You’ve just had an epic day out, the kids went to sleep easily and you’ve got a date with your partner and a glass of wine on the hotel balcony. Except, you can’t keep your eyes open. Or how about that time you excitedly sought out your beloved only to find them totally engrossed in a James Bond marathon? Please tell me I’m not the only one this has happed to. Making time to connect with your partner (and yes, that includes sex) on your family vacation isn’t easy, but I do have some advice to increase your chances.
With family travel, connecting with your partner often gets neglected. With all the logistics, new attractions and ensuring nobody gets hangry, romance is often put on the back burner. True, you’re on a family holiday. The point of great family vacations is to connect with your kids while they still want to hang out with you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also make connecting with your partner a priority. Here’s my best advice on how to make time for each other during your family vacation.
Get the right accommodation
Mom and Dad will enjoy their family vacation so much more if they have a separate bedroom. Trust me on this. Not only does everyone sleep better, but a door that locks also provides parents a level of privacy enjoyed at home (wink, wink). Hotel suites are notoriously pricy, but one bedroom apartments on vacation rental sites are an affordable option.
If you’re staying at a hotel, aim for one that runs a children’s club. Kid’s Clubs were invented just so parents can snag a little down time. Many resorts offer them and you’d be surprised by the number of city properties that do, too. At a minimum, most hotels offer babysitting services or should be able to provide you with contact information for a local certified babysitting or nanny service. If guaranteed time alone with your partner is a must have on your holiday, be sure to budget for this expense.
Another advantage hotels offer is proximity. Depending on the age of your children (and the laws in each country), it’s feasible for parents to go on a date within the hotel. Know this: It doesn’t matter if you’re going to one of the best places for a family vacation (whatever “best” means to you). You just need to find a spot where there’s something interesting and fun to do during the day, and get a hotel or house rental that affords parents some privacy.
Make it a multi-generational vacation
Travelling with grandparents or other adults in your family does double duty. Not only do you get to spend quality time together creating shared memories, but the other adults can usually be counted on to watch the kids at least one night during your vacation.
Just don’t treat the grandparent (or other family member) like a live in nanny. It’s their vacation, too! See how you can accommodate their needs, so it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. Everyone needs downtime. You shouldn’t feel guilty about carving out a piece of time for you and your partner, or perhaps just for you alone.
Another option is bringing along a teenage niece or nephew. If they’re mature enough, you’ll feel comfortable taking advantage of the freedom their presence provides. Your kids are sure to enjoy bonding with their cousin and it’s probably a nice change of pace for the cousin, too. Their parents might even offer to pay for some of their expenses, but this shouldn’t be expected. If you’re bringing along a relative on a working holiday, you’ll want to hash out the terms of agreement prior to booking their flight.
What if your partner is driving you nuts on your vacation?
Familiarity breeds contempt. We often have these expectations of how great our family vacation is going to be, but when you’re stuck 24/7 with everyone, it should be expected they’re going to get on your nerves. Especially your partner. You’re probably not glued to the hip at home, but with family travel you are.
The solution? Make sure each adult has time alone to recharge. Have one partner take the morning off then switch childcare duty at lunch. Better yet is taking an entire day to yourself. It’s actually pretty fun at the end of the day to meet up and compare your adventures. Fun family vacations occur when everyone has something to look forward to.
There’s a lot of talk about setting kids up for success, but not so much about how parents should follow similar guidelines. First and foremost, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. If not, perhaps a nap is in order for you, too. Find yourself becoming overwhelmed with trip logistics and getting short with your family? Give yourself a time out and step away from the group. By nurturing yourself, you’ll be able to give your family your best.
Creative ways to have sex (or connect with your partner) on your family vacation
Romance doesn’t need to happen after dusk. Parents need to sneak in moments whenever they find them. Children happily playing at a playground, is a choice opportunity to have a heart to heart conversation. You can still oversea your children while connecting with your partner. You just have to be conscious how you use those moments. Here are some suggestions for connecting with your partner while away from home:
- Take the kids out of the room to let your partner sleep in. Bonus points for returning with coffee and breakfast.
- Pick up a local magazine or newspaper to read together.
- Offer to watch the kids while your partner has a few hours to themselves to do whatever they wish.
- Sip a bottle of wine together on the patio.
- Ask your hotel about day camps and babysitting services.
- Look up nannies on call in the area you’re visiting.
- Give a shoulder or foot rub – easily done if the kids are watching TV.
- Wait! Are the kids glued to a screen? Run to the washroom and draw a bath for the two of you. See where that leads.
- And if you’re really wanting to, well, you know, there’s always sex in the shower….
Try to keep in mind that you’re on a family vacation, not a couple’s getaway. Even if you do manage to find some privacy, you may find it difficult to shift your attention away from your children and onto each other. It gets easier over time. If you’ve got the littles set up with a hotel babysitter, grandparent or day camp, trust that they’re being well taken care of and could likely benefit from a break from Mom and Dad.
Maybe you can’t manage to sneak in much couple time during your family vacation. So what? It’s not the end of the world. Perhaps you can schedule a date night a week or so after you return home. How about bringing in a mobile massage therapist to the house right after you get back? Not only will the massage help to unravel those travel kinks, it’ll put both parties in a relaxed mood.
How do you manage to sneak in couple time (whatever that means to you) on your family vacation?
Want more tips on making family travel more manageable? Check out my book: 25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit.