Raising Lexington: Taking Time Away from the Kids
Getting way from your kids can be as rewarding for them as it is for you.
Parents spend a lot of time planning activities for their kids and living in New England allows for many opportunities for day trips, weekend excursions and even week long stays.
We have the ocean and the mountains well within reach and some fun lakes in between. But sometimes parents need time away from their kids to reconnect, recharge and rejuvenate. Date night is all well and good, but every once in a while we need an overnight -- or even a few days away from our children to take a deep breath.
It isn’t selfish. It isn’t mean. And it certainly should not take six years like it did for me and my husband.
So why did it take us so long to finally have a weekend away from our two children? In hind sight, and aside from the obvious lack of family in our area, I think I just didn’t trust anyone to watch the kids overnight.
There, I said it. I didn’t trust anyone else to take care of my relatively easy kids. At least I am honest. So what could I have done differently to allow for more trust?
Looking back, I would have taken baby steps to get my kids and I used to having a sitter on a regular basis. I would have made a real effort to reach out to friends and babysitting websites to meet some of the very trustworthy babysitters that I know are out there. I know because my friends are using them and very happily going on an overnight trip here and there.
I could have had them over once a week for a short time, then extended the time for a full day and then a local overnight. Eventually, the sitter knows your kids so well that going away overnight isn’t much more complicated.
Another plan I could have embraced is sharing sitters. Many would like to help out with kids full-time, but can’t get the hours from one family. With some ground rules and schedule communication, I think this could have worked for me and several of my mom friends.
And then there is the realization that there is more than one right way to take care of a child. “My way or the highway” isn’t a good way of thinking if you want to get away and be able to trust someone else to care for your kids.
That brings me to the very real benefits of parents being able to get away for a short time.
The most obvious benefit of the weekend escape is to save your sanity. Raising kids is tough work and it can do a real number on your marriage. Parents need time away from the temper tantrums, the he said/she said and the whining. A dinner out just doesn’t cut it sometimes. Waking up at the crack of dawn without a race car being driven up and down my back would be one nice bonus, but waking up whenever I wanted would be a real treat. It’s also nice to forget about schedules and do something impromptu.
The thought of a long, uninterrupted conversation with my husband makes my day. I think I actually know what he does for a living now.
A less obvious, but very real benefit of parents taking time away from their kids is the sense of security kids can get from knowing Mom and Dad can go away and things in their life will remain the way their know it.
I got my kids involved in the trip preparations. They were involved in planning their menu for the weekend, deciding on their activities and getting the house clean. I showed them the schedule, asked them to help out when we were away and promised them a fun souvenir from our trip. The kids were very excited and loved being empowered to set up their weekend and show their grandparents around the town.
In hind sight, my husband and I could have done this years ago, but I didn’t set us up for success and I have learned from that. Going forward, I am now working on having a regular babysitter that the kids can get used to and build a relationship with knowing she will be able to stay with them overnight.
My husband and I are just back from two nights away from the kids and feel great about our decision to do it, the kids experience and our promise to make it a regular occasion.