Planning getaway without kids can be a challenge

Friday - 2/15/2013, 12:29pm EST

Associated Press

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) -- In 12 years, my husband and I have had two vacations without our daughter. Once, we drove 200 miles to drop her at her godparents; the other time, her grandfather flew 850 miles on an $800 plane ticket to spell us.

Oh, how we envy parents who casually plan romantic getaways sans kids.

"A lot of things have to go right for parents to be able to go away together, leave their kids home and feel comfortable while they're away," said Stephanie Newman, a New York-based psychologist and author.

Newman, 48, herself the mother of two, encourages couples to take time for themselves. Nevertheless, she hears during therapy sessions from parents who have a hard time making that a reality.

"It's a social issue," she said. More women work outside the home; grandparents might not have traditional retirements; kids are heavily scheduled, making it more difficult for someone to step in, and our increasingly mobile society weakens our support network.

Still, we're parents, so by definition, we're resourceful. We might not do it often, but once in a while, we beg, bribe, plead, pay and juggle to find childcare for that important couple's vacation.

Nicole Reisfeld went through a Herculean effort so that she and her husband could travel from Colorado to Maine last year to celebrate her parents' 50th wedding anniversary. With their daughter at college, she had their 16-year-old son, Ben, to plan for during their six-day trip.

After school, Ben took the bus home, where a family friend picked him up after work so he could spend the night at her house. On weekends, Ben stayed home and an adult neighbor slept over. One day, the school was holding exams at a different location, so a third friend served as chauffeur.

"Added complications were that the (school) schedule kept changing so I had to keep revising the plan, and that Ben's cell phone was no longer working so I had to get him a new phone and number the night before we left -- after I had worked from 9 to 6 that day," said Reisfeld, 49, a speech pathologist. "Making all the arrangements were exhausting, but the trip was wonderful and worth all the trouble."

Even those with nannies and regular sitters face challenges when trying to leave town.

New York theatrical manager Nina Essman and her husband had only spent one night away since the eldest of their two children was born 9 years earlier. They wanted to go alone to a friend's wedding in Florida.

Essman, 45, was concerned about imposing on their longtime nanny, who only works weekdays. To win some goodwill, Essman sent the nanny to her native Trinidad for Christmas. The nanny agreed to the overnight when Essman later asked, though she also received overtime.

That was two years ago and Essman and her husband haven't had another night alone since.

Some parents in a bind will even hire a stranger through an agency, said Candi Wingate, president of the nationwide Nannies4Hire.

It's always best for the nanny to first meet the children and learn the schedule, though sometimes, "If the children are older, then some parents
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