We can’t always afford the time or the money to take a weeklong vacation with the family. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t utilize our time off. Historically, I always felt like I should just stock up on PTO if I’m not doing anything fun. But that’s a bad idea for two reasons: first, many companies, mine included, max out PTO and you stop accruing it if you don’t take it; second, the burnout struggle is real if you never take a day off. And what better way to use that time off than to spend a little quality time with the kids? Granted, it’s important to spend time taking care of yourself as well, but here are some unique ways you can use that PTO for some good old fashioned fun with your family, bank-breaking not included.
A few months ago, we went on a family vacation for the first time in three years. And since then, we have had the opportunity to go on a kid-free trip to New York. So when my husband’s best friend gave us two months’ notice for his wedding in France, I figured due to time and cost, we’d be sending my husband alone. My parents had already agreed to watch the kids for our trip to New York only three weeks earlier, so I was confident that even if I could take the time off work, we wouldn’t have a plan for the kids. But my incredible parents agreed and we were able to buy my flight with frequent flyer miles, so off we went for a very quick trip to France.
I used to travel. Not like wanderlust world traveler kind of travel, but a reasonable amount. I’ve seen my fair share of places, though I have many on my list left to visit. But you know, you have kids, and you work full time. And it takes planning. And it costs money. And, let’s be honest, is it really even fun to travel with kids? We did do a bit of traveling–both domestic and international–with our first. But we added another kid to the mix and all travel came to a halt. We finally–FINALLY–planned and booked a vacation to Mexico, which we took last month. And it was so wonderful. I mean, it wasn’t leave-your-kids-and-spend-a-week-sipping-cocktails-on-the-beach wonderful, but it was better than I expected.
Full disclosure: the best part of this trip was that my parents and my brother, sister-in-law and niece were on this trip. Yeah, yeah. It was nice to spend time with them. But the absolutely BEST part was a ratio of six adults to three kids. Glorious.