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.
Last week I had the most terrifying incident I have experienced as a parent.
We bought Ezra a Cozy Coupe Truck for his birthday (in December) and decided he was finally big enough to enjoy it. On Tuesday night, he rode in it for the first time.
And he. was. DELIGHTED. I snapped a bunch of pictures and he couldn’t stop grinning and honking the horn. We’ve never had a Cozy Coupe before, and I was almost as excited as he was. He was so cute in it!
Elias and another neighbor boy were pushing him around, while I was standing talking with a neighbor, my back to the boys.
Well, the boys decided to go play with something and left Ezra in the car, in the cul-de-sac. I had no idea that they were not with him until I heard Matthew yell, “Jess, who has the baby?” I whipped around and saw Ezra in the Cozy Coupe headed straight toward the street, down the steep hill of our cul de sac.
I screamed and started to run, harder and faster than I have in years. I was less than 2 feet from Ezra as he rolled into the street. Then the car hit the curb, flipped completely over, landed back on its wheels and started to roll down another neighbor’s yard. Ezra was holding tightly to the car’s doors and thankfully kept his little feet up and didn’t try to stop on the ground.
I got to him as he slowed to a stop near some bushes and he looked at me, bawling, “Ezra done Momma. All done car.”
As we walked back up the hill, Matthew with the car, me with Ezra, crying on my shoulder, I saw Adeline and Elias, both shaken and crying. I stayed composed, calming Ezra. As soon as we got in the house, I lost it, sobbing.
The what ifs have been with me since that night.
What if he had let go?
What if he had been hit by a car?
What if the car hadn’t completely flipped and he fell on his neck?
What if, what if, what if?
Ezra didn’t get hurt at all, which I am grateful for beyond words. He definitely hasn’t wanted to go back in that car though! He will say to us, “Ezra fall,” just out of the blue, talking about that terrifying ride.
Our neighbors have started calling him Evil Knievel. 🙂
I’ll never forget that night or how I have felt in the days after. Being a parent is terrifying sometimes, isn’t it? We are trusted with these precious kids lives and sometimes, things happen outside our control and we are helpless. It’s gut-wrenching.
Have you ever had a terrifying moment as a parent?
Filed Under: Family
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Filed Under: Uncategorized
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Disclosure: Affiliate links used in this post.