Vacation Without the Kids: How to Handle the Guilt

Many mothers want to take a vacation without their kids, but choose not to do so out of guilt. Find out here how to deal with this feeling.
Vacation Without the Kids: How to Handle the Guilt
Sharon Capeluto

Written and verified by the psychologist Sharon Capeluto.

Last update: 27 February, 2024

Would you like to take a vacation without the kids, but guilt tortures you? Do you want to enjoy a getaway as a couple, but you’re worried about what others will think? Are you worried that your children will have a bad time during your absence?

Due to the enormous responsibility and demands of parenting, it’s more than expected that at some point, the desire to take a break from toys, tantrums, and children’s demands will arise. It’s clear that traveling with children has its charm, but doing it without them is also valid.

To manage the feeling of guilt that appears when making the decision to take a vacation without the company of your little ones, it’s important to prioritize planning and make sure that your children’s routine doesn’t suffer abrupt changes. Keep reading and learn more strategies to free yourself of guilt!

Am I a bad mother if I have a good time without my children?

A woman saying goodbye to her partner from the window of a train.

Parenting is perhaps the most difficult job that a person can carry out. Clearly, once we become mothers, priorities change. Our desires and needs take a back seat to the fact that there’s now a little creature depending on us.

However, as our children grow older, they become more independent. Doesn’t that mean they need us less? Gradually regaining the individual and social spaces you used to enjoy is important in order to take care of yourself and your children.

The same is true regarding your relationship with your partner: Generating intimate moments to rediscover one another and recover your sense of complicity is essential. According to clinical psychologist Laura Markham, enjoying leisure time without your children doesn’t make you a bad mother. In fact, it has a positive impact on the family group.

At the same time, an article published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) emphasizes the idea that taking time for oneself and tending to self-care makes us more patient and empathetic with our children.

Strategies to reduce the guilt of going on vacation without the kids

You have the right to take a vacation without the kids and not feel guilty about it. In fact, you deserve it. Consider these tips to help you feel at ease about taking a short trip without your children and, at the same time, help them adjust as well as possible.

1. Plan ahead

It’s important to let the kids know about your vacation a few weeks before it happens. The truth is that there’s no specific time to let them know. That’ll depend on the needs of each member and the family dynamics.

It’s essential not to surprise them. If it’s the first time they’ll spend several days at home without your presence, you must give them time to process the situation and allow them to ask all the questions they want.

In addition, you must ensure that they’re cared for by a person they absolutely trust. In this regard, last-minute solutions are inadvisable.

Make sure their routine doesn’t suffer significant changes

Maintaining consistent routines helps children feel calm and have a better school performance. Keeping a consistent schedule for waking up, eating, and going to bed is more significant than many parents realize, as research published in the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly explains.

Changes in their day-to-day lives weaken their sense of security, leading to anxiety and discomfort. Therefore, it’s essential that even if you’re not at home, your children maintain the same structure and don’t suspend their daily activities. Of course, there are modifications that can’t be avoided. The important thing is that these are as unnoticeable as possible.

3. Keep communication open

A mother practicing long-distance parenting.

No one wants to be on their cell phone during their days off. However, if you leave our children at home, it’s not a good idea to cut off communication with them. Because even if they’re with another responsible adult, they may have an emergency or simply need their mom’s voice.

You can suggest talking to them every night, at least for a few minutes, so they can tell you how their day was, and you can share yours with them.

4. Have fun at home

Who says staying home is boring? For them, it’ll also be a break “without parents.” Therefore, children perceive your vacation days as an opportunity to have fun with friends, neighbors, or other family members.

A good alternative is that, before you leave for your trip, you can plan together the outings, games, or activities they’ll do in your absence. You can also leave surprises for them to keep them entertained. For example, you can prepare a treasure hunt or leave gifts hidden in different parts of the home.

To take care of your children, you have to take care of yourself

Being a good mother doesn’t mean giving up your own happiness. On the contrary, in order to exercise motherhood from a respectful and loving place, it’s crucial to feel at peace with yourself and take care of your needs.

Ultimately, the well-being of parents makes their children happy. Therefore, taking a vacation without the kids isn’t a selfish act, but a way to foster autonomy, strengthen family ties, and teach them the importance of self-care. What are you waiting for to plan your next getaway?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.