Please Step Away From The Baby

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.

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14 thoughts on “Please Step Away From The Baby

  1. I wish I had people willing to take Todd off our hands sometimes. Hubby and I have 6 kids total. For about 2 weekends a month, my mom takes the 5 older kids on Friday night to stay with her, usually because they have a church function the next day and need to get up early. We have only been away from the baby 1 night… In his whole 9 1/2 months of life. My mom said she didn’t want to keep him over a Saturday night again. I also have sisters around, but they have kids of their own or jobs that have weird work hours.

    The only time I get away from all of the kids is while I’m at work… I envy you. 🙂

  2. I think you need more time to yourselves! Be selfish – send him to those wonderful grandparents! 🙂

  3. I think it’s great that you guys are able to go and to things together and know that Will is in good hands. Unfortunately with our current situation our work schedules are opposite so we can’t seem to do anything as husband and wife- we are together so little as a family right now that it has to take priority when the time is available. Here’s hoping we can get out once this month!

  4. I think it’s all about what’s best for your family. If the people you were talking to don’t want to spend a night away, then maybe doing it would be more stressful than what they’re doing now?

    (If you can’t tell, I’m pretty reluctant to judge parents for idiosyncrasies. I get all Buddhist-many-paths-to-one-place about it)

  5. I agree. Everyone needs time to be what they were before they began a relationship; whether it’s marriage, a parent etc. It makes your life better and fuller. In addition, it will give Will time to socialize with other people beside you and make him more independent.

    There are other people besides grandparents that would LOVE to babysit. Like if you wanted to go out in Hyannis and were to drop him at someones house for a few hours that might live nearby? That would be ok – hint, hint!!

  6. It’s funny you mention that. You may be getting just such a request in the very near future. Our 3-year wedding anniversary is next week!

  7. I totally agree. So many times parents get so caught up in their newborn babies that they forget about each other and connecting as a couple. Obviously we should be taking care of our babies needs first, but think about what happens 20 years down the line when you child is grown up and leaving home. What then? Do you want your spouse to be a stranger?

    My husband and I don’t go out much because it is damn expensive to get a babysitter and we don’t have family near by. I envy those who have the opportunity and don’t understand why they wouldn’t take it! I love my kids and miss them even when I’m gone for an hour, but I need time to relax and unwind.

  8. My kids were both about a year old the first time that I left them with anyone else even for a couple of hours. My son was 3½ before I let him stay overnight at my mom’s house and my daughter just spent her first night away from me last week (and she is 2). My husband and I had NEVER been alone overnight since we had kids (until last weekend). I have huge issues concerning this because I don’t trust ANYONE. There is a pedophile in my husband’s family and I was abused as a child… I couldn’t, in good conscience, leave my kids until they could TALK well enough to tell me if someone hurt them. My mom couldn’t protect ME so why would I trust her to protect my kids? I know that I’m paranoid but I’d rather be a little overprotective for a couple of years than find out later on that I wasn’t watching them well enough.

    I am NOT saying that other parents who leave their kids at younger ages are bad parents. I just think that whatever works for people should be considered the best thing for that family. No one should feel guilty about leaving their child with a family member or babysitter. Conversely, no one should have to feel guilty for NOT leaving their kid with someone else. My first nights away from my kids were not fun-filled, relaxed evenings. I was tense and anxious the entire time.

  9. Jenn,

    That would definitely qualify as an exception, and like I said there are always exceptions. If I were in that situation, I’m sure trust would be a rare thing as well.

  10. Besides the connecting as married couples also there is a social aspect to that too. He has a family memeber that their kid screams at the sight of other people. Clings to the mother at FAMILY events. No way will ever go anywhere with out mom. Has gotten complaints from the school because kid screams all day long. All this because they never let anyone around their kid, much less alone. When they get to family parties they hold her for the whole time, never let anyone really talk to her, sit far away and then leave the minute that the baby starts warming up. and by baby i mean a 4 year old. On the other hand, we get some where and my kids, 5 and 3 could have a full blown conversation with a mute. I am still very nervous about leaving them places with people – it is always family. and the only one person i make exception for is a girl (22) that i was friends with my entire life and is now a nationally certified preschool teacher with all credidations. But shes expensive. I think that in order to raise a socially unchallenged child they need to be exposed to everyone. and understand that mom and dad will not ALWAYS be there the whole time, but that mom and dad will come home every night. wait till those kids get a job and cant keep it becuase they are so integrated into their own safe little world. But i def also agree with your exceptions as Jenn said. Always do what is right for your kid and your self.

  11. Aaron- my email isn’t working but I got yours. Thanks for you help, I will call Jim myself – we did talk once a while ago but I haven’t heard from him since. Thanks!

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