During the Easter Holidays that have just gone by my two children went to stay with my parents for four days and it was a huge milestone for us all as a family. My husband and I are the type of parents that ensure our two young children are always with one of us, at their playschool or with one of our parents. We just don’t do baby sitters or let our children be anywhere without an immediate family member.
Maybe once a year my husband and I go out for a date on our wedding anniversary or if we are feeling especially adventurous maybe even Valentines Day too. In these cases my husband’s mother will look after our children.
Last year my daughter went to stay with my parents but she was upset the first night and wanted to come home. Being about 350km away they could only bring her home the following day. We felt my son was too young to be so far away from us at that time so he stayed at home.
We decided that this Easter both children (three and five years old) may be old enough to have a holiday at my parent’s farm and perhaps it would be easier for them being together, considering how close they are.
My parents arrived at my house on the first Tuesday of the school holidays, slept over and then left early on the Wednesday morning with the kids. The plan was that if my kids or my parents couldn’t handle it I would be on stand-by to drive to the farm at any moment, otherwise I would come to the farm on the Sunday to join my children and then spend a few days there with my family.
This would mean four whole days and four whole nights alone without children! It was a combination of oh so exciting and oh so scary. Having my children so far from me and my husband is not a comfortable thought, even though I trust my parents completely.
Thankfully my kids had an amazing time, as did my parents even though they were understandably exhausted by the end of the holiday.
Now while they were having a lovely time on the farm I was left all alone all day and my husband and I had not only four nights to spend together but also an entire day on the weekend.
I have to be honest here, I loved it!
Here are some things I learned being childless for four days for the first time since my five year old daughter was born:
Slow Down Mommy!
The first thing I did as soon as my parents left with my kids on the Wednesday morning was to go shopping. I got to Pick n Pay and I was racing down the aisles with my trolley… it took a while for it to sink in that I had NO reason to rush.
My shopping is usually either squeezed in just before I pick my kids up from playschool or I shop with my kids just after picking them up. Neither one of these options is great because if I go before I collect them I am cutting my work day from 4-5 hours to 3-4 hours. Running a business in 4-5 hours a day is not easy as it is, and losing an hour for shopping is painful. So I leave as little time as possible to shop and when I get there I mean business.
Talking about painful… shopping with kids is awful and it takes ten times longer than if I went without children, but sometimes (often) I just cant make it before I pick them up. This also means a rush because I have to get in and out of the shop as fast as possible before they start fussing. In addition to that they are both hungry for their lunch and my son needs to have his afternoon sleep or I have more problems.
Being in a constant rush is not really a comfortable place to be and I never realized how I am in constant high speed mode until I realized I was literally running down the aisles in Pick n Pay for no good reason.
Over the next few days there were plenty occasions where I realized how rushed I always am and it has made me realize that I need to find a way to slow down. Yes things need to get done, but it can’t be good for me to rush everything I do.
You Deserve A Rest Mommy!
Yes I knew I needed a rest, but it was just one of those things that I could never get and so I never thought about it much. Becoming a mom was such a shock to my system.
My freedom was taken away not in the blink of an eye exactly, more like a 42 hour labor. It is not like I want to go clubbing or have all the freedom in the world. I just want some simple things like being able to poo on my own, in privacy, without a child trying to wipe my bum.
I also miss being able to just get up and walk out the door to do something I feel like doing on the spur of the moment.
Talking about shopping… about 2 months ago I was running late (again) to fetch my kids and I needed just a loaf of bread. I felt I couldn’t stop on the way to fetch my kids because then I would be even later. So I fetch my children and go to the shop to get my loaf of bread. It took 45 minutes in total from parking the car to pulling out. Part of this excursion involved my three year old son army crawling the entire way.
By the time we got home my children were starving, my son was overtired and I was exhausted and oh so grumpy. Those are the moments that everything goes pear shaped over something so small.
These things are big time tiring.
One of the most amazing feelings for me was cooking supper when I wanted, not on a schedule and then washing just two plates after dinner… and then waking up in the morning to a house that was still clean.
OMG I forgot what that felt like! There were no dishes in the sink, no dirty floors… and it stayed like that for four days.
Imagine that, cleaning the house and it stays clean for longer than five minutes? What an absolute pleasure!
Thea from Cupcakenism wrote an awesome guest post for my website about how when her kids away she landed up having to do their chores. Yes my kids get chores too but they are little still so it usually takes more effort for me to get them to do their chores and very often I have to redo them anyway since they are still learning.
The point is that damn, this mommy business is a demanding job and until you taste just a little bit of mommy freedom you may not quite understand quite how demanding it is.
I Miss My Husband
I don’t know how it goes in your home, but for us it seems like my kids want to keep my husband and I apart. If I so much as say one word to my husband my kids start interrupting me and demand my full attention. I literally cannot complete a sentence.
Then once the kids are finally asleep in bed my husband tries to talk to me, but I now have some time to get things done and if I have any energy left I am putting it into work, or doing household chores. If I am not busy I am usually brain dead from exhaustion and can’t hold much of a conversation.
I know that we need to spend time together to have a healthy marriage. But when exactly do you find that time? Yes I need to make the time… I hear that part. The thing is that you cannot make time from no time can you?
And we do spend time together, but it is not usually a nice, relaxed happy time. It is time we have “made” for each other after he has spent a long day at work and I have had my patience as a mother pushed to the extreme trying to acquire a loaf of bread from the shop.
So we went out on a dinner date and it was awesome. We knew we didn’t have to rush home and we also knew that when we got home there wouldn’t be any kids waking up.
The next night when my hubby got home he found me all relaxed and happy instead of just having battled it out for two hours with my kids while trying to cook supper. We had a conversation over dinner that was a little more interesting than “please pass the salt”.
It reminded me that I quite enjoy spending time alone with my husband – we totally reconnected during this time and I believe every married couple with small children desperately need this. It made me realize that I must find the time, even when it appears it is not possible.
So Now What?
My kids loved going to their grandparents and my parents loved having them. I have to admit that I enjoyed every minute of my kids being away. I love them dearly but I need some time off every now and then.
Sending my kids off for a few days was a raging success all around and now I cannot wait for the next school holidays to arrive. Its not that I am a bad mother, but I had forgotten when it felt like to be human for a while instead of this super hero called mom!