This post is the third in a series about leaving your kids when you go out of town. To get caught up, read the first post and the second, and consider subscribing to my feed via RSS or email so you are sure to catch the whole series!
So you’re feeling a little guilty or worried or sad about leaving your children behind while you take off for that conference or concert or coconut-oil-laden resort getaway. Do you need a pep talk to help you feel better about your trip? Happy to oblige!
Here are five reasons why Mom taking off on a trip can be GOOD for kids–and, in fact, the whole family:
1) It gives Dad the chance to step up to the plate–and hit a home run. Unless he stays home with them while you work, Dad probably rarely gets to spend whole days and nights as the sole responsible party. And too often, we don’t trust dads to be able to get it right, so we put off leaving them in charge far too long. He might not do things the same way you would, but chances are good your baby’s daddy’s no dummy. My husband Jon is a very competent dad…but he didn’t become that way automatically. Just like me, he needed practice to become good at wrangling the kids, remembering appointments, and figuring out which clothing size each child wears. He becomes even more competent and confident every time he has the chance to take over for a while. Which in turn allows me to relax a bit, because I understand that the family actually can function without my micro-managing every second of the day.
2) It’s good for kids to see Mom having a vibrant outside life. Whether your trip is about friends, work, or a hobby or passion, it’s healthy for your children to understand that you are a multifaceted human being who doesn’t actually live solely to grocery shop, turn over half her earnings to pay for ballet and soccer camp, or slice apples into much-more-palatable eighths. They aren’t likely to take notice when they’re little, but if you keep demonstrating that you’re a whole person deserving of happiness and fulfillment, the lesson will stick–and hopefully serve as a small reminder when they are teenagers that, actually, the world doesn‘t revolve around them. (We can hope, right?)
3) It gives everyone an excuse to relax standards a bit. If your house is anything like mine, it’s Mom who keeps everything running like a well-oiled (though perhaps sometimes rather tightly-wound) machine. But everyone needs a break from the daily grind once in a while, and that includes the kids. Under somebody else’s watch, they can eat questionable cereal for breakfast, stay in their pajamas all day, or sleep on the living-room floor. They get all the fun of relaxing the rules, and you don’t have to be there to witness it. (Just request that all evidence, including any Sugar Snappin’ Krispies embedded in the carpet fibers, is attended to before you get home.)
4) You have to keep your well filled to be a happy, healthy and effective mom. Whether it’s letting your hair down a little, sleeping in a big, comfy bed all alone, dressing up for the first time in a year, or relishing in conversation with other women you really connect with, Mom, you need a chance every now and then to do things just for yourself. The good news is you’ll come home refreshed, relaxed and revitalized…and that’s good for everyone, especially your children.
5) If Dad’s going away too, it gives your children a chance to bond with other members of your “village.” Imagine how delighted you’ll be one day when your son or daughter finally loosen that grip a little and allow you a whole weekend to enjoy the grandkids on your own terms. And think back to when you were little: didn’t staying with special relatives or family friends rank up there with some of your fondest memories? Kids benefit from being allowed to form strong, loving attachments with other people, and we benefit from being able to lean on those people when parenting gets tough.
Feeling a little better? Good! I know you might still be conflicted, so look out Monday for a post on making the trip easier on everyone–including you!
Can you think of any other reasons why Mom getting away can be good for the family?