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I went on my first child-free vacation in 12 years with my husband. We came back better parents.


Couple posing for a photo in MexicoThe author and her husband went on a child-free vacation for the first time in 12 years and their relationship blossomed.

Courtesy of the author

  • My husband and I took four days away from our kids and traveled to Mexico. 
  • The initial worry quickly subsided, and we rejuvenated ourselves and their relationship. 
  • When we came back, we had a better appreciation for each other and for our children.

Before having kids, my husband and I used to travel, both for work and for fun. Our adventures ranged from riding on elephants in Thailand to shopping in local Hong Kong markets to enjoying fresh croissants in Paris.

Our relationship was based on adventure and fun as we explored the world.

And then we had kids. Almost overnight, our previous lives stopped as we entered the world of colic, exhaustion, and diapers.

Fast-forward to three kids and 20 years of marriage later, everyday life had set in. Gone were the carefree days of adventure. Instead, days consisted of driving kids around, scheduling playdates, and endless chores.

I wanted to escape

I found myself yelling unnecessarily, secretly wanting to escape, and getting frustrated with daily circumstances. Life was stagnant. I put other people’s needs over my own, and I neglected myself. My husband and I forgot what it was like to be us.

We decided to go on a real vacation — without the kids. The first time in 12 years that we were doing something like this. When I booked the tickets to Mexico, a pang of worry overcame me, yet I was excited to get away. I felt guilty traveling without the kids, but I also knew our marriage needed this. I needed this.

As I packed my bags, mom guilt took over. Even though my loving parents were going to watch the kids, I worried. What if something happened? Do we really need to get away? We could take them.

We went to an adults-only hotel

Despite my guilt, we still went. As we arrived at the adults-only, all-inclusive resort in Cancún, we were greeted with cocktails and warm smiles by the staff. Guests seemed happy, laughing, and having fun with no kids in sight.

Over the next few days, we started out our day with room service and morning yoga, followed by a walk on the beach. The big decision was what and where to eat and whether to sit by the pool or the ocean. We enjoyed each other’s company and any annoyances we previously had about each other vanished.

Was it really possible to do whatever we wanted? We didn’t have to feed the kids, drive them, worry about screen time, arrange playdates, or all the other parental daily grind.

I had forgotten what it was like to be me.

Our relationship was stronger when we returned home

When we returned home, I felt like a wiser and better version of my old, pre-kids self. Our relationship was stronger, and we were happier.

The kids immediately noticed, “Mom, you seem nicer,” my oldest commented. Since then, I’ve yelled less, am taking better care of myself, and am putting more priority on our relationship.

Now, when I get frustrated, I take a deep breath and shift my mindset to the feeling of the warm Mexico sun shining down as my toes wiggle in the sand. And whatever challenge that I am facing, I fill my thoughts with gratitude.

As the flight attendants say, put your own oxygen mask on first before you help your children. Our trip to Mexico reminded me that we’ve got to take care of ourselves first so we can take care of others. And I’m already planning our next trip.

Read the original article on Business Insider