About six months ago my husband and I were offered some discounted nights of accommodation through my mother's travel share.
We initially tried to arrange time to use it as a family in Melbourne, and use while our son was having an operation, so that we could have some comfortable space for him to recover. But we couldn't find a date that suited us.
We didn't want to go elsewhere, because we've done a lot of travel over the last 12 months and have smaller trips planned for the next little while. Truth be told, we could have easily forfeited these two nights and the total of $50 that it cost us.
But it was at the end of a long week where we'd had the kids home for a lot of that time, we'd been feeling a lot like groundhog day was rolling around each morning, despite all the tips and strategies that we put into our daily life so that we feel refreshed when we wake.
It had still reached a point where we needed something more. We needed a break, we needed a refresh. And so enter the staycation.
I heard about having a staycation from a friend on Facebook. It looked like she had taken day times off work while her children were at school, and she travelled in her own city like a tourist would. Seeing the sights, eating at the restaurants she hadn't been to before and generally just having time as a couple with her partner without having the kids around. The benefit of that was being able to see her kids in the evening, staying at home and not incurring the costs of flights or accommodation.
But it got me thinking. We have this incredible opportunity to have two nights of accommodation in a provider that was actually based in Tasmania as well. So we discussed it and realised that it was exactly what we were looking for. We could have used it that week, but obviously we had to book for the future. It aligned perfectly with me finishing the biggest project that I've ever completed in my life, my PhD.
Time for celebration.
The PhD was submitted, my husband's projects had hit huge milestones, and we were all set to celebrate. My mother had the kids for the night and we went out, in our own Hobart town, to celebrate.
We had lunch. We spent the afternoon pottering about our city and surrounding suburbs, and getting Kahuna massages. We walked the beach alone. We read books, quietly. And for longer than three minutes at a time during the daylight hours!
That night we drove back to our accommodation, we showered, we got ready slowly, and we were relaxed. We dressed up (this doesn't happen often these days...) and we went out for an amazing dinner, and an amazing and inspiring movie, and we came home in our own time. We slept all night in a comfortable bed, and we woke up when we felt like it. HEAVEN!
We had a slow breakfast at a local cafe and then pottered for the rest of the day, including a beautiful lunch at another new restaurant.
24 hours after leaving our kids with my Mum we came home and joined them for afternoon tea.
Here's what I learned in that 24 hour period.
1. As a couple you deserve to have time alone together.
There is something incredibly special about those conversations that you have when you're not talking about nappies, you're not talking about washing, you're not talking about what's for dinner tomorrow night.
What we talked about was something that we revisit every year. We talked about our own personal values, we talked about our family values, we talked about future travel, and we talked about what we feel like our vision for our lives is, for now and for the future. These are huge conversations that change your relationship by allowing you to see exactly where you want to go together. And as a family, but also alone. And to share that with your partner, it gives you amazing depth to your relationship.
2. Our kids need time to develop those beautiful grandparent relationships.
They had fun, they got to snuggle with their Nonnie, and my grandmother, their Gigi. They got to have ice cream as a treat for after dinner. They got to play with toys that weren't their normal toys. They developed the amazing connection they have with other members of their family that only come from having that time in the evening. Not when we normally bundle them in the car and take them home to put them to bed.
So not only was it an amazing connection for my husband and I, but it was an amazing time for connection between the kids and their family.
3. Refreshing the love you have for where you live.
You save money, because you don't have to get on a plane. You don't necessarily have to pay for accommodation, but we had our bonus so that was an easy decision for us. But we could have just taken the days off work and treated our day times as tourists in our own city. It's taught us that there are things that we really want to build into our weekends. One of our family values had been, always, and continues to be, adventure. So it's shown us even more so how we can be adventurous in our own town, or our own state, or just the surrounding area that's easy to get to in a day.
But here's what the biggest take home for me from our 'staycation' together.
4. It is important to put effort into planning special moments together (however small)
We watched a special movie, we ate special food, we treated ourselves to memorable experiences that we will remember over the course of our relationship and our family life. We gave ourselves variety, we reconnected.
And now with the coming weeks and months I'm sure of the everyday, of the chores, of the washing, of the cooking food, we know that we're on the same page. We know where we're going, we know where we're planning holidays.
All of those things came from that 24 hours, and now they're a regular event on our calendar for the rest of this year. It allowed us time to plan more adventure with our families. We came back better parents to happier kids.
A staycation in our home town, as a couple for 24 hours? A raging success and time for us to feel renewed in our relationship, and family life.
Next one booked for June 17!