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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mama Bear Moxie: Reconnect on kid-free vacation

By Kristina Phelan For The Spokesman-Review

My husband and I will be celebrating our 15th anniversary this summer. It seems like a long time, but in the scope of life, it doesn’t seem long at all. We are quickly nearing the year when I will be married him for half of my life so far.

Over the course of our marriage, we have taken a few vacations without the kiddos in tow. We’ve taken an adults only vacation about once every five years. For our fifth anniversary, we went on a road trip to a little vacation town in Washington. For our 10th , we decided to celebrate big with a trip to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica. And we just got back from our 15-year trip: a Caribbean cruise.

Whenever I am planning one of these vacations, I am always a mix of emotions: excited to get some away time but also equally sad that I’ll be away from my babies. It’s the cruel flow of emotions that every mom out there can understand. I spend my days leading up to the trip thinking about sleeping in, hours upon hours of reading my favorite book in silence and staying up late while sipping a cocktail. As much good as that always sounds, fear tends to creep into my psyche about a week before the trip. I make sure that our wills are in order and I have a contingency plan on how to survive if the cruise ship went down like the Titanic. Even though the fear can sometimes grip me to the point of canceling the entire vacation, I still force myself to push through the worry and go.

Because my marriage is important to me.

Spending nine days alone with your spouse after raising kids for the past 13 years is a luxury. Having this much alone time acts like a reset button on our marriage. We learned more about each other (even though I thought I knew everything about him) and made sure to do a check-in of each of our kids and how they are doing. We also spent time talking about our hopes and dreams and frustrations of life. That coupled with sleeping in like college kids and reading two novels in a week made for a pretty amazing vacation.

I have met a lot of friends who have been married as long as I have and have never gone on a vacation with their spouse alone. It’s hard to muster up the funds, and the time, to schedule a vacation, but it is worth it. Having a break from our parenting allowed us to really connect as two people who can sometimes drift apart in the trenches of parenthood. Going away with my husband on vacation allows me to come back to the entire reason why we have this crazy life in the first place: because we love each other. Before the kids, it was just us. After the kids leave, it will be just us. I want to make sure that I protect that love and marriage so that one day I don’t look up and wonder who this guy is in my house.

So, if you haven’t ever taken a vacation with your spouse, I really encourage you to do so. It doesn’t have to be long, maybe just a couple of nights, but be sure to make a list of luxurious non-kid things that you don’t usually get to do. Carve out time from your schedule and pinch pennies until you can make a getaway happen. Fight the guilt and leave the kids with grandparents that will spoil them rotten. Fight for your marriage by being selfish in this area of life. You’ll be so glad you did.

Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois. www.mamabear Visit her website at

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