I’ve recently returned from a trip with friends in belated celebration of my birthday (like, 5 months belated.) It’s hard to take the time to gather friends, leave family behind, and carve out space for ourselves. I often see couples getting in ruts of not making time to nurture the couple — focusing only on the kids and work. But just as I’m a firm believer that it is important to nurture your relationship with you partner, it is also critically important to nurture your relationships with friends.
Here’s why you should plan a friends' trip now:
Put friendships first. As I’ve said, friendships can often become back burner when you’ve got kids, especially if you live far away from your friends. While FaceTime and WhatsApp are great, we need time to strengthen bonds, catch up, and, perhaps most importantly, make new memories.
You deserve to actually RELAX. We all know that family vacations are not relaxing. While there are many wonderful things about family vacations, every parent has had that “I need a vacation from my vacation” feeling. A get away with friends can be truly relaxing, and as a parent, you need that.
Let the connections at home build without you. If you have a partner, getting away is a great chance for them to connect with your kids and take on the primary parent role. Often the go-to parent assumes that their partner can’t take care of the kids that way you do. I’m going to just put this out there: you need help your partner feel empowered to care for the kids. They can never learn this unless you step away and let them be in charge. Things won’t be done the way you do them, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily wrong. Accept the difference, and welcome the space for you to care for yourself in the process. If you don’t have a partner, this is a perfect chance for the kids to get to know grandparents or other important relatives in their lives — the bigger the village the better.
Try new things. When you vacation with friends, you have the space and time to try the things that may be too hard to try with kids around (or just more stressful.) Go surfing, do the hard hike, or tour a winery. Anything that would be harder (or less fun?) with kids around, do it now. And along those lines…
Eat slow, stress-free meals. How many times have you been out to dinner when the kids are running around totally over-tired and wild? While you wish you could enjoy that glass of wine in front of you, what you really want in the moment is to just get the check and run out of there. One of the most blissful parts of traveling with friends is slow, luxurious meals. It doesn’t have to be fancy, you can just enjoy each other's company even when it isn’t fast.
Teach your kids about self-care and investing in friendships. Sometimes teaching our kids about self-care is in the little daily lessons — the time we take to move our bodies, eat healthy food, and nurture our creative spirits. These are all wonderful things for our kids to see and learn from. But they also need to see that investing in yourself and your friendships can take more time and effort, and that sometimes you need to make space to devote to that, too. Demonstrating this to our kids is a powerful lesson that will benefit them as they grow.
I’ve returned to my family refreshed and thankful. Aren’t those lovely feelings to bring home to your crew? When was the last time you got away with friends? What’s standing in your way?