Leaving The Kids

Who wouldn’t want to spend all their time with these adorable things?

If there’s one thing you learn when you become immersed in the world of motherhood (mothering? Motherdom?) apart from how to cut grapes correctly and how to poo in front of an audience, is how different we all are when it comes to our preferences and the way we bring/drag up our offspring.

Never is this more true than when it comes to leaving the kids. And by that I mean having someone babysit them while you have a break, not abandoning them on the steps of a local church when they’re being little shits. There are some women for whom dropping them off at the gates on their first day at school will be the longest they’ve left them for the entirety of their existence. For others, they’re jetting off on a kids-free holiday before the cord’s been cut.

I like to think I’m somewhere in between although I do veer more towards the ‘I made these children so I might as well spend some time with them’ camp.

With Alexandra we were forced to spend a lot of time apart in the first three months while I spent all my time lying around contracting near-fatal illnesses (dramatic I know!). When I finally made it out of the hospital, Dylan and I went on a couple of ‘dates’ while my mom looked after Alex and then there was a bit of a gap as I’d kind of bonded with this little thing and was happy to spend all my waking hours with her.

Then nana started having her for a couple of hours some weekends to take her to the park or to eat cake and whatever other glorious things grandmothers spoil their grandchildren doing. When I got pregnant with Max, we decided it’d be a good idea to get her used to sleeping at nana’s so she went there – and still does – perhaps every month for a sleepover. Other than that she’s had some time with my sister when I’ve been off at hospital appointments and she obviously was looked after by a few different people when Max was in hospital and I was by his bedside every day.

In terms of social events I’ve been to without her, there’s probably been a handful in her life. I went to a theatre show once, went for a morning at a spa with my sister and went out for my second hen do last summer.

Since Max has been here, I’ve spent most my time with him or both of them (Alexandra goes to nursery twice a week and that’s the longest time I spend without her normally). I haven’t yet got to the stage where I feel the need to have a break from him so apart from when he was in hospital the first time round and I slept in parent accommodation nearby, we’re pretty much together 24/7. I’ve been to the gym a couple of times and once or twice popped to the doctor’s just taking Alex with me and leaving Max with my sister.

So why am I sharing all this? I guess to promote the fact everyone is different and that’s fine. I know people with babies younger than mine who’ve been on nights out already and equally I know parents with babies older than mine who wouldn’t even dream of going to the gym for an hour at this stage (and some who would take their baby with them to the loo. I say pee in peace until they’re old enough to follow you there and ‘help’ with the loo roll in the style of an Andrex puppy).

I think you just need to have the courage of your convictions so if family ask to look after your little one and you’re not ready, then tell them ‘thanks but no thanks’. Approach them and ask weeks, months or years down the line when you ARE ready. Equally you need to respect your partner’s views when it comes to leaving the kids.

Dylan’s off on holiday in September for a week by himself (our children will be two years old and five months old at this point). He’ll have minimal, if any, phone contact with us as he’ll be diving off a boat in southern Egypt. The thought of leaving our children for an entire week brings me out in a cold sweat but the point is he’s happy to do it and so that’s fine by me. However I may decide to jet off somewhere sunny by myself when the kids are teenagers as I have a feeling I really will want some time apart from them by then!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Time Out

The cheeky chimp and her daddy

As anyone who’s ever had a child will know, life changes in about every single way imaginable once he or she has popped out. One of the things you may think won’t change is your relationship, but it will. Even if you’re the strongest team ever and approach parenting with exactly the same values and ideas, the mere fact that there’s another person living in your house (and that you have to decide which one of you disposes of each turd they do – so a little more hands on than a regular lodger) changes things.

So ‘they’ talk about having time for yourselves, date nights, all that kind of jazz. But the reality of life is that you can sometimes realise you’ve gone many weeks or even months without having a conversation more in depth than a discussion of the toddler’s eating habits. By the time they’re in bed at night, if you’re lucky enough to have a good sleeper, you’re probably so tired you’re just slumped together watching TV before bed – so while you may physically be in the same room, mentally you’re probably not.

Given all that, why is it that when someone gives you the chance of a night away somewhere without the baby, it can actually leave you with all sorts of mixed feelings? It was first suggested a couple of months ago that we could go away for Dylan’s birthday – and we had a bit of a general look around to see if any of the deals on enticed us at all. Eventually he found a fabulous looking place in Wales with an amazing offer on. But it wasn’t the sort of place you’d take a young child, all very much fancy dinner and manor-house type feel. So we asked nanna who agreed to have Alex overnight, and booked ourselves in.

And yet, despite the fact I am more than confident nanna knows how to look after our child and that Alex herself will have an incredible time. Despite the fact I’m really looking forward to just over 24 hours where I don’t have to share my husband with anyone – not his work, not our families or friends (as lovely as they are), just me and him talking about whatever we want to talk about and not having the distraction of washing up or taking the rubbish out to worry about. Despite the fact I know it will do us both the world of good to get away for a night. There’s still a part of me that wants to secretly pack Alexandra in our case and just hope she doesn’t knock any of the fancy pants wine glasses over at dinner!

I hope that when Dylan reads this he doesn’t take it as an attack on him or a proclamation that I find my toddler more interesting than him (she does have a slightly better repertoire of jokes to be honest!) – but instead takes it for what it is: the fact that due to some complex brain wiring things I couldn’t even begin to understand, I will be forever linked to Alex and always thinking about her when we’re not together. Although having said that, I suspect the feeling maybe goes a little as they age – I’m hoping I don’t worry about spending a night away from her when she’s 30!

Harriet and Alexandra x