Sandy Beaches

We watched Couples Retreat on Saturday night. Basically the premise is that four couples go away to some secluded island to work on their marriages / relationships to make them stronger.

I don’t want to talk about the movie – so facile and fluffy. But I do want to talk about the location. I am not sure where they filmed it but I am definitely sure that I would love for the KoD and me to be on a plane right now headed for what looked like Paradise. Beautiful beaches, glistening deep blue sea….Sigh. We didn’t really have a honeymoon – the week after we got married we spent looking at schools for the boys here in Monsey. So romantic. Not. :) Would love to fly to Hawaii for 2 weeks sun and sand and Harley riding… It is nice to dream, isn’t it?

So, here’s the question. I know many couples who do pick up and go away for a week for vacation without the children. How do people do it? Farm the kids out to friends / relatives for all of that time? I am thinking I might feel a little guilty at leaving the kids for more than a day or two. What do the children think about being left with friends while the parents swan off to relax and have fun and they are stuck with school and homework?

I am trying to remember the last time I took a real vacation that did not involve seeing relatives or attending family functions, a vacation that was just about ME and unwinding and relaxing. I am coming up empty. How often do you vacation? With or without the kids? Who watches them for you? Do YOU feel guilty leaving them?

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  1. Clemom says:

    We haven’t gone away alone since my oldest was born so that makes it about five years. Growing up, my parents would have someone stay in our home while they were vacationing. I feel it’s less disruptive than placing the kids with various family members/friends. I’d feel less guilty knowing my kids are sleeping in their own beds and are somewhat keeping to their daily routine.

    It’s important for couples to have more alone time than the average date night and I hope my husband and I get that chance soon!

  2. I’m not a parent yet, so I can’t speak from experience. However, I have read enough and know enough about psychology to know that parents have to take the time to spend time away from their children and with their spouse. It’s incredibly important for the mental health of the parent and the emotional health of the relationship for parents to have time away. When my parents used to go away when I was little, my grandparents would come stay with us. I know that when I become a parent, I will take the time to spend time away from my children with my spouse.

  3. Kathy says:

    In my limited observations, it seems that couple whose own parents, that is the children’s grandparents, live close enough and are healthy enough to take the children are significantly more likely to leave the children with Bubbe and Zayde and have some time to themselves than couples where that isn’t the case. In general, that seems to work better than having friends take the kids.

    In your case, the best option for getting away with KoD would probably be some cooperation with your childrens’ other parents. Not likely to occur during the cold month of February, so you can retreat to the warm tropical islands, but might be possible during some longer school break.

  4. Chanief says:

    We’ve gone away every now and then and have, in the past, left their kids with my husband’s parents. We’re going away for a week in January and my sister is coming to stay with the kids while we’re gone. I’ve never felt guilty leaving them because we’ve always left them with people they love and feel comfortable with. I think it’s important for kids to see that Mommy and Daddy have their own lives, and for them to see that when we leave we come back. Honestly, I feel guiltier leaving the dog who doesn’t understand where we’ve gone, why, or if we’re coming back! :P

  5. chana says:

    i certainly understand the desire to get away, sorry, the need to get away. every person needs me time for their own sanity and emotional health and i’m sure it makes them better parents for it. but… and this is a little embarrassing but i feel obligated to tell you my experiences as a child.
    when i was very little, probably under 5, my parents took me to stay by my grandmother while they went away. i don’t even know if it was for 2 hours or a whole night, but what i do remember is that i didn’t understand that they were going away, leaving me with a virtual stranger (my grandmother didn’t live nearby and i didn’t know her that well then) and the thing i didn’t understand the most was that they were actually going to come back. my grandmother found me sitting on a kitchen chair, miserable. i said to her “i don’t understand, what did i do wrong? i’m not a bad girl. why would my mommy leave me?” i truly did not believe she was coming back. when they finally did come back i was sooooo relieved but that must have really traumatized me b/c i remember that feeeling.
    later when i was in elementary school and my parents would like to go away every winter on vacation they used to send me to an aunt who has 2 daughters my age. they were very good to me there, i have some happy memories there, but that niggling feeling of “my parents don’t want me around, they can’t have fun with me around” never left.
    i hate to make parents feel guilty and i know i’m overly sensitive. my sister says i remember too much. and of course every family dynamic is different. i am one hundred percent positive that you, hadassah, have much better communication in your household than what i grew up with. so take this with a grain of salt, but since you wanted to know a kid’s point of view… here it is

  6. formermonseyite says:

    Every winter, my parents went away for a week to the Carribean (different islands) and my Nana (my mother’s mother) came to stay with us. We probably didnt feel abandoned because we were in our own house and went to school like always. It was the best time, because my parents always worked and we hated going to neighbors houses after school, but when my Nana came, someone was home waiting for us as we got off the school bus and had a snack waiting and ready for us and wanted to hear about our day. Of course, she baked cookies with us and let us watch TV and do all sorts of other things that grandparents let kids do that parents do not. So it was a lot of fun for us and I have some of the fondest memories of spending time with my grandmother from those trips.

