Does the idea of stealing a few romantic moments with your husband while vacationing with the kids seem as unlikely as not hearing the dreaded "Are we there yet?" when embarking on an eight-hour road trip?
But making sure you and your spouse have a little downtime can be the key to a truly relaxing and enjoyable getaway. Licensed professional counselor Terri DiMatteo of the award-winning Open Door Therapy agrees.
"Child-centered family vacations can result in parents returning home tired, fatigued, and resentful -- in need of a separate vacation just for them," says DiMatteo. "It’s all too easy for parents to overlook their own needs when planning a 'family vacation.'"
If the closest you'll get to achieving intimacy on a family vacation this summer is holding hands while waiting in line for the log flume ride, don't despair. We've got some suggestions for making the magic happen, even with the whole brood on board.
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1. Bring the Babysitter. If you have a trusted babysitter, consider bringing her along, even if it's just for a day or two. Another pair of eyes is always appreciated whether you're at a theme park or the beach. Plus, when you're away from the comforts of home, leaving the kids with someone you all know and like while you enjoy a romantic dinner offers peace of mind for the whole family.
2. Invite Extended Family. Speaking of the family, why not suggest grandma, grandpa, or a beloved aunt or uncle tag along? Ask them in advance if they'd mind keeping an eye on the kids for an evening or two in exchange for a chance to get out of town. This is a great opportunity to make new memories together as a family and, separately, as a couple.
3. Find a Nanny-Inclusive Resort. Some vacation hot-spots are seeing the value in adding a nanny to their already long list of amenities. While you might pay more than you would for a vacation with simply a "kids' club" option, if round-the-clock R&R is what you're seeking, this may be just the thing.
4. Plan Ahead. Even somewhere as unsexy as an indoor water park can offer a chance for romance if you plan ahead. Pack some candles or pick up a bottle of wine and enjoy them together outside your room or cabin after the kids are in bed. Take a moment to reminisce about a time when cartoon theme songs didn't play on a continuous loop in your head.
5. Together but Separate. Just because you're on a family vacation, that doesn't mean you need to spend every waking second together. For example, if you're setting out for a picnic lunch, why not make up a kids' basket and parents' basket? Bring two blankets and enjoy an hour or so in close proximity but still a bit apart.
"Intentionally carving out even just a small sliver of time early in the vacation can make all the difference," DiMatteo says. "It’s important to keep in mind that good parenting is very much about modeling behaviors and much less about what you say. While there may be some protestation from the children, keep in mind that kids are the clear beneficiaries when they witness their parents prioritizing one another and enjoying their time together."
While the words "romance" and "family vacation" may seem incompatible, making quality time a priority and putting a little thought into it before you depart can make a big difference.
How do you find time for romance on a family vacation?