You’ve just reached the point in your family life where your kids are in school each day and have become a bit more independent. With some of the neediness and sleepless nights in the past, you wonder if it is high time to rekindle the romance and take a vacation with your partner.
Perhaps you’re past that phase, your kids are a bit older, and your youngest has finally settled into a career or into a college dorm room. You’ve returned to a quiet home. Suddenly, you realize that you can’t even remember the last time you went on a vacation alone, as a couple.
Parenting has its many ups and downs, but these critical junctures where the children have grown up a bit, or have moved out completely, can leave you with feelings of uncertlainty. Your relationship with a spouse or partner can change over time, also. If you are looking to reconnect and enjoy some of your newfound freedom, then a vacation alone together could be the perfect next step.
Let’s say that you fall into the first of these parenting timeline scenarios. Your kids are a bit more independent, though not fully independent, and you feel as though you deserve a few nights away. The allure of late mornings in bed and sightseeing without having to tote around toys, snacks, and coloring books can be quite strong.
The kidsmoon is a fantastic way to take a well-deserved break, and most tired parents return energized and invigorated. Furthermore, if your relationship is healthy to begin with, it may be a powerful way to rekindle a romantic flame and reestablish why you and your partner are together in the first place. Your relationship is about more than your children, but it is easy to forget that when you are caught up in the daily grind of shuttling kids to sports practice, helping them do homework, and cleaning their messes after meals.
There are some less positive things to consider, though. You will miss your children greatly, and you will likely spend significant time talking about them and wondering what they are doing. Frequently, parents report feeling some level of guilt for “leaving” their children behind with grandparents, relatives, or friends. If you are heading to a destination frequented by families, those guilty feelings may become stronger. Worse, many couples describe feelings of awkwardness when they are alone with their spouse or partner for extended periods of time. Without the kids around, how do you talk to each other?
You should know that all of these thoughts and feelings are normal. It is natural to miss your children terribly, to feel as though you’ve left them behind. Reassure yourself that they are likely having fun, and the break from you and your partner can often be as healthy for them as it is for you. Call them, text their caregivers, and give yourself peace of mind. Then, enjoy the freedom and quiet! Take advantage of the sound sleep, the lazy afternoons, and the opportunity to see new things and engage your partner in new ways.
If you find that you are having difficulty relating as a couple without the kids around, try immersing yourself in your activities and rest assured that this, too, is quite normal. Recall what you used to do before you had children, discuss common interests that stretch beyond your family.
The “Empty Nester Vacation”
While it’s easy to feel sad in the wake of your children leaving home, try to focus on the positive. Yes, you will miss them tremendously, but you also have this unique chance to rekindle romance, dine alone, and travel alone! Book the vacation you’ve been meaning to take, the one you could never bring yourself to plan because you were too tied up with practices, games, exams, and college tours. There is no better way to kick off this new and exciting phase in your life.
The best advice for brand new empty nesters is to take advantage of the uncertainty and transition. This is the perfect time to reevaluate your needs as a couple. If you are foodies who have thought about trying a new cuisine or a trendy culinary destination, consider something out of the ordinary. Stay closer to home and head to New Orleans or San Francisco, or think of more exotic foodie-friendly locales like Quebec, Italy, or Japan. If you feel you may want to travel somewhere exciting, where you and your partner can bond over new experiences, consider the lights of New York City, buzzy Las Vegas, or perhaps an action-packed overseas cruise.
The point is to head to a destination where you can both make new memories, relax, and have fun. Whether you are on a tight budget, or the sky’s the limit, a trip is the ideal way to celebrate your successes and discuss the hopeful future. Take the opportunity to chart the course for this new phase in your life.
Susan Block is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in marriage, family and individual therapy. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University in 1997 and completed her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Nova Southeastern University in 2004. Also an active member of The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), Susan Block offers Couples Counseling in South Florida, as well as online therapy throughout the state. Click on the link to find out more: https://coralspringscounselingcenter.com/counseling-specialties/online-therapy/