I myself grew up in a family of six in the San Francisco Bay Area. We took annual summer road trips up to South Lake Tahoe. And if there is one thing I always remember, it’s that we always had a babysitter with us on that trip. And guess what? I LOVED IT! I did not understand the importance of that babysitter as a child. I just associated a babysitter with games, movies, and endless cheese pizza for dinner!
Without even knowing it, my parents have taught me (by way of example) how important it was on family vacations to carve out time for each other and their marriage. It took me having my own children to realize that getting alone time with my husband is not always an option, and that you have to be very intentional with your time. Having a babysitter on those annual trips to Tahoe allowed my dad to go golfing, my mom to go shopping, and for my parents, alongside their best friends, to go to the casinos and fancy dinners without kids. And so now, my husband and I have been very intentional in chiseling away time from our kids during vacations and get aways, and my hope is that in reading this, you may find a way to as well.
Logistically speaking –
Having another person on your trip (especially a babysitter, nanny, caregiver, parent, in-laws) helps alleviate a lot of stress that comes along with traveling with kids. You now have another adult to help with the kids. That’s two more hands!!! Some of you might be reading this going, yah right, I can barely afford to go on this vacation, and now you want me to bring someone else too!? We do not bring someone on every trip with us. We do it when it makes sense.
So you are not completely convinced about bringing someone along for your family trip. Depending on the trip, it is, and can be totally doable. Especially if you are staying in a VRBO, a cabin, or a house rental. Many times there are plenty of beds and/or space to squeeze in one more person. Typically for our family of six, we have to rent larger homes, cabins, or hotel rooms/suites. For us to fit in one more person, it actually works. So much that you might consider allowing the babysitter to bring a friend. When the babysitters are not working, they would have one another to keep company, go exploring, and hang out.
If you are driving to a destination, could you squeeze one more person in your car with you?
Maybe you aren’t able to afford to bring a caregiver, but what about inviting another family along? You could predetermine date nights for each couple while the other couple stays in for the night with all of the kids.
Financially speaking –
If you often find yourself coordinating babysitting services when you are on vacation, you may want to look at the overall cost per trip (babysitter fees per hour times how many hours you plan on using them). Private babysitting rates in exotic locations can be expensive. Would it make more financial sense to bring along a caregiver and pay their room and flight in exchange for a set amount of babysitting? Or maybe you can come to an agreement that they pay for their flight, and you will pay for their room and board?
Maybe it is not a babysitter that you have to pay at all. Maybe it is your in-laws that want to go on a family vacation with you. Would they be willing to prearrange certain date nights for you, while they watch the kids? Of course they would not take money, but a thoughtful gesture to show your gratitude can go a long way. A nice bottle of wine, a spa certificate, a hand written thank you note, or maybe plan a special excursion for them to do while you are on your trip. Whatever it is, make it personal.
Emotionally speaking –
Ten years ago, my younger self would have scoffed at the very idea of letting someone else watch my kids while I was on a family vacation. I wasn’t even a mother yet and presumably these questions ran through my head. I was loaded with false ideas of what honest motherhood was and even more so I was stubborn to ever ask for help with anything…”What kind of mother would do that? Why would I go on a family vacation only to leave my kids in the hotel room for a night? What would someone think of me if I told them I am letting someone else watch my kids while I have adult time?” And then reality set in. It wasn’t until shortly after my first that I overcame my stubbornness and let go. I was working full time and needed a support system. I needed time off from parenthood. We went on a trip to Disneyland with our then one year old daughter. We had our babysitter come and watch her at night, so that Dave and I could have time at the park without a stroller and a fussy baby. Would some people say that I am selfish? Absolutely. Do I care what other people think if I know what is important to me and my marriage? Nope! In order to be the best mom I can be, I need to make sure I put myself and my marriage at the top of my priority list.
Why it works?
I could give you a hundred reasons not to bring along a care giver with you on a trip…but I can give you a hundred plus 1 reasons why you should. If you have never considered bringing someone along with you, think it over and see if you are willing to make it work.
If you are not quite sure about bringing along someone for a long trip, consider trying it out for a weekend get away first, or even an overnight trip. Take advantage of the help and make sure to sneak away even for an hour or two.
Not ready to commit to bringing someone along with you to get some couple time? But maybe you are willing to leave your kids at home for an adult vacation? Here is a list of things to remember when leaving your child with a caregiver.
If you have more questions, or just need that final nudge, send me an email or drop a comment below. I read each and every email and every comment. I will always get back to you.