Imagine the holiday scenario if you will. You are relaxing on a tropical island, with the breeze gently caressing your hair, and the tranquil waters lapping at your toes. The only stresses you have are deciding what time would be best to meander over to the spa for your next treatment, and whether or not your next drink should be a champagne or a cocktail.
Now, cut to scenario two and bump back down to earth with a harsh reality check if you can. Because now you are a parent and, let’s be honest, the above scene is highly unlikely to play out.
The chances are that relaxing will only be done when the overly excited children have been bribed to sleep very late at night, the only breezes caressing your hair will be those released in sighs of relief that they are in bed, and the stresses will be too many to count.
Admittedly, these kinds of things are part and parcel of parenting and, for the most part, the chance to holiday as a family is fun and a time to be cherished. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t definite advantages to escaping kid free when you are a parent, as Kate Johns explains.
“We had a family wedding in Bali last year and initially thought we would take the kids,” she says. “But as the time to book everything got closer, my husband and I talked about going away, just the two of us, and the idea slowly gained momentum.”
John’s children were two and four at the time and the idea of a week off, eating as a couple, sleeping a whole night uninterrupted, and getting the chance to fully relax was too appealing.
“We knew we wouldn’t get to share the adventure with them, or create those memories as a family unit, but once the seed of possibility of these things had been planted, it was hard not to watch it grow!”
The eight-day holiday was the first time that Johns had left her children for longer than two nights in a row and, naturally, when she was planning the trip she faced the wrath of mother’s guilt.
“I felt it was a really long time away from the kids, and was unsure as to how everyone would cope,” she explains. “But we spent time with them preparing for our absence and, in the end, they were almost excited to see us go!”
Johns says that the holiday was perfect and enabled her and her husband to finish conversations in one hit, and do what they wanted, when they wanted, without the restrictions of little people’s needs.
“I got to be Kate, not mum. I love being a mum, but it was lovely to feel and reconnect with the other components that make ‘me’. It was also really nice to be part of a couple, as opposed to two people raising children together.”
Arriarne Kemp-Bishop, a mum to twins aged 3 and a half, concurs with Johns’ sentiments and has holidayed with her husband alone three times in the last couple of years.
“My husband and I were together for over 20 years before the girls came along and so we feel it's important to maintain some focus on our own relationship as a couple, and do some of the things we used to love doing together before.”
Like Johns’, Bishop admits there is always an element of guilt involved when it comes to leaving the children behind.
“We call them twice a day when we're away, we buy them special things to take home, and we do miss them dreadfully. But, generally the positives of taking the time away outweigh this.”
So does this mean that Bishop is planning on going on more holidays without the children in the future?
“Yes, we will go on holiday alone again, either overseas for brief periods, or for long weekends away domestically. We are considering going back to Hawaii in March next year for six days when the girls will be just over four and we will also have a nine month old son by then too.”
Not everyone feels the same however. For others the idea of leaving the children behind to go away is not an option, as Talia Carbis explains.
“My husband and I have taken our son on every holiday since he's been born. We've been on one trip to New Zealand, and then last year when he was 14 months old we went round the world with him for three and a half months. I was pregnant at that time too.”
It is Carbis’ belief that travelling with her son is not only a great opportunity for him, but also adds to the richness of the experience for her and her husband.
“We had to slow down a lot more, which really made us stop and appreciate the beauty around us,” she explains. “You also meet lots of locals and other tourists when you travel with kids so that really enriched our travels as well.”
Carbis feels that the travels they have done as a family have brought them closer together, as well as showing her and her husband the length and breadth of their parenting capabilities.
So would they consider going it alone, and leaving their children behind in the future?
“I would consider going away overnight without them, but probably not longer than that. Why bother? Kids are great travellers, and it’s usually parents who make things more complicated than they need to be! I can’t think of any situation off the top of my head where I would prefer to go without them. I would feel like I’d robbed them of a great learning experience and a lot of fun.”