Vacations WITHOUT kids: How I forgot how to hold my husband’s hand and other midlife observations

It took years for us to finally take a vacation without kids.

We loved to go camping in our pop-up tent trailer when the kids were little.  My friends used to joke, “if the trailer is a rockin’, don’t come a knockin.”  Truth be told, our trailer was stationary. No rockin’ going on. Just filthy little boys in a small space peeing on the bed.

To complicate the issue of limited vacation time and limited funds, my entire family lives out-of-town. Many vacations were road trips to visit family in Pennsylvania and New England or the occasional flight to California.  Don’t get me wrong, they are all lovely people and lovely places to visit, but with limited time and money, it was one more thing to get in the way of the ever elusive vacation without kids.

Then something quite unusual happened.

The stars aligned and after 16 years of marriage, we could see a romantic vacation in our immediate future. All three of our sons were at the same overnight camp during the same time period. Finally, we were getting something BACK in return for about $12,000 in camp fees at that time.

When our kids first started going to camp, I remember seeing parents jumping for joy and screaming goodbye with glee when the bus pulled out of the parking lot heading off to camp.  These same parents made a beeline to the airport and hopped on a flight to Europe.  I watched with shock and awe. I couldn’t imagine that ever being me. How could they be that happy and vacation that far away?

Guess what?

Eventually, it was me too.  I was happy.  I was stress-free.  I was excited. I was giddy.

We didn’t hop on a flight, be we did load up the car and pop in Dan Brown’s, Da Vinci Code audio book and happily drove 11 hours to Tadoussac, Quebec for a phenomenal whale-watching experience. As long as we could drive to camp within a day if the kids needed us, I decided I was “OK” with the plan.

Next stop was Quebec City, an extremely romantic place. One night at dinner, I became aware of the silence that had set in. Obviously we had become so used to relying on our kids providing the entertainment that we had forgotten how to entertain each other with witty and interesting conversation. I stepped it up. I used to be quite entertaining, if I remember correctly.

Then, I noticed that we weren’t physically touching each other when we were walking around this beautiful city. No hand-holding, no romantic embrace on a bridge, nothing.

I mentioned my observation to my husband, grabbed his hand with intention and away we went.

We finally looked like every other couple strolling about on vacation.

This trip marked the beginning of “vacations without kids” for us. Other such vacations while the kids were all at camp included Cape Cod and Hilton Head/Savannah. We even worked ourselves up to a couple of week long adventures where we couldn’t even be reached or get to camp quickly, which were a white water rafting trip in the Grand Canyon and a catamaran sailing trip in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Alas, now the tables have turned, we are doing everything we can to take vacations WITH the kids again. With two at college, one in high school and summer jobs, scheduling is a nightmare and we are pretty much stuck with the most crowded and expensive time of year to travel, Christmas break.

Oh well, so be it. I want as much family vacation time with the kids as possible before the other competing time commitments get in the way (that is, girlfriends and jobs).

My plan is to continue to prioritize travel for our family as long as I can, and let other things like updating living and dining room furniture and building the screen porch of my dreams go farther down the list.

My big midlife observation is that as time continues to fly by at record speed, my desire to spend as much time with my family looms larger than ever before. I didn’t even know this was possible. Family adventures together, local or far-flung, are an amazing way to do this.

This is what living intentionally is all about. Priority setting is so important and something we deal with in my coaching practice. Many of my clients tell me that they feel as though they have “woken up” all of a sudden and half of there life is gone.

Midlife has a way of sneaking up on you.

Sometimes you need a little help to get your life moving in the direction that YOU want. Most of us do. But you have to be ready to do what it takes to make sure you don’t have regrets. You have to be ready to make a change and stop settling.

Midlife isn’t a crisis. It’s full of possibilities to create the life you have dreamed about. You really can do it. But it won’t happen on it’s own. You have to intentionally craft the life that you want. That’s what my life coaching practice is all about. I offer a FREE Mini Session to learn more. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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