We got into the car, closed the doors and let out deep sighs of relief. It was Saturday morning at 7am and we had already been awake for two hours…but we were fine with that, because we were a couple on a mission. What was our mission, you may ask? To have an entire weekend alone! Joel and I have been married for almost 12 years. We have three little girls ages 5, 3, and 1. I am at home with the kids full time and he is working full time, coming home to the kids, “Daddy, Daddy!” as soon as he dons our doorstep each evening. Needless to say, our plate is full. We prefer to see it a little differently…our cup runneth over!
However you look at it, we were in need of a little trip away. We try to go out on a date (out of the house) at least once a month, sometimes twice if we are able, and plan dates at home the other weekends after the kids are in bed. But this is the first entire weekend away that we had planned or attempted since our youngest was born.
Many couples with children our own kids’ ages may just decide to wait until their youngest is a bit older to attempt a getaway weekend on their own for a variety of reasons. It is hard if the child is still breastfeeding or co-sleeping. It is hard if there is no family in town to care for the child(ren). It is hard because children get sick often and plans can easily get canceled. It is hard if you are a single income home and don’t think you can really afford the luxury of a getaway weekend.
All of those reasons pertain to us (except the breastfeeding – I weaned a few weeks ago) but we still set out to attempt this trip. Our marriage is our top priority, aside from our relationship to God Himself, and we need to carve out chunks of time to invest in this relationship (which, by the way, demonstrates to our kids our priorities). So, you may ask, how did we do it?
Well, first of all, we began to plan for this weekend getaway in May. Yes, we planned for a December getaway in May. Why, you may ask? Because as you probably understand and deal with yourself, during the school year there are plenty of events and previously planned activities vying for our attention and commitment most weekends. We also planned this far in advance because Joel had a free ticket from airline miles that he had to book or he would lose it. So, we said, “December 7th and 8th it is!” and we began to plan and look forward to our trip.
As the time for our weekend away drew closer, we decided it would be easier to ask three different families to care for one of our girls, as none of our family members live nearby. We are very careful about who we ask to watch and care for our children. Thankfully, we have a wonderful community of friends from our neighborhood and church whom we know very well and trust completely. We have spent time in their homes and with their own children. We know that our kids will be well cared for in our absence. It is a very comforting feeling to drop off your kids and know that the people taking care of them will love them just like you do.
Three days before we were to leave, my youngest daughter, Abigail and I both got the stomach flu. It didn’t last long, but we were sweating, waiting and watching to see if the other two would get it. We prayed for health and protection. They never got it. We praised God, dropped off our kiddos, and flew to NYC!
How we afforded it? Well, I already mentioned that Joel got his ticket for free. My dad is a retired Delta pilot and I have been flying standby since I could walk. I must admit I know the system like the back of my hand (part of being a pilot’s daughter). So I only paid the tax of a regular ticket. Then, instead of staying at a pricey hotel in Manhattan, we chose to use www.airbnb.com. We rent our own basement through this wonderful service and it is a fabulous way to see different places at lower cost. We paid $100 to stay in a great little apartment in Manhattan.
While in NY, we had a blast. We say that we had the equivalent of about 5 dates in one! We went out to fun, unique restaurants, went shopping on 5th Avenue and Times Square, saw the larger-than-life Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, spent time in remembrance at the World Trade Center memorial, and viewed a wonderful play. Our favorite part, though, was just being together. We took a long stroll through Central Park, drinking hot chocolate and talking about our relationship, how we have grown together, and what our vision is for the future.
So, I would encourage you, if you have little children and would love to get away for a day or two, go for it! If money is an issue, get creative and try going somewhere that is a little less expensive or using a service like Air B-n-B. And don’t get frustrated if your plans get canceled due to sickness or unexpected complications. We had planned a getaway in September but it didn’t happen because we couldn’t find people to watch the girls that weekend.
Stay determined to get this time away and eventually, it will happen! And you will be able to look back at that time together with great joy and memories knowing that all your effort was worth it!
Do you have any tips and tricks for fun, inexpensive getaways? What do you recommend? How do you make it work with the little ones? We’d love to hear from you!