Summer is yet another opportunity to feel bad about the places you haven’t traveled because you have young children and it’s too hard/expensive/logistically challenging. But I am here to tell you that there’s an answer, and it’s called “Take a Staycation and Send Your Kids to School/Daycare/Camp.”
Jon and I recently did just that. Much as we’d have liked to be back in Botswana, trekking in the bush and spying on elephants as we did when we were young and newly married, or at a B&B in the Berkshires drinking fair trade coffee and gearing up for a hike or a concert at Tanglewood, or in Guatemala boating on Lake Atitlan, we have toddlers and a bank account to consider. So instead, when a vacation week rolled around recently, we decided to try something different, something–I can’t believe I’m about to say this–just for us.
From Monday through Thursday of this magical week of which I speak, Jon and I enjoyed a vacation right here on the north shore of Long Island. We sent the girls to school each morning (and honestly, getting them up and out with two on two instead of one on two was a vacation in and of itself). Then, after drop off, we each went to the gym (yes, our vacation involved exercise, something we find little time for during regular life). After our respective workouts, we went to the diner for breakfast (because obviously our hour of exercise warranted omelets and toast).
After these wondrous meals which ended without a pile of eggs on the floor and no one’s hands feeling sticky, we alternated between a day at the beach, a hike upstate, an afternoon spent tooling around our house working on our own projects and one–just one–day of errands. (And even on that day of errands we managed to fit in stops for frozen yogurt, iced coffee, and a quick browse through a local bookstore.)
At 3:40 p.m. each day we got into the car together and went to pick up the girls. Pick-ups were a celebration–hooray! Both mommy and daddy are here! Afternoons were fair game for anything–the library, playing at the park, running through the sprinkler in our backyard, hunkering down in the basement with some play dough. One parent would play, another would get dinner ready, and holy crap things are easier with two parents around all the time. After dinner, which was routinely calmer than usual, we’d share bath and bed time rituals and tuck the girls in.
But staycation days didn’t end there. On three nights of our magical week, we had a babysitter or a grandma come over so that we could go out (one night to dinner together, one night each meeting with friends on our own, one night to a movie). And one night we stayed home and marathoned through the end of the Mad Men season.
Friends, this was a good week.
Would it have been nice to be back in Botswana, sleeping in our four-star tent with the rose petals strewn on the bed and face towels shaped like swans and stuff? Yes. Am I going to lie and say I’d rather be watching Downton Abbey and eating frozen veggie burgers? No. Could we still use a change of scenery this summer? Yes. Of course.
But if you need a break (you do) and you can’t get away and you and your partner have a few vacation days you can take together with childcare in place, I urge you: take a staycation. It’s so nice to be home alone together (when was the last time you were?). It’s so nice to jog through the daily activities with your kids, side by side. It’s so nice to go out to breakfast like you used to when you were dating, or married before kids. Pick up a novel and read parts out loud to each other. Grab a pint of ice cream, clink your spoons, and collapse on the couch. You’ve earned it.