Mama OWL Blog: Say it loud, I'm selfish and proud.

Say it loud, I'm selfish and proud.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

After reading this article on Parentdish I felt compelled to add my two cents to the "Family Holiday vs Child-free Holiday" debate which is asking - Is taking a holiday without your children selfish? Well yes, of course it is, but what I have to ask myself exactly is wrong with that?

At the end of that article she says she still enjoys the company of her children and would feel too guilty to take a holiday without them. I can definitely understand that, I adore the company of my children (and actually if I am honest, rather resent the implication that wanting to have time to myself perhaps means that I don't...) and feel guilty if I even so much as buy a pair of shoes for myself never mind anything else. She says hopefully she and her husband have years ahead of them, and I really hope that they do, but you never know what is around the corner & the future you expected to have can be snatched away in an instant, you would never see it coming (as this article also on Parentdish sadly makes very clear, and my thoughts are with that family at this tragic time).

I have taken three holidays without my children, and actually two of those were also without my husband. In 2005 my husband and enjoyed a 4-night break in Venice for our anniversary (the children stayed with my parents), and in 2007 & May this year I enjoyed 7-night breaks in Crete and Lanzarote respectively with female friends (while the children were taken care of by their father at home, who himself has enjoyed two skiing holidays with his friends). The Mister and I have also spent a night away down at the coast together, and will be spending one night away together in the city to celebrate my birthday next month. So three weeks (we'll even say four for argument's sake) out of the fourteen years that I have been a parent have been spent "selfishly".

Did I feel guilty? Undoubtedly. Did I enjoy the break? Definitely. Would I do it again? Without hesitation. Does it make me a bad parent? Absolutely not.

My children were fed, watered, cared for and loved in my absence. I was in daily contact, and the day we returned from Venice I was out of the car and running a dead sprint up my parents driveway to reach them, I cried as their little legs carried them as fast as they could towards me and I scooped them up for massive hugs. They told me about the fun they had had and how much they missed me, I told them all about my holiday and they revelled in opening their gifts and hearing about where I had been.

We are not well off at all, in fact we are quite the opposite. But we save and take the children away on family holidays every year even if it has just been a week set up in a tent down the coast somewhere or on a 'Sun' holiday, as well as going on family days out throughout the year. The children don't miss out in any way, shape or form. We have amazing family holidays together, including the shit bits when it rains or when one of the kids has a tantrum because they don't want to do whatever it is the majority have voted in favour of.

We are not swanning off 2 or 3 times a year without them for 10-14 nights at a time, leaving them with *whoever* or passing them around anyone who will take them. If they are safe, fed, and looked after by people that they know and that we trust... then where is the harm? In my opinion, there isn't any.

Personally I wouldn't leave them longer than 7 nights, in fact we even took them (just the two we had at that time) on our honeymoon to the USA for a fortnight, but I think that we ALL benefit from the occasional break from each other and absence certainly made the heart grow fonder. When I came home from Lanzarote we spent the entire afternoon snuggled on the sofa watching movies and just enjoying being back together. They didn't resent me having the time away from them, and they were pleased to have me home again. I missed them desperately, but I returned from Lanzarote feeling like a new woman, refreshed and energised, unlike the tired, run-down and worn-out woman I had been when I left just a week before.

I slept, I read books, I swam in the sea, I ate a meal at my own pace without fear of someone else nicking half of it, I slept on a lounger in the sun, I enjoyed Mojitos (several) in a bar on the beach with my best friend and I loved every single minute of it.

Yes, being a parent means sacrifice. Less (or no) sleep, less money, no time for yourself, your house almost always being a bit sticky, ending up being late 9 times out of 10, and I embrace all of that, I even ENJOY it. But I won't be a martyr because I have children. I don't cease to exist because I am a mother, I still have needs and desires as a woman, and as a PERSON.

I genuinely don't believe there to be a right or wrong. Some women could not imagine leaving their children for any length of time and I appreciate and fully understand that. But for me, still being able to have some time to myself has been a godsend and personally I am a better, happier mother because of that. I fully realise how lucky I am that that has been an option, because it is a luxury and I am truly grateful to my husband and family for affording me it.

I think it is about time that women stopped berating each other for their choices as mothers and just accept that what doesn't work for one, might work for another, and if they personally feel that it helps make them a better & happier person, parent, woman... Then that can only be a good thing for all concerned.

