I left my first child, off and on much of the weekend, for the first time when he was 6-weeks old. I left my second child for up-to 5-6 hours at a time to go to NFL games with my husband when he was just 2-months old. My point here is: I leave my children.
Meet our babysitter. One of my favorite humans who ever lived:
Let’s dig in deeper here: you should know I really love my children. I think they are the greatest children of all time, and I want more. I LOVE HAVING CHILDREN! My kids fulfill my life’s purpose, they complete our family, and I love watching them grow and learn and interact. It is my greatest privilege.
And, it’s because I love my children that I leave them from time to time. When I had my first son, I decided to leave him with a sitter so that he would learn from a very young age to be flexible when his parents left him. I hoped that he would learn that, yes, I will leave, but I will always come back. That’s one thing that was really important to me as a new mom, I did not want a baby that couldn’t stand being away from me.
Now however, I leave my children to put my marriage first and to give myself some time alone. It’s important to the dynamic of our family that our kids know that it’s me and their dad, as a unit, who come first. I want them to know that life does not revolve around them. It never will and if we set that tone for them now, they will be disappointed (and disappointing people) their whole lives.
My marriage comes first. If it’s broken up top, the rest of the family body won’t work. I want my kids to see that marriage is a fun, lifelong partnership between best friends. I want them to see their dad love me, but also leave me to do things that he loves to do. I want them to see me love their dad, but also take time for friendships and leave the family every now and then to do things I love. Leaving every now and then is okay.
Why do I like to be away from my kids? Because I think it’s good for them to see their mom and dad fulfilled and happy. I want them to see us loving each other, but also allowing one another to pursue things that we love individually. We are in fact raising individuals. And I hope my individuals can be passionate people who know what taking care of yourself and your spouse means to a marriage, both together and separately. So, yes, I like to be away from my kids; in fact, I’d say it’s a priority.
What say you? Do you think it is important to make time for yourself and your spouse away from your children?
I applaud you and say a big YES to your thought process and reasoning and I truly believe more women should follow suit. My husband and I did the same thing and our kids are now 22 and 20 and they have told us how much they appreciate and can see the difference in our marriage compared to other marriages they see of friends. They have said how they can see the difference between being independent and not feeling suffocated by us as parents. They have said they felt and feel loved in regards to that decision. They have said it was and still is a great example to them that we put our marriage first. Bravo on this post. I couldn’t agree more.
I am on the opposite endof the spectrum in that I never leave my children. Well, almost never. My husband and I have not had a night to ourselves since our eldest was born, over seven years ago. We have family nearby that they could stay with but have chosen not to. Yet. It will happen one day but it is currently not on our priority list. Our marriage, however, is a priority. I do not believe that the two are mutually exclusive. We recognize that our kids are only young for such a short time and have committed to establishing a firm foundation or trust with them by being there nearly all the time. My kids are happy and well adjusted and have no attachment issues (well the youngest is not even two yet so his need for me is higher than his 7 and 4 year old brothers) and are very independent. My husband and I are closer and more in love than ever. My kids know that we love each other and our home is a secure and stable place. So while I understand that some feel the best way to enhance their marriage is to do so without children, I wanted to let people know that it is not a necessity to a great marriage.
On another note, we also feel bedsharing and extended breastfeeding are the best choice for our family, which people say are intimacy killers. Our marriage is still growing stronger every day. And the same applies to the large majority of the other families I know who parent similarly.
Tessa:: Thanks so much for sharing another perspective and letting us know what works for your family! We love that our community has moms with different experiences and perspectives to share encouraging words! On another note, Happy World Breastfeeding Week!
Thank you!!!! Just last week I was out of state for work. Based on observations of others I was starting to feel that maybe I missed some sort of emotion in the gene pool because I value time away whether I’m away with my husband or by myself. I want my family to be flexible and learn how to be apart. I also love my family to pieces.
It’s all about balance, don’t you think? We all know what’s best for our families, and we all have different opinions on what’s important to us and how to get there! I hope you enjoyed a nice cozy bed on your travels! 🙂
You made a very valid point that a lot of new parents (and old ones too) need to know. I wish when I had my daughter someone would of told me it was okay to take time for self and marriage. I didn’t have a good example growing up for how it should be and went to far on the scale the opposite way. But it really is truth – if it’s broken at the top any level below that is messed up as well.
Thank you for sharing your perspective! We are leaving our 6.5 month old for our first overnight date. She will be with my family and I’m working today on getting centered to not let my nervousness get the best of me. My husband and I need this time and it helps to hear success stories!
Oh, I hope you had fun! The first overnight is always so nerve-wracking! I think my son was about that age when we did our first overnight and I was in tears! But it’s good for the kids and especially you and your husband. I bet you did great!
I love that sentence, “it’s good for kids to learn how to occupy themselves.” Sometimes we have our kids way too scheduled, when it’s up to them – they don’t know what to do! Such good points – everyone’s circumstances are very different.
I agree totally! I am SUCH a better momma when I make time for myself and my marriage. I have more patience and grace for my littles when I am personally fulfilled.
Amen to that! I always know when I’m getting that burned out feeling that it is time to give MYSELF some time! Thanks for the comment Rhonda!
Lauren, this is a great point, and I agree that time away is important for both parents and their children. As you said in your author’s note, this is not always easy for some people. We had family to help, but as our son fell deeper into special needs for a while, it was very difficult to leave him with anyone. The few times we did get away, we saw very plainly how important it was to do so.
I would say for those still struggling with this to try to establish routines in the home that give everyone their private time. Quality over quantity — spend quality time with your kids, but remember that you don’t have to spend every waking moment engaging them. It’s good for kids to learn how to occupy themselves too. A shower, a mini nap, a coffee break on the deck — set timers and have a rule that no one can bother you. Giving your kids the same kind of privilege (free time without disturbance) can help them respect yours.
On a side note, it can also be hard for people who’ve either experienced or have been close to someone who was molested. I knew a child that was hurt, and it completely destroyed my confidence and security in leaving my innocent (and socially delayed) child with anyone. It’s important to find resources for rebuilding your trust in the world — things like our “Why we don’t keep secrets in our house” post.
Boy… I did not mean to write so much, but that all took me back. 🙂 With a teen that feeds himself breakfast and keeps himself busy a lot, it’s hard to remember the rough times. We made it though! It took a lot of introspection and being aware of burn out, but we found ways to rest and refresh. Whether it’s through trusted family, friends, drop-in day care (churches or schools), or tapping resources in the special needs community — give yourself an occasional break for your sake and your kiddo!
I agree, every family and child may have a different set of unique circumstances that may make getting alone time more challenging. I love your point about not constantly needing to engage our kids…SO TRUE! They have to learn to entertain themselves and it is exhausting on us as moms to take that role on. Thanks Audra, Lauren