I’m going to wash those kids right out of my hair ...

Lifestyle

I’m going to wash those kids right out of my hair ...

How to plan for some time apart from your offspring

Sally Peck

However happy your family, uninterrupted time together on holiday can be a bit overwhelming. You may find that you’re craving some adult-only time; a holiday from your holiday.
My husband and I  were recently reunited with our two children, ages seven and five, after we spent the week working and they spent the week fishing, boogie-boarding and gardening with my parents in the countryside. I have missed the children far more than anticipated; I have achieved new levels of post-child efficiency at work. The children, for their part, sent e-mails with photo attachments that suggested good times: “I read three books today”; “A wave knocked me over and my boogie board went on top of me but I didn’t even cry.”
Of course, my husband and I are boring: we were working. But, other than education, no question has divided my group of parent friends more than this one: when is it OK to leave your children and go on an adults-only holiday?
Much depends on your situation (do you have hands-on grandparents living nearby? Full-time childcare help? A really involved brother/uncle?)The choice of one couple to leave their four children, including a baby, with grandparents for an adult-only week-long ski trip set tongues wagging just as quickly as the refusal of another couple to attend a good friend’s wedding because the invitation hadn’t included their toddler, and they just couldn’t imagine leaving the child. Friends who are single parents report even greater need for time off, and, from what I’ve seen, suffer fiercer judgment when they do take a break.
But parents, particularly new parents, report strain on their relationships because they have little time together. Taking a holiday without the children – even for a weekend – can revive the relationship. But when?Emma Citron, a consultant clinical psychologist, says there are a few developmental signs that a child is ready to be left behind so parents can have a child-free break.


Make sure they like the babysitter


“Some signs that a child is ready to be more easily left (without undue tears at departure or clinginess upon return) is that they are comfortable with the person/people that you are leaving them and do not cry or show other signs of distress when you tell them of your intentions. Ask them, too, if they’d prefer someone else to be left with. It is  the emotional closeness and emotional availability and kindness of the person the youngster is being left with – and the amount of time as well as other variables such as the maturity of the child – that smooths the passage for that seemingly vital break.”..

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