It's Great to Have a Vacation. And Even Better When You Leave Kids at Home

I love my daughter. But I love her even more when I come back from a vacation without her.

My husband and I just returned from a short trip to New Orleans, where we spent a precious four days without stressing about who would put Layla to bed, what kid-friendly dinner to cook, and how we could go out for a drink just the two of us while wrangling a reliable babysitter.

When you have a young child it’s easy - necessary, even - for a relationship to become centered around parenting. Your child needs you more than your partner does, and so part of responsible parenting sometimes means that your romantic relationship comes second.

While family life is lovely, though, the core relationship that started it all can too often get lost in the mix. And I think my daughter is much better off having fully-connected parents who occasionally remember that before there were three - there was a loving two. For Andrew and I, that means taking an annual holiday without our daughter.

For some of my friends with children - this is absolutely unthinkable. They’ve never spent a night away from their babies or toddlers (or adolescents!) - part and parcel of a modern parenting culture that puts a premium on “attachment” with children over all else.

I get it, and to each their own - we all have to navigate the complicated mess of parenthood in the best way we can, and using the techniques that make us most comfortable. But I can’t help but think that if we consistently put our children above our relationship, that both will suffer.

I think Layla is better off having parents who remember why they fell in love - and who get to explore that by themselves from time to time. And I truly believe that in the long-run, she’s more likely to appreciate in-tune parents than she will suffer from being away from us for a few nights.

Besides, I want to model a relationship for her that is about love and mutual respect - and teach her that as much as she is the center of our world, she’s not the center of the world. And that means sometimes she’ll be disappointed, sometimes her needs will come second, and that while mom and dad are pretty darn great - she is just fine without us.

Now, we’re very fortunate: many can’t vacation at all - let alone make a decision about who to bring on said vacation. But we can all find ways to re-center our relationship in the midst of chaotic parenting: a night out, a conversation over dinner that isn’t about school permission slips or homework, a closed and locked bedroom door.

Now that we’re back from New Orleans - rested and happy - we have a renewed energy for parenting and home life. The decisions over who is going to bring Layla to her next doctor’s appointment or whether or not we need to pick up some more toilet paper are still mundane, not not as mind-numbingly so.

Our time playing with Layla feels more precious, too. Which is why the next time around, we’ll cap the holiday at three nights. Four was a little too miserable without cuddles from our daughter.

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