Try abandoning your children sometimes

It’s okay — you can, and should, go on vacation without them

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

There are destinations that are perfect for children—Disneyland, LEGOLAND and Universal Studios among them. Then there's Old Man of Storr, a rocky hill with scrambling ascents in Trotternish, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Make no mistake, it's not like my wife and I spent almost two hours trying to summit Everest. Old Man of Storr is more of a walk than a hike or climb. But it would be hard with children—the Quiraing, another landslip in the same area, is even more taxing.

But we wanted to do something for ourselves. We'll soon be celebrating our ten-year anniversary. We haven't had a child-free vacation in five years. And my eldest daughter, Nadia, would have complained that she was tired not five minutes into the any of the outdoor activities we did on Skye.

So we left her, and my youngest daughter, Rowan, with family for two weeks. I'm not going to lie—in the months leading up to our trip, I was riddled with anxiety. What if Nadia accrued too many tardies and was kicked out of school? How bad would Rowan's separation anxiety be? What manner of junk food will they be cramming into their gobs while we're gone?

But you know what? They were fine. Sure, we came home to a mountain of sugary cereals and single-serving Kraft Mac & Cheese cups. And the one time we chatted with Nadia on Facetime, she looked like a zombie. But our kids survived.

And we had a great time.

A brief list of things you cannot do with your kids on vacation

  1. Spend almost $300 on an eight-course meal at one of the best restaurants in the world.
  2. Toss back beers while trying to put away a three-pound serving of nachos.
  3. Take your time reading every single info card at a museum because there's no one tugging at your sleeve begging you to leave.
  4. Sleep in until almost 10 AM.
  5. Listen to raunchy podcasts while driving around in a tiny Fiat that wouldn't be able to accommodate one car seat, let alone a second.

I will say that I promised Nadia we wouldn't go to Paris without her. It took almost all of my willpower to ensure we kept that promise during the two rainy, miserable days we spent in County Kent. Most of the attractions we wanted to see were closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Dejected, we looked at ticket prices for the Chunnel. I came this close to pulling the trigger. And, then, I remembered what I said to my five-year-old. That meant the last leg of our trip, in Dover, wasn't as exciting as our time in Skye and London. Still, I'm thankful for the resilience our kids showed in pushing through without us, and we kind of owed them.

So I made another promise: we will never, ever go on vacation without them again.