Having a family is a huge life choice and one that I do not regret in the slightest. In fact, I love it! I am probably the happiest I have ever been.
I can’t deny I miss elements of my pre-baby life.
So, last week we dropped the little man off with his Nana and Granny and headed up to Edinburgh for 5 baby free days and nights of care-free, grown up fun (steady on now, it’s not that sort of blog!).
I may have gotten weepy during bath time the night before we left, and yes my husband had to pry the little boy out of my arms that bedtime, and I have never left it so late to head to the station for a train, but once we had broken through that invisible, emotional barrier, it was brilliant! One week in Edinburgh for the Fringe, the place where we got engaged and spent the week before our wedding. 21 shows in 5 days. Drinking and dancing til 4am, then sleeping in until noon. Having a picnic at the top of Arthur’s seat with some of our closest friends. Staying up chatting and drinking wine with my best friend until 3am. Even the simple bliss on first arriving of just sitting down for two hours, uninterrupted. Amazing.
Of course I missed my son, and I was desperate to get him by the end, but the massive smiles and hugs all round when we got home left me in no doubt we’d done the right thing.
Still not convinced? Here are ten reasons why I’d recommend time away from your kids to anyone:
1. Parenting is bloody hard work. Holidays from any other job are a legal right, so why not a holiday from being a parent?
2. Your children are allowed to love people who aren’t you. As the people who brought them into this world and sacrificed months/years of our life to sleep deprivation in order to run and cater to their every need, it’s difficult to accept that anyone else could be the source of comfort and affection. Some of my happiest childhood memories are of spending time with my Nana, and while he’s not yet old enough to remember, it was heart warming to see the amazing bond our son had built with his two grandmothers in his week with them. If anything, I worried he was happier there than with us at home!
3. You are not the only person who loves your child. I’ve never realised it before, but I do hog my son. He’s mine: I grew him, I gave birth to him, I alone fed him for months. No one could love my son like me. They couldn’t…but they can love him just as much in their own way. It’s not something I find easy to admit but I know it to be true, and a week without my unintentionally watchful eye was clearly bliss for the grannies.
4. Just as children need a range of people in their life, so do adults. It’s so easy to fall off the face of the social planet when you have a family. Even when you do catch up, where you used to head down the pub or see a girls flick at the cinema, now you’re suggesting lunch at a shopping centre ‘because it has such good baby facilities’. Good friends will love you no matter what, but it’s nice to be able to sneak a bit of time to yourselves and chat about the things that made you friends in the first place.
5. Relationships need work, even more so when you have kids. Those of us who are lucky enough to be in a relationship can easily take it for granted. When a kid comes along, romance goes out the window and all the attention transfers to them. It’s easy to think that the family will take care of itself, but your relationship is the cornerstone of your family and for a successful family life, you need it to work. Taking time out to be a couple now and then isn’t selfish, it’s vital!
6. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I don’t love my child any more since going away, but I have a hell of a lot more patience. It’s easy to be a parent when you’re splashing in a paddling pool or giggling over silly noises. It’s a lot harder when they’ve decided they no longer need to sleep and you’re battling to get them down, knowing you have a million and one other things to do before you can finally sit down with a cuppa. Ones week away and suddenly it’s not ‘Oh bloody hell, he’s still awake. That little git hates us!’ It’s more ‘Aw. He just wants a cuddle. I don’t mind sitting in his room in the dark for 20 minutes, it’s quite nice actually’. (Though I make no guarantees how long that lasts).
7. It’s really fun! I love singing wind the bobbin as much as the next person (well, erm…) but it’s amazing to be able to indulge in some real, grown up entertainment (look, I told you, it’s not that kind of column!) of the sort you used to without thinking: pubs, theatre, comedy clubs and all the other places you couldn’t get into with a buggy.
If none of those things have persuaded you, maybe you just need an idea of what you could do. For the final three reasons to have a break from your kids, here were my top three shows of the Edinburgh Fringe. If you can get a babysitter, definitely go and check them out some time.
8. Richard Herring‘s show ‘We are all going to die’. I have to admit, I’m a little bit in love with Richard Herring. So clever, so funny and so lovely. Name me another comedian who gives away a free programme to everyone in every show and then collects donations for Scope. This show also features an excellent in-depth analysis of the song ‘there was an old lady who swallowed a fly’ which wil change your view of nursery rhymes forever.
9. Max and Ivan: The Reunion: The Reunion. We discovered this double act during our first trip to the fringe 4 years ago and have been to see them at every possible opportunity since. I can’t even begin to describe it except to say it is the most energetic and cleverly structured sketch show I’ve ever come across. Also nominated for this year’s big comedy award at the fringe.
10. Casual Violence: The House of Nostril. As a rule, I steer clear of anything compared to ‘League of Gentlemen’, which totally freaked me out, so I’m glad I missed that comment on their flyer. This weird sketch show/play was hilarious and disturbing in equal measures. The chimney sweep sketch has left my husband saying ‘step in time’ after every other sentence ever since.
So, to the person who asked me ‘don’t you feel guilty‘? NO! In fact, we’re already planning next year’s trip.