Our life has been such a transition over the past year.  Not only did we have a PCS, but I also went back to work full time, for the first time in a long while.  We are thankfully on shore duty, but as many of you know, shore duty doesn’t mean the service member will be home all the time. Life has been pretty hectic. 

This was the first summer I had to work full time since having kids. I have always been and love to be active with my kids. However, with working full time, I did not have that option anymore.  Planning for the summer and what to do with the kids was becoming so stressful. 

We live in an area where there are an over abundance of summer camps available, but expensive is an understatement.  And my kids didn’t like the idea of being at camp all day every day.  They like their chill time at home.  After much thought and talking with others, we came up with a plan for summer.

Right when school let out, we planned a great family vacation to the beach for one week and enjoyed every moment of it.  I was then able to get a sitter for two weeks who happened to have a daughter the same age as mine, and they loved playing with each other every day. I also have two boys. 

After those two weeks, for the first time ever, we sent our kids to their grandparents in Chicago for almost a month.

Thinking about sending your kids away to their grandparents next summer? Let me explain how we did it.

The Logistics

When I tell people we sent our kids away to Chicago, the first question I get asked is how did we get them there?  Did we fly them, drive them, or put them on a train?  My kids ages are 7, 10 and 11, and I am not ready to put them on a plane on their own yet.  We live in D.C., so we decided to drive and meet my parents half way. 

I booked a hotel somewhere in Ohio which was about a five and half hour drive for both of us.  It worked out well because we were able to have dinner and breakfast with my parents before kissing the kids goodbye, praying for strength for my parents, and hoping they knew what they were getting themselves into.

Then, we drove our separate ways. Yes, my husband and I enjoyed the quiet drive. On the other side — to bring my kids back to us — my parents rented a van and drove them all the way back, stopping at the same hotel halfway. My parents stayed with us for another week and then flew back to Chicago.

The Benefits

The benefits for the kids and their grandparents: This was the longest time my kids and my parents had time together without me around.  My parents had a lot of fun time planned for them and some one-on-one time as well. My parents were able to get to know the kids better and more so as individuals and the same for the kids.

Although my parents still managed to spoil them with extra treats, this time spent was not about getting gifts but more so about quality time. 

My kids came home talking about all the fun they had with their grandparents. They never complained or asked to come home, and my parents never called to cut the trip short. Yes my daughter cried once on Facetime because she missed us, but that is to be expected. Everyone had a good time. My parents remembered how exhausting kids are but also had the patience to share life lessons. I think this is so important because so many times kids listen better to their grandparents than they do to their parents.

The benefits for me and my husband: We were still busy with work every day. But I enjoyed not having the extra stress of figuring out every meal for my “starving” children and not having to continually clean up little messes. My husband and I celebrated our 15th anniversary during that time and were able to have uninterrupted quality time with each other every day.

It was nice to hang out with my best friend and not have to rush through whatever we were doing. We also were able to work together and complete many little projects around the house.

We also saved over two thousand dollars from not having to send the kids to camp! We didn’t miss the noise, but we did miss the daily hugs from our little ones more than anything else.

We were so happy to see each other when they returned and thankfully my parents mentioned doing it again next summer!    

If you have never sent your kiddos to their grandparents for a few weeks, and you have the opportunity to do so, go for it!  I definitely think its good for everyone.