What a week long kid-free holiday taught me about parenting

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

I'm a big believer in an adults-only getaway. As much as I love my children, ages 4 and 7, and as travel adept as they've recently become, even surviving a six-hour flight delay like tiny bosses, sometimes mummy needs to get in bed and know that she's not going to wake up with two additional bodies spooning her.

Not only has the occasional night or few days away helped me maintain my personal sanity, it's also succeeded in getting my marriage back on track when it's gone off the rails, and made it stronger even when we're in a good spot.

The longest my husband and I have ever left our kids is four nights, but now that they're both in school most days and are more independent and non-tantrumy when they're home, we decided that we were all ready to take our kid-free trips to the next level: a full week away.

And then, before we could talk ourselves out of it — and before we even asked our parents if they'd be willing to watch our children for that amount of time — we went ahead and booked flights like the risk takers we'd like to pretend we still are.

Here's what I've learned about planning time away from my kids: in theory, it sounds like a lot of work for everyone. For mums, there are schedules to be recorded, carpools to figure out, fridges to fill, and childcare to arrange. And, hey, as a person who spent more than an hour this very morning writing out a four-page comprehensive daily schedule for the grandparents who will be watching my kids, I get that leaving for a week is a big ask for them.

Carting my kids around to school and their activities, feeding them three meals and infinite snacks daily, doing massive quantities of laundry, and begging them to brush their teeth is now second nature to me, but to my retired parents, it doesn't come as easily.

If I hypothetically asked my kids' grandparents if they'd be willing to babysit for a full week, they'd probably hesitate, which would make me hesitate, too, and that's why I went the sneaky route. Initially, I asked both sets of grandparents if they were free the week we were planning our trip, but didn't tell them how long we'd be gone.

By the time I asked if they'd split up the childcare duties (each set will watch the kids for almost exactly three-and-a-half days), revealing that oh, by the way, we'd already booked our flights, they kind of had to say yes.

And in reality, everyone will survive. Maybe my son will be a few minutes late to preschool and his lunch won't be packed specifically to his preferences. Maybe my daughter will wear the wrong shoes to soccer practice and forget to return her school library books. And yes, everyone will be tired by the time we get home.

But they also will have bonded in a way that I know is important to everyone, and I get the adult trip that makes me a better mum, wife, and overall human being. And if things go well? Well, let's just say I have a 12-day European vacation in mind for next year, and I may or may not figure out childcare before I book it.

This story originally appeared on POPSUGAR Australia, read it here.