It's summertime, the weather is amazing, and there is so much to see and do. The good news is, you've just dropped the kids off at summer camp, or with relatives and you are FREE. Now what do you do? If you're like me your first reaction is to feel a combination of remorse, guilt, exhilaration, excitement, and temporary paralysis since you are overwhelmed with options. Here are some great ideas of things you should do to make the most of your kid free respite.
1.) Take a vacation! If the kids are away for at least a week, go somewhere. Make it a couples thing or grab some friends for a group outing. You don't have to spend tons of money on it, you could go camping, or to a B&B on the beach, hit an all-inclusive resort or take a cruise to a new destination. Bottom line: Get up and get out there and enjoy your kid free status!
2.) Even better have a "staycation"! Not in the mood to plan a trip, feel like finally completing some of the long-term projects that always seem to allude you, or you just feel like doing nothing, well home is the perfect place for that. Sleep-in, take LONG showers, binge watch and catch up on all the shows and movies you've been wanting to see. Time at home can be just as relaxing, rejuvenating, and fun as a planned vacation. Bottom line: Whatever you do, enjoy the time, and keep other commitments to a minimum.
3.) Pamper yourself! While you are enjoying your down-time, you can catch up on some much need grooming and being-your-best self activities. Get a haircut/go to the salon, get a massage, facial, mani/pedi or all of the above. You've got the time, might as well let yourself unwind, recharge, and feel good.
4.) Go on a date night or many! Take your spouse or significant other out on a date or several. You don't need a babysitter and you have no time constraints. Trust me when I say you will enjoy your nights out even more without having to worry about what the kids are doing at home or being hyper aware of your cellphone in case the baby-sitter might be trying to call. See a movie in a movie-theater but make sure it is not a cartoon or in any way geared toward a child audience.
5.) Do what you want to do NOT what you must do! If you've been waiting to read the book you downloaded or picked up a few months ago and haven't started reading, now is your chance. If you want to try a new class at the gym, go for it. If you actually want to hit a happy hour after work with your colleagues, do it. This is your chance to let your hair down and be "you" again, not the parent version of you, but the kid-free or pre-kid version of you.
6.) Don’t go grocery shopping for at least a week. Order in, eat out, and/or heat up something you already have in the fridge and take a moment to enjoy it. Eat what you want, when you want it, without having to hear "ew vegetables" or "this is gross, I want pizza"!
Many parents feel guilty spending time away from their kids, but it is absolutely essential to your well-being and peace of mind. Parents need to devote attention to themselves and not lose focus on the importance of their adult lives, in order to be patient, supportive, nurturing, and present to their children. If it is hard to shake off the guilt, keep in mind that your children are away having a great time and learning/doing new things without you, so there is no reason why you can’t do the same without them!