This is a guest post, sponsored by Dove Men+Care, written by my husband, Matthew.
After the Fourth of July holiday, I took Elias and Adeline on a 3-day “Vacation with Daddy” getaway to Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’ll admit, though I was truly excited about getting away with my oldest two, I was also a bit apprehensive about it.
You see, it was the first time I’d ever embarked on a vacation with the kids without Jessica, well, except for a couple visits to see my family. As you likely know, Jessica is the planner in the family. She’s the vacation expert—the packer, the organizer, and the fun and adventure curator. But as it turned out, as soon as we were on the road, driving toward Chattanooga, my worries faded. Moreover, seeing the grins on Elias’s and Adeline’s faces in the rearview mirror just added to my excitement.
Over the course of the next two-and-a-half days, Elias, Adeline, and I had an absolute blast. We played. We saw things. We ate good food. And we chilled. So, if you’re wanting to take your own just-mommy-or-dad-with-kids getaway, here’s a few thing to consider before you go.
Build your getaway around one big idea or theme. Maybe it’s camping trip or an overnight stay at an amusement park or a trip that’s all about things that start with the letter T—your theme can be anything you want it to be, simple, extravagant, funny or ironic—but planning your escape around a general theme or idea, helps you not only plan a fun adventure for your kiddos and keeps them engaged in the process, it also helps manage your kids’s expectations lest they think you’re a superhero with an unlimited ability to pull “fun” out of a hat.
What was our getaway theme?! Well, thanks to Dove Men+ Care, our vacation was all about staying in one of Chattanooga’s brand new, incredibly designed treehouses. The kids were so excited about staying in an actual treehouse and it did not disappoint. It was amazing.
The Elements Treehouse was built and designed by a couple of the pros from Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters. It’s exterior and interior design is inspired by Dove’s new Elements product line for men (a collection of shampoos, body washes, deodorants, and soaps featuring earthy ingredients inspired by nature like clay, charcoal, sage, and sandalwood).
Upon arriving at our treehouse, Elias and Adeline were simply in awe. At the first glimpse of it from the walking path, they both squealed and started running toward the stairs to the front door.
As we entered the space, the scent of sandalwood welcomed us. The kids darted to the bathroom and oohed and ahhed at the incredible design of the shower (which involves a living tree growing right through the middle of the bathroom).
They then cheered when they realized they would be sleeping in two beds in the kid-sized loft.
The treehouse turned into an adventure all its own. The kids loved being cozied-up together in the evenings, reading and playing games in the loft, and for once, I didn’t have to argue with Elias about taking a shower. The 5-shower heads completely won him over.
Don’t over schedule your vacation. Listen, do yourself and honestly, your kids, too, a favor: don’t over plan. Don’t try to squeeze in every single fun activity you can possibly accomplish why on your getaway. Now, I know some parents do really love to pack their kids’s schedules in order to keep them busy and keep them enjoying themselves and keep them preoccupied so they don’t start arguing with each other or with you. But I think sometimes over-scheduling a vacation is counterintuitive to what a vacation is all about. As a kid, when my family and I went away, my parents didn’t have anything pre-planned.
We did something fun or interesting every single day, but we also had plenty of down time to do whatever we wanted to do, play games, relax, or whatever we wanted. I’m not saying you shouldn’t plan something to do. But don’t fill every moment prior to arriving. Kids enjoy downtime too.
Let your kids do the choosing. Prior to making plans for each outing, I offered Elias and Adeline options: For our first outing, I told them, “Okay, guys, here’s what we can do. You wanna check out the Zoo or the aquarium?” The kids chose the aquarium (and Chattanooga’s aquarium is one of the best we’ve ever visited). We had a blast and they felt big and important being able to make the choices for what we would do next. I also let them choose restaurants, shopping destinations, and other excursions we experienced.
Be spontaneous whenever possible. Kids love a little spontaneity every once in a while. For instance, while on our way to ride Chattanooga’s vintage downtown carousel, Adeline said, “Daddy, can we go to that park over there?” I looked at it. And despite thinking it looked like it had been through an apocalypse or two, I said, “Sure.” And so I turned the car around and we went and played in the rundown park. But keeping our schedule open and flexible turned out to be a great way for the kids and I to create fun memories and they loved it.
All in all, our time away was a brilliant escape. We spent quality time together. We made memories. We enjoyed some quiet time. We experienced a few fun surprises.
And when we started our drive home, every one of us had a big ole grin on our faces.
Thank you to Dove Men+Care for inviting our family to stay at the Elements Treehouse.