Time Away Keeps the Doctor Away
When people talk about absence making the heart grow fonder, we naturally think of our relationships with our other halves. But what about our relationships with our children? What effect does absence have on those? I’ve just had a weekend away. Without the kids. With my friends. Cue lots of excitement, too much gin by 4pm, and a hangover by 9pm.
When you’re with your kids pretty much all of the time, suddenly being without them is like having a limb missing. Except, it’s not. Because, actually? You’ve now got 100% exclusive use of all your limbs. This might make you do strange things like the Hokey Cokey. In public. Just because you can (don’t say I didn’t warn you). Some mums are good at taking much needed time for themselves, away from their kids. Others don’t have as much opportunity… And then there are those who feel guilty for even thinking of it.
But time for being you is important and it’s actually an investment in your relationship with your children (way to get rid of the guilt, eh?). It might be a girly weekend away. It might be an afternoon reading a book. It might be an hour going for a walk. It doesn’t really matter how long or how short it is. Just that you get it, on a regular basis, if you can. Because time gives you space. Space to have some fluid thoughts, without being permanently interrupted – and space to miss your kids.
The missing your kids is the important part here because it gives you perspective. When you’re in those moments, where the pressure’s on and you’re trying to get everyone out of the house or nagging them to eat their dinner, you’re a slave to the situation. Engaging with your children might feel tense and stressful. We’ve all been there. We know, right? Being away from them gives you a chance to step away from the role of nurturer, and nurture yourself for a change. This in turn lifts your spirits and mood – giving you a vital recharge that sees you return to your kids with more energy, compassion… Oh, and tolerance.
Also, in the example of an extended period away, like a weekend, you get to see what your life is like without kids (and live that fantasy we’ve all secretly had on a particularly bad day), where we daydream about escaping it all. And it feels nice (and reassuring) to have a chance to actually miss your kids, look forward to seeing them again and realise that you wouldn’t really have your life any other way.
Yes, absence really does make the heart grow fonder. If we let it. Even if within 10 minutes of returning home, our kids are bickering, crying and generally driving us nuts.
That’s what the next break is for.
Mama-time is all very well, but let’s make sure
we get some me-time too!