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Mom Needs a Break from Kids on Vacation

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Here's why.

oung Woman in Sunglasses Looking at the Sea

Momlogic's Julie: I'm going away this weekend to a fancy hotel ... and plan to put my kids in the kids' club both Saturday and Sunday. An acquaintance told me this just wrong. Then why does it feel so right?

Look, I love my children. But if I'm at a hotel ... relaxing ... it's nice to get a few hours away from them. And it's not like I'm locking them in a bathroom stall leaving them to fend for themselves. They're in a cushy kids' club with video games, movies, board games, camp counselors, and room-service lunches. They're given more activities than I could ever provide. Plus, they're meeting new kids ... who, I can assure you, are probably way more fun than me.

But this acquaintance (I would say friend, but she's not really, especially now) told me that "she just can't understand why I want other people to watch my kids when we're supposed to be on a family vacation."

Um, so I can have a margarita and uninterrupted sex with my husband, for one.

We are going to Legoland Monday, which is a huge treat for my kids. That whole day will be about them. Don't I deserve time to get a massage and have some fun, too? Or does putting kids in the hotel kids' club mean I'm a bad mom?

What do you think?

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10 comments so far | Post a comment now
Natalie December 4, 2008, 6:03 AM

I think your friend is just jealous that she’s not going on a fancy vacation! If I had the option, I’d DEFINATELY have someone else watch my kids for a couple of hours, or even a whole afternoon! Just because you’re on a family vacation doesn’t mean that you HAVE to be with your kids 24/7. And you’re right, they’ll probably have more fun playing video games and hanging out with other kids, and you get to actually relax on vacation. Because, after all, isn’t that what vacations are for?

Linney5680 December 4, 2008, 8:36 AM

not a bad mom what so ever! its their vacation too, i’m sure they’ll have more fun with other kids than having to hang out with boring mom and dad. besides, if mom’s not happy, no one is happy! you absolutely deserve time for yourself and with your husband. i agree with natalie, sounds like your friend has a green monster inside!

bidsfly December 4, 2008, 10:07 AM

I think you should get points for choosing a place that has an area that watches children instead of dragging them around to things of no interest to them or (assuming they are old enough) just pidgeon holing them in the hotel room while you go out.

Mom December 4, 2008, 10:59 AM

Please reconsider. I’m 40 years old and can still remember how much I hated being dropped off at the resort daycamp for kids. I played all the games, joined in the arts & crafts, took my place on the back of a two person bike, and ate their snacks….but the entire time I was choking back tears & silently praying for my mom to come get me. It didn’t matter how involved I was on the rest of the family trip. That 1 day darkened the entire vacation for me. I can honestly say I would rather have been left at home with a sitter. I would have missed my parents, but I wouldn’t have felt as lonely & abandoned as I did spending that day in a strange place w/people who knew nothing about me. It was the longest & most unhappy day of my childhood. Some kids do fine in those situations. You’re kids might have a blast! I’m sure my parents thought I would love a day of child-centered fun. But I didn’t. It wasn’t right for me. And because it was something I was SUPPOSED to enjoy, I thought there was something wrong with ME. Therefore I never told my parents how scared, sad, lonely & awkward I felt that day. I beg you not to risk it. It’s better to hire someone your kids know to come along with you who can entertain them when you want your (well deserved!)alone time. Some children can’t cope with unfamiliar situations when they are already in an unfamiliar environment, away from home. You don’t want your kids remembering it as a traumatic experience from THEIR childhood 35 years from now! I can still see the whole thing in my mind as clearly as if it had just happened. And I’m a totally normal person otherwise, I swear. It was just one of those things that affected me differently than than it might affect other young children. Why take the chance with your own sweet kiddos?

Ginny December 4, 2008, 1:57 PM

Personally, if we are going on a family vacation, I would like to have a few hours to actually feel like I am on vacation. You know, not just a change of scenery. I love my kids more than anything on earth, but in order to be a good mom, I need some time for me, too. Last summer, we went to the beach for a week and took a niece with us (college age) to help with our girls. Everyone knew what to expect (i.e., that mom and dad would not be available 100% of the time), so there was very little issue with being “left” with anyone, anywhere. To “mom,” I’m sorry you felt the way you did. I, too, had similar experiences as a child. That is why we explain how things are going to be to our kids when we go places. They may still initially be disappointed when we leave them, but they get over it very quick, and are excited for the times we are together.

Mom December 4, 2008, 3:59 PM

Thanks Ginny. I guess my heart just goes out to any child who might potentially have the same negative reaction that I had with the experience of spending time at a hotel “camp”. As I said, I’m sure most kids do just fine! But for that 1 out of 100 who don’t respond positively to the daycamp environment, they should be allowed some sort of an “out”. Give the child a cell phone so they can call Mom directly if things aren’t going well. You can’t rely on the persons in charge to make that call on your child’s behalf. Afterall, they’re being paid to keep your child out of your hair for awhile and will be focused more on that aspect of the job vs. the emotional welfare of your kiddo. The staff is used to kids who cry when Mom & Dad walk out the door and they won’t necessarily be able to determine the severity of the child’s separation anxiety….especially if the child holds it all in for fear of looking foolish in front of all the other kids who seem to be having the time of their lives. My reaction was an uncommon one, I’m sure. But if it’s just a weekend vacation, why not spend it all with your kids. Or why not just go alone as a couple and make plans to include the children on a family oriented weekend the next time?

Oh Please December 4, 2008, 6:02 PM

I can hardly believe that a forty-year-old is still pained by ONE DAY at a hotel camp three decades ago, and can write in such vivid detail about how that day “darkened” her whole vacation. “Mom” must have had an otherwise perfect childhood that this single experience was so painful, scarring and darn memorable. Life is filled with adventures — mostly positive, one would hope — and preparing children to participate in new experiences with an open mind is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Meeting new people, trying new activities and coping in unfamiliar situations are unavoidable in life. Why not teach your kids to embrace opportunities for fun and adventure, instead of projecting your anxieties onto them?

JM December 4, 2008, 10:24 PM

Please go and have fun. Have a drink and great sex with your hubby. Kids need happy, relaxed parents.

ashley December 5, 2008, 8:25 AM

Really GO!!!! When on vacay you need at least a little actual time away from them. Anyhow, you’d think they’d rather hang out with other kids than boring old mom and dad, at least for a little while. I am kind of having the same kind of guilt right now. I am thinking of putting my 18 month old daughter into a mothers day out program one day a week. I really need it, but I feel really bad, like I’m just dumping her off. On the other hand, I think it will be good for her to play with other kids. I don’t know.

Elisa March 9, 2009, 6:57 PM

Ashley, it is completely understandable that you need/want a Mom’s day out once a week. But, at 18 months, your baby is in the “separation anxiety.” phase of her young life. A familiar family member or friend your baby is comfortable with will be much less traumatic for her. How’s about trading days within a group of friends? You each take a weekly turn to watch each other’s babies. At 18 months, children don’t really play with other children, only parallel to other children. Just a suggestion. All the best.

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