How to (Finally!) Take That Kid-Free Vacation

For our first kid-free vacation in three years, my husband and I planned a weekend in Cape Cod. Just the two of us, our neglected road bikes, and maybe some cold lobster rolls in our jersey pockets. When we actually pulled it off last spring, it felt like a second honeymoon. No responsibilities, no cheddar bunnies. We could finally catch our breath.

Like millions of parents across the country, we carried on through the pandemic as the challenges piled up. In the early days of the lockdown, I still vividly recall taking care of my COVID-infected husband, homeschooling our then four-year-old son, wiping down groceries, nursing my four-month-old daughter, and rethinking my career when The New York Times had to shelve a filed travel assignment. Then our landlord informed us he wanted to sell our home. And shortly after that, my wonderful 104-year-old grandmother died.   


A new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than half of those who identified as caregivers reported experiencing depression or PTSD-related symptoms due to the stressors of COVID-19. It took me a while to realize that I was a burnt out caregiver. My usual drive to exercise and play with the kids gave way to all-consuming fatigue, a shorter temper and one glass of wine too many; there came a point when I had nothing left in the tank. I called up Nanika Coor, a Brooklyn-based clinical psychologist and parenting therapist, who said the well-being of caregivers is one of the best predictors of a child’s psychological and emotional health. “Kids have the best chance for healthy development when they are raised by parents who have the internal resources to meet their needs with calm, confident consistency.” The opposite of calm, I reached out to my newly vaccinated parents and asked for help.


Here’s how to maximize your own kid-free adventure—avoiding a few rookie mistakes I made—and why it’s a surprisingly healthy choice for the entire family. 


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