for most, but it is only for a few days. They will behave better while you are away and worse when you come home. That’s normal. Deal with it. Think outside the box. Can you split them up with friends or relatives? Can you bargain with a close friend for a babysitting swap? Maybe this time they take your children with a promise that you will take theirs next time. Don’t assume one child is easier than multiple children as the multiples entertain (and tattle on) their siblings! There is no such thing as an even swap so just ask around and give up a little control. If your budget allows find a nice college kid to come nanny for the weekend.
Let go and go.
Just go. And don’t look back. Don’t ask for them to send you photos (that always makes me miss them like crazy). Don’t worry. Don’t call (that often makes it worse for everyone). Ask the sitter not to call unless there is a need. The last thing you want is to be negotiating bedtimes from another time zone. Have fun and take a break! You need it and every marriage benefits from a little time to recharge.
I used to think that the early years would be the hardest on our marriage. I assumed that if we could just get through the rough years with little ones, once they were all in school my husband and I would have so more time together. The reality is much different. With our eldest on a grownup sleep schedule, alone time for my husband and myself is still at a premium. Even when we do get alone time together, being alone together at home, with all the stress and todo lists, and things to fix and meals to make, it just isn’t relaxing. Make it a goal this year to save and get away. Just the two of you. And invest in your marriage.
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Written by MaryRuth Hackett. Find out more about her here.