I was talking with several parents recently about a variety of topics, when we stumbled on the subject of leaving our kids with babysitters and relatives. And much to my surprise, I learned that many of them have never spent any time away from their kids.
OK, now I want to make a few things clear up front. I understand there are many reasons why some parents can’t leave their kids. No family members around, no money for the babysitter, the baby won’t take a bottle…I understand there are always exceptions. But the people I was bantering with did not fall into those categories. They have perfectly healthy babies, they have willing babysitters and their kids can take a bottle. Yet they haven’t spent more than an hour or two apart from their baby in 9 months.
Sorry, but that’s just weird.
I love Will with all my heart, but I need time away from him. And granted, I’m VERY lucky to not only have family around, but my family is always willing to take Will off our hands. In fact, they usually beg us. Will has spent close to a dozen nights apart from us, and even more than that when someone watches him while MJ and I go to dinner, a movie or what have you.
Right from the time he was born, MJ and I never thought twice about leaving him in the capable hands of our family members. And more than that we knew it was beneficial for us, and Will, to do so. First of all, you can love your kid until the world ends but eventually you need some alone time, both time on your own and spent as a couple. My time alone has included a night out with friends in Boston, my fantasy football draft and simple things like hanging out at a bar after work on occasion. And MJ needs the same things. Furthermore, MJ and I always take people up on their offers to babysit so we can spend time together as husband and wife, instead of mom and dad. Sure having a baby changes everything, but just because we produced offspring doesn’t mean we stopped being people who enjoy adult time together.
We spend all of our time with Will. He’s fantastic, but he’s exhausting. And when two people are cooped up taking care of a screaming, crying, pooping third person all the time it’s very easy to start feeling like two caretaker roommates instead of a husband and wife. And sure, we take him out with us to a ton of places. Hell, we took him to a bar in Hyannis a few weeks ago for pub trivia. But even though he’s a good baby, he still cries and fusses and needs a bottle. So it’s not the same as having adult time to ourselves.
That’s why I cringe at the thought of parents who can’t leave their kids alone. It actually makes me sad because how can you work on your marriage when you have virtually ZERO time alone together? Not to mention the fact that I believe it’s good for a baby to get used to being around other people without throwing a complete fit when mom and dad go away. Sure Will cries sometimes, but because we kept at it he’s now perfectly fine with grandma and grandpa. I would have no problem leaving him for a weekend, although I admit I would miss him fiercely by the time we got home.
But can you imagine 9 months of NEVER being separated from your child? No offense to my precious baby boy, but I’d be in a mental institution by now if that were the case. I’d never presume to tell any other parent how to do things, but I will say I would personally recommend with all my might that if you have a trustworthy person who offers to watch your kid from time to time, take advantage of it and enjoy yourself. You may have to force yourself to concentrate on all things non-baby, but in the end I truly believe it’s a win-win.