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Why We Chose Separate Family Vacations

One mom explains why her husband went one way—and she stayed home

Photograph by ThinkStock

I hate family vacations.

There, I said it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of fancy hotels, room service, and hot beach butlers delivering me beverages while I soak in the sun and read a rag mag by the pool.

But how often does that really happen, especially when you have four kids?

The word “vacation” pretty much just means doing what you do every day but in a different location. And generally, a much smaller one, which means more fighting and less sleep. Tell me what is so relaxing about that?

Nothing.

I realize there are all-inclusive resorts with daycare and kids’ clubs so I can get my actual relaxation on, but it’s tough to rationalize the price tag. And if you’ve ever traveled with your family, let alone a family of six, you know those types of vacations are generally ones you dream about.

Or at least do once every five to six years, if that.

A long time ago, I might have laughed myself silly thinking that I’d consider one kid to be a vacation.

So when my husband had a rare week off, he decided that we should use our time-share points and head up to Montreal for a skiing trip, which I know sounds awfully romantic, because ooh-la-la Montreal! French-speaking people!

Except when you add lots of kids and snowsuits and sweaty socks, well, Montreal just sounds cold and wet with people speaking to you in a language you do not understand.

Also, I’m not a huge fan of snow or skiing, so really, I’d be sitting in a cafe all day, working my butt off, the tough price to pay when you have a job that’s based around retail holidays. In my line of work as publisher of the product-driven site Cool Mom Picks, Christmas is the busiest time of year, so I’m pretty sure I’d have my head buried in a computer the whole time—well, other than when I was cooking, cleaning and doing laundry, which is what I do at home every single day.

To complicate matters, our youngest daughter doesn’t have a passport, so we’d have to figure out a way to fly her up to my in-laws’ house in Philadelphia, fly the rest of us up to Montreal, and then somehow pick her up on the way back.

After realizing we couldn’t do the one-day passport office appointment, and leaving her with my in-laws’ for a week was less than desirable, I suggested that I stay home with the baby while my husband took the three older kids alone.

My kids are seasoned travelers, and considering they’d be in ski school all day, my husband would have plenty of free time to snowboard and ski to his heart’s content, and I could stay home, work guilt-free, and get an actual vacation of my own.

A long time ago, I might have laughed myself silly thinking that I’d consider one kid to be a vacation, but now that I have four kids, staying home with one child is a breeze.

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And so, after much deliberation, we agreed on a separate family vacation, which turned out, for the first time in the history of our family vacations, to be relaxing and enjoyable for both of us.

In fact, it might just be how we take all our family vacations from here on out.

Sure, my husband still had to deal with the cooking, cleaning and laundry, but considering he travels much of the month, it was actually a “break” for him to be doing those chores. Plus, he was with the three older kids, who are all potty-trained and easily entertained. Heck, no diapers is a holiday right there.

And as for me, well, I had a dandy old time with my 2-year-old. I didn’t cook once for the entire week, surviving on leftovers, take-out and frozen meals. I might have done one load of laundry, compared to the one I do every single day of the week, sometimes two.

Plus, with just one kid at home, it was much easier and cheaper for me to find a babysitter, so I even got to spend a couple nights out having dinner with friends. On another night, a neighbor took my daughter so I could do some quiet holiday shopping.

Basically, I lived the life of a bachelor and loved every single second of it.

Yes, of course I missed my kids. But let’s be clear. I’m around them all the time, and it was good for us to get a break from each other, and for them to spend some quality time with their dad.

And it was pretty awesome to spend a little alone time with my youngest, who never actually had my full attention at any time in her life.

As anti-family-friendly as taking a separate vacation might sound, the truth of the matter is that you might actually end up getting a vacation out of the deal.

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