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I was nine years old and my brother was three when my parents took their first and only vacation without us. Fast forward 15 years: my husband and I leave our kids with family members at least once a year to take mini (or extended, depending on the occasion) vacations.

It’s not that I don’t miss my kids when I’m away. I call them daily and feel comforted that they’re having fun and are well-cared for, but I cry as I wave goodbye to them anyway. Nevertheless, I continue to take vacations with my husband, as well as an occasional “girls’ weekend” with my friends.

Why? I need a break from my kids.

Why You Should Take a Guilt-Free Vacation Without Kids

If you’re a working mother, you may feel guilty for wanting to take a break from your kids. Especially considering that I barely saw my kids on the days that I worked, I often felt like I needed to spend every spare second with them. However, after spending all day hunched over a computer and dealing with a hectic work environment, I wasn’t able to be the mom that I wanted to be. I was so tired and cranky that I just wanted to get away.

A vacation will recharge your marriage

A U.S. Travel Association survey found that “86% of respondents who travel as a couple believe that ‘the romance is still alive in their relationship,’ compared to 73% who don’t vacation together.” Bring on the relaxing kid-free vacations!

A vacation will help you bond with friends

My friends and I have gone on several “girls’ weekends,” and while we make multiple phone calls home and lug our pumps and bottles and everything else along with us, we have a great time. We make so many memories and solidify our friendships.

While planning a vacation with friends who have kids is often difficult, you can also plan day trips or even “mommy mornings” to get some of the same benefits. Here’s a great list of activities to do with friends for free and how to make time for friends.

A vacation will improve your relationship with your kids

When I was working, I was constantly stressed out, and between the commute to and from work and cost of daycare, I thought that I would be able to spend more time with the kids and increase my family’s overall quality of life by coming home.

Now that I’m home full-time, I still look forward to kid-free vacations. Having a child constantly under foot can be emotionally and physically draining. I love spending time with my children, but I need adult time, too. Spending time away from my children recharges me, and I can appreciate my children more when I’m with them.

Even if I only leave the house for a couple of hours, I’m still excited to return, refreshed and ready to play Spiderman Chutes and Ladders for the 1,000th time with my son or eat “green beans” from the toy spoon that my daughter shoves in my face.

A vacation will refresh you (if you ignore the “mommy guilt”)

Despite the fact that I love getting “me time,” having an occasional date night with the hubby, and enjoying a girls’ night out, I feel ashamed to admit that I want a separate life from my kids. There seems to be a lot of “mommy guilt” surrounding the amount of time that parents spend with their children.

According to a study completed by Pew Research, the amount of time that parents, both mothers and fathers, spend with their children today has greatly increased since 1960. Even so, 33% of parents with children under the age of 18 still feel that they don’t spend enough time with their children.

Why do parents feel this way?

It’s important to cherish every moment spent with your kids, but it’s also important to take a break and recharge so that you can be present when you’re with your kids. In addition, kids need to view their parents as people, not just as “Mommy” and “Daddy.”

By spending time away from your kids, carrying on adult conversations and doing other activities besides reading Llama Llama and playing Chutes and Ladders, you’ll feel like a whole person again. After a vacation, you’ll return home to your family, ready to enjoy life and “tickle the wheat” with your children under foot.

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