    In your situations, I would think when your boys go on vacation to visit their father you could arrange for a trip with the KOD and not have any guilty feelings.

  7. batya from NJ says:

    I think it’s important for couples to carve the time to be together alone. My husband & I try to get away ideally once a year for a couple of nights by ourselves & we cherish that time we have together. That said, we have never gone too far. We try to limit our getaways to a short drive from home so that in case of emergency we can get back quickly. The past 2 summers, we left my 19 year old daughter in charge of my 11 year old daughter while my 15 year old son was away at sleepaway camp for a month (which made it easier for my 19 year old). Prior to that, we’ve left all 3 kids with my parents while we visited them at their home (which is far from ours) for 1-2 nights although they once visited us at our home while we left to Newport, RI for a couple days. Ideally, we would LOVE to go somewhere exotic but the ideal & the reality are sometimes 2 very different things & we are thankful for these mini-getaways that we’ve been able to take every so often.

    I’d recommend that you try to plan a mini-getaway while your kids are visiting with their other parent (perhaps in the summer or whatever). Perhaps last June when your kids were away with their dad, might have been a good time for you & the KoD to have gotten away for a bit but perhaps it was just not possible for the KoD to get away then from work or whatever. Bottom line, I would recommend that you leave the kids with their other parent rather than with friends b/c then they are too scattered & it may be harder for you to relax on your getaway when you are busy thinking about how each boy is managing at his friend’s house.

    To sum up, I think couples getaways are extremely helpful & important in many marriages (& certainly my own). I try not to feel guilty when I leave my kids b/c I make sure to leave them in good hands with very explicit instructions as to their daily routine etc & as much as exotic getaways are a huge fantasy of mine, at this stage in my life they will probably remain as such for a good long time.

  8. Elle says:

    That isn’t an option for us, so we don’t go away. I’d totally love to! But not as the expense of my children – and right now it would be. I think so much depends on the children’s ages and what type of relationships you have with your extended family.

    • Chanief says:

      I agree. Every situation and family dynamic is different. The dynamics can change over time too. My kids used to like going to Bubby and Zaidy when we went away because they let them watch TV on school nights, make their favorite foods, buy the snacks I won’t buy etc. Lately, however, they have not wanted to go stay there because as they and their grandparents have gotten older it’s been less fun. This next trip we are taking I arranged to have my sister come stay with them because they think she is the COOLEST aunt EVER. They’re so excited to get a whole week alone with her that they are counting down the days until we go. I don’t think we’d be going away if we had to leave them with someone they weren’t thrilled to be with – it would be completely unfair. So yes, so much depends on the family relationships and it is unfair to go away if it is at the childrens’ expense.

  9. Z! says:

    Well, the way I was raised my parents took a week away every year to somewhere hot/nice. We had a babysitter ( a 60 year old lady) come and stay with us and drive us around and make sure we were fed and generally ok. She had an unusual obsession with owls that makes your obsession, H, with elephants and mine with fish seem like nothing in comparison! I mean- her entire house was devoted to owl things! But she was nice.
    We, the kids, had summer camp. Sleep away camp was our vacay from our parents.
    Mom and Dad always brought us fun souvenirs and they were able to be better parents as a result of them having the time to reflect and “miss” us.
    Fast Forward to today, with my DH, we try to get away often. 2 weeks a year. With quick Shabbos trips with friends to Hotels in the area and maybe further out trips to friends in Florida. ( I mean, with Spirit air and priceline, travel in the US is SOOOOOO inexpensive) Though, this year has been a wonderful one of sponteinious trips to Israel as well as the usual cruises… Not just because we B’H have the disposable income to do so, but also we work hard/play hard and have no children yet.
    As for those of our friend’s that do have children; one couple tries to get away once every 5 years for a week; another didn’t take a break without the kids for about 8 years and when they finally did they vowed to do it again once a year! another couple, has friends across the street or in laws where the children feel safe.
    Is it selfish to go away and leave the kids- no. Going away without the kids demonstrates very important lessons in growing up and being a mature individual. it makes children a little bit more self reliant and strong. It makes your marriage take the front seat once in a while. After all, the reason you/I got married in the first place was/is NOT for the kids. You must enjoy life!!

  10. Mark says:

    We’ve never gone away without our kids. We also rarely use babysitters, and the rare times that we do, we prefer to have my mother or my mother-in-law over to watch the kids. While it would be nice to go away for a few days without the kids, I am not sure we would be able to enjoy ourselves properly. Maybe in a few years (8?) after all of them are old enough to be [mostly] on their own we might consider it.

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