I thought I’ll blog on this topic since I just returned from a vacation, without the kids. I went on my own and I am here to tell you why it is a great idea, as a parent to clock in some travel WITHOUT the kids.

Am I guilt free for leaving the kids behind? Maybe not entirely. Was I happy to be away? YOU BET.

I know of way too many parents who never travelled without their kids. In fact, on the trip that I was on, one of my travel companions was leaving her kids behind for the first. time. ever.  Her kids are (I think) 6yo & 4yo, but her case was a little more special. She didn’t have anyone to care for the kids.

I also have friends who planned for trips with their girlfriends and pull out the night before and let all those money spent on air tickets and hotels and whatever else go to waste. Because she didn’t bear to leave them behind. Ouch.

Some of you have care-givers who can look after your kids perfectly if you are away. You either couldn’t leave the kids behind, or you couldn’t deal with the guilt of doing so. Or, maybe you just belong to the group that needed to do everything as a family, stick together thick and thin, and spend everyday together. No wrong in that, really.

But… if you have an able care-giver to care for your kid and you get the chance to travel, why wouldn’t you?

If it is too much of a financial burden to bring the entire family along for a trip, making that trip alone is going to be a lot more do-able isn’t it?

If it just boils down to the guilt, I am going to tell you just not to dwell too much on it. Here’s 5 reasons why you should make that trip overseas without your kids.

Huge Chang Beer Elephant behind me in Asiatique, Bangkok.

Huge Chang Beer Elephant behind me in Asiatique, Bangkok.

1. You need the me-time/time-out.  

We all know that parenting is hard work, and you need the break sometimes. A little time off the kids or what I call me-time usually does all parties good. The adult get to clock in conversations that is not peppered with topics like milk, diapers, feeding times, developmental milestones or anything relating to the kids. You also get to bond with your travel companions, who might be your friends or cousins or other relatives. Having that little bit of time being alone, thinking and reflecting about self is always time well-spent. Take your mind off the kids and think about other things. What else would you like to do with life, goals that you would like to achieve in the future. It helps align yourself better and likely put you more at peace with yourself.

Enjoying the serenity as I read facing the wilderness, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Enjoying the serenity as I read facing the wilderness, Johannesburg, South Africa.

2. You come back refreshed, as a better parent/spouse. 

You might not want to admit that your enjoyed yourself, but you most probably did. Being happy and enjoying yourself makes you come back refreshed, and in return, a better, happier parent. Happy parents usually end up with happy kids. You also need to try not to think too much about the kids and live in the moment while you are travelling. They’ll be fine.

The theory sounds a little warped, but as parents, we often forget about ourselves and it is almost, always, everything about the kids. Taking time off the kids helps us rejuvenate, be happy and in turn, be more ready to face the kids when we come home.

The by result is also most often, better relationships with your kids and spouse. The time apart really does everyone some good, and everyone appreciate each other a little better.

Beautiful waterfall in Oslob, Cebu.

Beautiful waterfall in Oslob, Cebu.

 

3. The kids learn to be independent.

Depending on how young/old your kids are, they get a stab at being independent. How else better to learn than to actually put them in the situation to experience for themselves? For the younger ones, it probably means having to rely on someone else to meet their needs and being dependent on someone else other than yourself. In my experience, it most probably will also mean all hell break loose and they get to break some of the rules since daddy/mummy isn’t around and load on all the forbidden food. My mum always indulges in my kids’ requests!

The sad truth is, the kids can usually cope better than you do with the separation anxiety. To them, it is often more novelty and there is so much new experiences to revel in. They probably get a routine change as well and have more to cope on their hands. Any separation anxiety is likely to last a short while till the next distraction comes along. My husband travel for work many times a year and I hardly see any depression in my kids. They will ask for papa, but when told papa is somewhere else for work, they move on and get along with their lives. There has never been a case where my kids would sob/cry/scream for papa to come home. I suspect it works the same when I travel too.

When both the husband & me travel, we’ll Skype the kids whenever we can to catch up on their day and the call usually ends on chirpy tones. I guess I could either be lucky or that my kids are used to us travelling.

The boys, enjoying their bedtime at Grandma's.

The boys, enjoying their bedtime at Grandma’s.

 

4. More hands-on experience for others. 

Since you are not around, it gives someone else the opportunity to step up and get more hands-on experience. If the care-giver is your spouse, he/she gets to operate solo without you around. It gives them the opportunity to be in your shoes, and learn on their own how it is like to care for the kids, and maybe develop their own modus operandi. If your care-giver is your parents/parent-in-laws, it gives them the chance to bond with the kids, a chance to learn more about their grandchildren(s) and build on their relationship.

The boys, jumping around like monkeys in my mum's place while I was overseas.

The boys, jumping around like monkeys in my mum’s place while I was overseas.

This point is actually very relevant and important to me. Sometimes, I do have morbid thoughts about the day I leave the world. I like to know that they can still operate very well without me, and I have been training the husband for it. Who know what would happen right? Likewise, I get a lot of training as well when the husband goes on his business trips that many times a year.

 

5. Better life experiences to share with the kids. 

Travelling always bring along new life experiences and expose us to different cultures and living habits. The experiences allow us to share the world with the kids upon our return, giving us the opportunity to create stories to tell the kids. I love showing Jerry the pictures I take during my travels. This feeds their inquisitiveness and also prep them for future travels that you may do as a family.

Cherie swimming with whale sharks, Oslob, Cebu.

Swimming with whale sharks, Oslob, Cebu.

Besides, it is always an excuse to pick a little special something for the kiddos to make up for the time that you were gone.

Jerry always ask me what I do when I am overseas (he does the same to my husband too) and I enjoy telling him most of it, until the point where his questions get a little repetitive. And the question that he never fails to ask me… “Mummy, did you buy me a toy?” (*glares at my husband for setting this stupid benchmark in him)

The boys swinging their way around the airport, while waiting for my exit.

The boys swinging their way around the airport, while waiting for my exit on my recent trip.

Oh, can I also say that I totally enjoy looking at the delight on my kids’ faces when they come along with daddy to fetch me from the airport? It is often accompanied with a squeal of some sorts and I would totally rush out of the gates and give them a big teddy bear hug.

Awwwwww-inducing moment.

Having said all of the above, I am totally for creating family experiences together. I just feel it is possible to enjoy the best of both worlds – travelling solo without the kids and travelling together as a family. I love doing a lot adventurous stuff on my travels if I get the opportunity, like white water rafting, trekking, swimming with the sharks, driving around in ATVs, and I would like to plan for a sky diving trip some time soon. Some of these activities are just not suited for kids, as much as we would like to have them along.

In an open vehicle in the nature reserves, South Africa.

In an open vehicle in the nature reserves, South Africa.

Being a parent doesn’t change who you are. It doesn’t remove the adventurer in me, I still crave to do the fun things as an individual and I don’t see how that part of me should go just because I am a mum.

Everyone have dreams, go chase it, even if you are a parent today. Only you can stop yourself.

At the top of the mountains, Cebu.

At the top of the mountains, Cebu.

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