Why a Parents-Only Staycation Was the Best Thing Ever for Our Marriage

I admit: Around this time each year, I do a (somewhat manic) mid-summer checklist. Has my family scored some great beach time? Have we caught fireflies on the lawn? Have we had enough barbecues? Gone to a baseball game? It’s sort of this late-July panic to pack it all in before summer is over.

I’m sure not everyone is as obsessive as I am, but I’d like to think that we all have a similar list. (After all, there’s nothing quite like reliving summer through the eyes of our kids.) That said, my latest summer must-do is not what you might think. In fact, it doesn’t include my kid at all.

Ready for it? It’s (truly) the one-night, mom-and-dad-only, staycation.

Okay, so hear me out. I know it doesn’t sound so thrilling, but that’s sort of the point. It’s minimal effort — and the payoff is HUGE for everyone involved.

Earlier this summer, my parents offered to have my toddler sleep over at their house for our anniversary weekend. My husband and I got so busy with life, we actually never made getaway plans, so we haphazardly booked a local dinner reservation and then, well, came home. And guys…It. Was. Glorious. In fact, this staycation was so refreshing and so fun – exactly what we needed for our marriage. Here’s why:

1. We experienced our home as grownups. I was 8-and-a-half-months preggo when we moved out of our Manhattan apartment and into our house in the nearby suburbs. As soon as we (sorta) unpacked, our beautiful daughter arrived, and life was a whirlwind unlike anything we had ever experienced. We wouldn’t change it for the world, but after 8 p.m., we tiptoe around cleaning sippy cups and tidying toys before attempting to catch up on the couch (but basically just passing out on each other before primetime TV begins). So the sheer gloriousness of an entire house just as a couple is pretty terrific. Patio doors were left open. Music was played louder than sleeping-baby volume. Red wine was left dangerously close to the white couch with abandon (we are rebels, I know).

2. We got a legitimate break from parenting. Sure, we get a break when we go out to dinner and a babysitter watches our daughter — but then we come home and it’s back to mom and dad mode. This staycation, however, gave us an entire night all to ourselves, without worry of being awoken by our child (who is a ridiculously light sleeper!) — and it was priceless.

3. Our kid (and our parents) loved it,  just as much as we did. There is nothing more magical to my 2-year-old (or my mom) than hearing the words “sleepover at Grandma’s.” She’ll immediately start rattling off all the “special” things she can do there. “I read momma’s books and play with her toys. I drink from the blue Elsa cup. I eat ice cream.” You get the drift. These little things are very big for her, and it’s heartwarming that she’s building memories similar to the ones that I still have from visiting my grandma’s house as a kid (I can still remember the smell of the soap from my baths there).

4. It was spontaneous. Since my parents live close by, we were able to have our staycation on a whim. It was easy to pull off — and a positively glorious last-minute memory to add to our summer repertoire. And here’s the thing: We’re all excited to do it again soon.

So that’s my last late-summer to-do for you. Have a staycation with your partner, and create your own amazing memories!

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Photo: Getty/Yuri Arcurs