12 comments:

  1. I've not left my children for a holiday yet (not because I don't want to, just a lack of suitable childcare because my family live in France). I can't wait to go away without them. I used to love it when my parents left my brother and I for a sleepover at Granny's, it was an adventure for us and a break for my parents. Going away without your kids is a great idea.

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  2. I need the odd night/weekend away, never managed a whole week, but plenty of times over the 16 years of being a parent I have managed a night off here and there. I don't feel guilty. It's my life too! I miss them if I am gone for two nights, but that actually makes me a better parent for a little while afterwards, because I have had a break from the constant demands! I LOVE being a mum. But I am also a woman, and sometimes I just want a day or two of being Sonya not mummy! Syd is too young for a break at the moment, but we are hoping to get a weekend away for my 40th next year, as he will be almost 2 by then- and I am already looking forward to it. X

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  3. I actually got an earfull on fb once for going out regularly on Saturday nights, hearing the old argument - I spend my money on my kids blah blah blah!! As I stated back, I do spend all my money AND,more importantly, time on my children. I'm away from them approx 4 hrs, most of which they're in bed for, then up with them the next morning doing the usual!! Do I feel guilty? No!! Some parents need a release, doesn't mean you love your children any less x

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  4. They probably enjoy the break with and without you and no I think it makes you anything but selfish...

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  5. I'm glad I saw this. I've been fretting over spending an afternoon away from my two... the bad mum guilt had set it in... but you've just knocked some sense back into me! Thank you!

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  6. Absolutely it's important to take holiday time away from our children. For me, I think that nurturing your marriage should always come first (I know that might be controversial to some). No kid wants their parents to separate and my going away on your own every now and again, you are being wise by making sure you keep the love alive! We try to do this at least once a year - not usually for more than 3 days. I love my children to death but a break away from them every now and again does me (and them) the world of good. Great 'rant' and thanks for linking up to #oldiesbutgoodies

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  7. You are a brave woman and I admire you for it! I've always thought people who took holidays without the kids were selfish, but you have me totally sold here. I've never done it. I feel anxious if they even go on a day out with my husband without me. They wind me up and get on my nerves sometimes, but I know I will never go on holiday without them. If it works for you and you get the rare opportunity, good for you! I'm sure that break and relaxation does you good as a parent.

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  8. I always thought people who took holidays without their kids were selfish, but actually you've got me sold here. If it works for you,if you have the right support at home I can see it would make you feel more relaxed and better able to deal with parenting if you have the (very) occassional break. I know it's not for me - I feel anxious if my husband so much as takes my kids out for the day. They wind me up and get on my nerves sometimes, but I know I could never go on holiday without them.

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  9. If I still can't have time alone with my husband after we want children then I'd rather not have them at all!!!! ;) ;) Ok I'm jesting there, but I don't think it is even remotely selfish to want some time on your own. In fact I think it would be worse for your relationship if you didn't.

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  10. I know I'm a much better parent and wife when I sometimes get a break from them all. I totally agree with you and I love the fact that you counted the days versus the years because that just proves the point. It really is nothing compared to all the other days you are there committed and providing. I've had few breaks but have enjoyed everyone of them.So all round well said.

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  11. I have thought about this before and I'm still not sure where I stand. I often moan that I need a break and I would LOVE some time away from my girl, but when I'm away from her, I hate it. I think partly it is guilt, but I am overbearing and I honestly can't help it.

    That being said, I would absolutely love a night or two away to just spend with some friends, getting drunk, eating nice food and having a full nights sleep without having to set an alarm or being woken by a punch to the eye.

    Never let someone feel guilty for your choices. Like you have said, your children are left with trusted and loving people, there is no harm in that at all!

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  12. I couldn't agree with you more! Honestly, there is no harm in going away without the kids for a few nights as long as you trust who they are with etc. Infact, it does everyone good to have a break from each other IMO.
    I've only left mine a couple of times. The first time wasn't a holiday, it was an emergency and the second time was for 4 nights while visiting family up north.
    (and the time I was in hospital for three weeks literally killed me. I missed the kids so much but they did visit me every day for hours on end. Still though.. it was the worst time of my life, being away from them for that long)

    Fab post Julie! xx

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