How Cheryl Hickey Survived, Even Kind of Loved, Her First Holiday Away Without Kids

Thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, we have all heard of conscious uncoupling—but what about conscious coupling?

Let me explain. My girlfriends and I were sitting around one day as our kids ran around us playing. We were talking about having real alone time away with our partners and husbands. I suddenly realized I had nothing to add to the conversation because my husband and I had never really done that. I can hear your gasps. When I revealed this to the girls, they swung into action and quickly said: “That’s it! What’s the plan?” I started to sweat, and within five minutes, I realized there was no going back.


Now let me be clear. We had gone on dinner dates. And back when my son was one, we did an overnight at the Four Seasons for my husband’s birthday. We were away for less than 24 hours and were only 15 mins away from our house. Bold, right?

I have been away for work numerous times, but hubs always held it down! He had asked me once or twice to go on an “us” getaway—but quickly realized it was a big “no go” for me!

Let me explain what I was feeling. I waited until late in the game to have kids, and I genuinely love being with them when I am not at work. They fill me up, they make me happy, even in my sleep-deprived state. Besides, who would they go to if they woke up at night? What if they were sick?


The idea of both of us being away from them for more than one night made me too stressed and uncomfortable. That is until my girlfriends asked, “How long can that go on?” I knew they were right. It was time for me to grow up and get over myself.

My girlfriends offered to come over—the bunch of them—with their kids and have a giant sleepover with our kids. I immediately stopped my oldest as he was running by and asked what he thought of the idea. His response floored me. He said, “Will everybody sleep over and can I stay up late?” I said, “Yes,” and he said, “Cool,” and took off. That was it? Now I had to be as bold as he was.

Covert coupling began. I booked a trip and hid the details from hubby for a few weeks. The night before we took off, my girlfriends and sister showed up. Hubby was confused, so I sent him on a scavenger hunt through the house picking up clues. At the end of it, the kids told him we were going to Punta Cana for four days—without them. (I couldn’t do a week away. Baby steps, baby steps!) My husband was so floored that I had thought to do something so special for just us. He wandered around the house for the rest of the evening, saying, “Is this real? I’m so proud of you, babe!”


The next day we took off before the sun came up. Yes, there were tears. And yes, I felt sick to my stomach—until I saw the look on hubs’ face and realized that conscious coupling really is a thing. I held his hand at the airport, and it felt like we were boyfriend and girlfriend again. I liked it a lot. Life is about stepping outside our comfort zones. My zone won’t look like your zone, and your zone won’t look like my zone, but that’s ok.

For the next four days, hubs and I spent the days swimming and having cocktails, just enjoying being a couple, not Mom and Dad.

Now here is the weird part. On the last night at 3 a.m., I woke up with an anxiety attack. Like many of you, I get these from time to time. I couldn’t understand why, when I was going home the next day. When it passed, I realized how big those four days were for me. The anxiety was partly my growing pains and partly the realization that my kids will have grown, too. Now they would understand the world doesn’t fall apart when Mom and Dad go away for a bit.


When we got home, the kids were excited to see us. My girlfriends did a fantastic job of making this seem “normal” and, at the same time, making it a special moment in time for my kids and theirs. Of course, our kids missed us, but they also had a blast with the other kids and saw how much closer it made hubs and I. This makes us all better as a family.

Advice from Cheryl

If you are just like me and can’t imagine going away without the kids, here are some tips.

  • Take a short getaway from Friday to Monday.
  • Create a massive slumber party for your kids while you are away.
  • Ask a few girlfriends with kids to help out. Don’t put it on just one friend or relative.
  • Create a “can do” list for the kids, which gets them excited. Can eat some junk. Can stay up later. Fun things that work for your kids.
  • I bought a present for each kid and hid it so I had a souvenir for them when we got back.
  • Hug your girlfriends tight!
Published on: Vitalize Magazine

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