I am a mom of a five-year-old and three-year-old. I have an opportunity to go away on a long weekend on my own. I have never been away this long since they were born. I have gone on overnights with my husband while my parents watched the kids. I have never left my husband alone this long with the kids and I am afraid he may become overwhelmed. He says he will be fine. I really want to go but I am torn. What advice can you give me?
-Janette, Patch reader in Wantagh
I think it is important that we as parents do not lose ourselves in our families and family-only life. We are more than mother, father, caretaker and provider, we are individuals and we need to exercise that portion of ourselves. In order to create a healthy family dynamic, each member needs to have alone/independent time to do what interests them. This may not always translate to weekends away but smaller breaks count as well (e.g., going for a long run on a Saturday, a movie with friends or continuing education classes). It is beneficial for kids to see this as well.
When these situations arise, it gives the other family members a chance to explore new dynamics and situations. In the specific case of this week’s letter, Dad will have this opportunity to connect more directly with the kids. This will be a wonderful time for each of you to see that things will go fine, and don’t worry, everyone will survive without you. You will also learn to let go and give them the opportunity to grow in their independence of you.
Your husband and children will be fine. Okay, he may not choose to stick to your usual routine but rest assured the important basics will be covered, including clothes, shelter, food, water and potty breaks, as well as special bonding time. Okay, they may spend Saturday in their pajamas, forget the baths, have pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but they may also have special adventures and late night snuggling before beddy-bye time too.
When my husband is away, I know I do these types of things to make the time he is away more bearable for us all. After all, aren’t these the moments that we adults cherish from our own childhood?
If you and your husband agree ahead of time, you and he can create a plan, including a (possibly) revised schedule, stock the refrigerator with special treats and check out some books and DVDs from your local library before the big weekend. You can even arrange for a play date with relatives, or hire a sitter for a few hours so dad can have a bit of a break.
I recently went away, for a long weekend, to the New York State Organization of Mothers of Twins Club state convention in Syracuse, NY. Before I left, we stocked the refrigerator, borrowed a couple of movies from a neighbor and I kissed the hubby and kiddies goodbye. I did not worry about a schedule. I knew they would all be just fine. They did not do everything the same way I would have but that is to be expected. They went to a new park, emailed me lots of pictures and the kids had lots of fun stories to share when I returned.
Go, have a long weekend away. When you return, you will all have a renewed appreciation for one another.
(Editor's Note: The opinions in this article are those of Parents “R” Talking. The opinions are not medical advice. Always consult your pediatrician about any changes you are contemplating.)