The words "romance" and "family vacation" may seem like totally opposing concepts and shouldn't be used in the same sentence.
When you're busy trying to be a good parent - romance with your partner may sadly end up at the bottom of a very long list of priorities. Covid made parents work even harder! Homeschooling, remote work situations, financial adjustments, all that togetherness – not much time left for self- care or romance.
Vacations offer the perfect opportunity for parents to recharge their love life. Sadly though, instead of planning vacations, many parents tend to plan “guilt trips” for the kids. Sure, rides at a theme park are fun for kids but exhausting for parents who are already stretched to the limits.
Here are some ideas to help incorporate some adult time into family vacations….
- Take a kid free vacation – There, I said it…and surprisingly many parents need to hear this. This might not be what you would expect to hear from a family travel specialist, but it is the truth.
This does not make you bad parents and you are not neglecting your kids. This is taking care of the two of you so you both can be better parents. Often, it is a simple matter of compromise. For example, instead of seven days with everyone at the theme park, take the kids for 4 days. Then plan a separate long weekend where the kids stay with family or trusted caregivers while mom and dad have a few days to focus on themselves.
And by the way, do not let our name fool you. At Vacationkids, we do plenty of adult, romantic vacations. So far, we know of 14 real life Vacation “kids” that were created as the result of these romantic getaways so do take necessary precautions. We just handle vacation planning. Family planning is all on you 😊
- Set a Vacation Budget and Stick to it – Nothing kills romance like worrying about money and paying bills. Make sure you and your partner have an honest conversation about finances before getting intoxicated with romantic vacation notions and possibilities. An overwater bungalow in the Seychelles is indeed romantic but when the credit card bill arrives the following month, it may be the last bit of romance you’ll have if you’re not in-synch financially.
- Vacations with Kid's Club - Many family friendly all inclusive resorts and cruise lines offer free child-care as part of their vacation packages. Evening babysitting can also be arranged, usually for an additional fee. This can help parents carve out a little “alone time” or at very least a romantic dinner and a show.
- Travel with Others – Traveling with Grandparents, relatives or friends is another option. The idea here is that child-care responsibilities can be shared giving parents the opportunity for some time to themselves.
While this idea sounds great in theory, success here is totally based on the dynamics of the people involved. For some people, traveling with relatives may add an additional level of stress to their vacation. Some people also travel together better than others. You may have another family that you get together with for fun BBQ’s or game night, but can you really spend an entire week straight with them and their kids?
One way to protect feelings and friendships it to create a written plan or contact ahead of time that outlines everyone’s roles and responsibilities. Having agreements in writing helps to protect relationships and ensures everyone is on the same page.
- Arrange Babysitting in Advance – For some families, it is easier to bring their nanny or au pair with them on vacation. This gives parents peace of mind with a trusted caregiver and provides children continuity. In some cases, an adult family member can travel along to watch the children. Again, this all depends on budget and family dynamics.
- Choose the Right Room – When it comes to romance, ambiance matters. You do not want your kids “interrupting” you and your partner. This is the time to splurge on a suite with a separate bedroom or sleeping area. If budget is a concern, then it may be a matter of quality over quantity. 4 nights in a one-bedroom suite may be far more romantic than a week in a room with two double beds. If a suite busts the budget, then maybe a balcony room with a private hot tub will give parents some space and something to do at night when the kids fall asleep.
- Create Surprises – Little acts of kindness and thoughtfulness shows your partner you care. Feeling appreciated is a sure step in the right direction when it comes to romance. Champagne and an order of chocolate covered strawberries does not need to just happen on Valentine’s day. Flowers for mom or a spa appointment while dad takes the kids on an adventure makes her feel appreciated. Having your wedding song playing when you return to your room after nightly turn down service can warm your heart. Ask us for help and ideas. We have lots of tricks up our sleeves that can help promote that loving feeling.
- Take the Pressure Off – Some parents worry their children will get bored on vacation. They schedule their vacation time full of activities as if it were a structured military maneuver. Vacations should take the pressure off everyone’s shoulders and not create FOMO. Plan for quality time and a balance of fun adventures and down time. Your partner may not be in the mood for romance after an exhausting day full of sightseeing and child wrangling.
- Choose a Romantic Destination – France, Italy, Portugal, Thailand…if children live there, then it is a child friendly destination. If you and your partner have always dreamed of visiting a specific destination, it can be done with kids in tow. It might take a little planning and compromise but there is nothing more romantic than fulfilling a dream the two of you share together.
- Kids Enjoy a Little Romance Too - Little ones may throw a tantrum if they feel they are missing out on something special. If you and your mate want a vacation date night, get the kids involved. Help them plan the evening. Let them pick a restaurant or go over the menu together. Help them pick out date clothes what or some other element of the date. In resort or on a cruise, you could order appetizers via room service and have the kids play waiter before everyone departs for the kid’s club and restaurant. If children feel included, chances are, they will be more likely to cooperate.
It may not be like your honeymoon or those romantic escapes you enjoyed when you and your partner first started dating but that does not make a vacation with kids any less romantic. In fact, your love has grown and brought brand new little people into both of your lives. This alone is something wonderful and should be celebrated. Live life to the fullest with your partner and children now. These will be the moments you remember in the future.