Our Relaxing Cabin Weekend, and Some Thoughts on Kid-Free Vacations

Last weekend, Joe and I rented a cabin up in Wisconsin for a little adults-only mini-vacation. It was the first time we’ve been away overnight since Lillian was born, and it was by no means a long trip — we left on Friday afternoon and came home Sunday afternoon, during which time Lillian was in the capable care of her loving grandmother (aka my mom).

It was pretty low-key as far as vacations go. There were no big events or sightseeing tours, just the quiet beauty of forest and farmland surrounding the cabin where we stayed. In some ways, it felt like we completely left civilization — the cabin was so secluded that you had to drive through a shallow creek in order to get to it.

Wooded Rental Cabin with Creek

The narrow dirt road leading through the creek and to the cabin.

But despite being so far from civilization that there wasn’t the slightest hint of a cell phone signal, the cabin also came equipped with every comfort you could want. Like a kitchen with a full stove and refrigerator, and a flat-screen TV with a DVD player. And most surprisingly, there was even a nice fast wireless internet connection.

Top: views of the comfortable cabin interior. Bottom: my attempt to take a picture of the wifi.

The wifi turned out to be really useful, since our cell phones were useless for making calls and we couldn’t seem to get the landline phone to work. Did you know that you could make actual phone calls, to people’s phones using their phone numbers, through Gmail? I don’t think I was aware of this possibility before the cabin trip. But it was really nice to be able to call my mom just to check in that everything was going well while we were gone.

Another noteworthy aspect of the cabin was the front porch, which featured rustic style wooden furniture and a panoramic view of the forest.

The cabin’s front porch.

And when you’re staying in a cabin in the middle of the woods, it’s probably only a matter of time before some wildlife wanders by.

The deer we watched from the front porch.

One of the best things about the cabin was the hammock slung between two trees outside. It was large enough and strong enough to hold up two people, and wonderfully relaxing to lie in the shade drifting gently in the summer breeze after feasting on a big block of Wisconsin cheese.

The hammock outside the cabin.

All in all it was a nice little getaway, and even if it was only for one full day, Joe and I came home feeling relaxed and refreshed.

But moving on to the second part of this post, I wanted to talk a little bit about the whole concept of parents taking kid-free vacations — because when you read enough parenting blogs and websites, you’re bound to run into the mentality that raising a healthy well-adjusted child requires the physical presence of a parent 24/7/365.

Take for instance discussions like this one about how selfish it is for mom and dad to leave their baby to go on vacation, or this advice piece by Dr. Sears, the founder of “attachment parenting” philosophy, which seems to suggest that it would be better to take a toddler along on a trip to Africa than to leave him behind with his grandmother.

While I’m sure you could just as easily find discussions and advice pieces that swing in the other direction, in general there seems to be a lot of guilt-tripping and judgement about the One Right Way to balance parenthood and family life with your relationship with your spouse. But my personal equation is that happy relaxed parents = happy relaxed baby = happy relaxed family, and I’m fully supportive of taking a weekend on occasion to relax, recharge, and reconnect.

What do you think of kid-free and baby-free vacations? Have you ever taken one? And if so, have you faced any kind of disapproval or criticism for it? Feel free to leave your thoughts or stories in the comments.


  1. I think it’s wonderful that you two got a chance to get away by yourselves. You need to do that sometimes. It is important that you take the time to focus on your relationship as a couple. When you don’t is when you begin to drift away from one another. You two no longer communicate then, and when communication is lost, so is the marriage. Trust me. I know I’ve made that mistake twice, and that is why I make sure that Bill and I spend as much time as possible together. I will not make that mistake again!

    Kid-free vacations are fine and many times necessary. Kids need to see that strong bond between their parents because when they see that type of relationship at home, that is the kind they will seek out later in life. So enjoy adult time whenever you can. Not only is it good for your marriage, but it is also good for Lily.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts — I completely agree with your take on this issue, and you probably said it more articulately than I could have. Nurturing your relationship with your spouse is an important thing, and I think making time for dates and alone time and occasionally romantic getaways can help keep that relationship strong, which is a benefit to children in the long run. (Even if it may not seem like it at the time :)

  2. My Mom and Dad spent their honeymoon at Cloudland Canyon, near Mentone, AL. The only pictures they made were of them fishing! This was in 1928, and money was tight. All our vacations were fishing trips! VERY rustic cabins, cooking done outside over a barbecue pit and bathroom (two seater outhouse) in the woods! Seems like we always had a great time though! After we got a bit older, my brother and I would spend two weeks every summer with our grandmother (hint, hint). So our parents did have some time together, without kids. They seemed very happy, and committed to making a happy home for themselves, and for us.

    During our teen years we vacationed in Gulf Shores and Panama City, with better accommodations. There was still fishing, but the beach was an asset! We continued these beach trips every summer, along with my children in later years.

    After my Mom had passed away we took Daddy on a visit to his old home in northeast Alabama, and Dad’s sister took us to Little River Gorge, just a beautiful place. I asked my Dad why we never took a vacation there, he said, “Well, fishing’s not too good!”

    (Probably more than you wanted to know!)

    • Haha, not at all — I love reading these stories! :) It sounds like rustic cabins and fishing trips make for some great family vacations and lots of wonderful memories. And it’s fun to imagine what kind of family vacations we might take when Lily is old enough to do stuff like fishing and hiking and swimming… :)

  3. I think there are far too many “experts” willing to take advantage of natural new parent anxiety, just to make a buck. And the more they attempt to make you feel guilty for your choices (and I have seen them from opposite angles over the years), the more likely they are full o’ bull, IMO!

    And yes, a rested parent is a SANE parent, which has to beat a worn-out nutcase! And I love that cabin, woods in the mountains are my favorites.

    • Being a parenting expert seems to be a lucrative business these days, haha. I definitely agree that being rested and sane is much better than being stressed and frazzled, for everyone involved. :)

  4. This is actually something that Max and I have discussed a lot, both just between ourselves, as well as in conversations with friends who have had experiences involving travel or lack there of as children. The general consensus is that in terms of international travel our friends didnt really notice or get upset that the parents were gone off with out them until they hit the 9 to 10 year old age.

    Given Max and I want to supplement their school lessons by taking them to the places they learn about (a lot of domestic trips are in our future up and down the east coast during grade school), and my priorities re: international travel, we determined we probably would travel sans kids internationally until they were old enough to remember it.

    Also, I spent the summers with my grandparents…it strengthened family bonds not lessened them.

    • Thanks for weighing in and sharing your thoughts on this topic. I think you make a good point about age being a big factor — I can see the baby / toddler / preschooler might just be excited about hanging out with the grandparents, while the 9 or 10 year old might feel more like they’re being excluded from a fun adventure… though I imagine that it would vary to some extent from child to child and family to family. I agree about the educational potential of travel for kids that are old enough to remember, and I love that last line about strengthening family bonds from spending more time with different family members.

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