Momsense: How to take time away from your children with your partner

“Just thinking about what you need to do to get
away is the very thing that stops you from going
in the first place.”

That quote, from sex therapist Dr. Laurie
Betito, probably sums up most of the failed
attempts by couples everywhere to plan a
vacation away from the kids.

The idea sounds so enticing – let’s take
a short jaunt, just the two of us. Then the
planning begins. Babysitters need to be booked.
Play dates need to be arranged. Food and
sleep schedules need to be charted on an Excel
spreadsheet. You’re not halfway done detailing
every breath your children will take while you’re away – and you haven’t even begun to
actually plan the trip. Exhausted, you give up
on the entire notion of getting away.

“One of the problems is that couples can lose
sight of each other because they don’t spend
enough time alone together,” says Dr. Betito,
a clinical psychologist and a practising
psychotherapist for more than 25 years.

She says parents should not feel guilty about
occasionally taking time alone, away from their
children. “It makes you a more solid couple
which is good for the kids,” she says.

The key, Dr. Betito says, is having strategies in place
both before you leave and for while you’re away.
Here are some tips:

1. Simplify

Don’t over analyze every moment
the child will live in your absence. Make a simple
plan for the sitter and book or suggest one activity
a day to help things run smoothly. You can also
cook ahead, if you have time before you leave. But
Dr. Betito says to ask yourself: “Is it the end of the
world if they eat some junk food / watch more TV /
don’t wash their hands while I’m away?”

2. Plan a scavenger hunt

This is something
Dr. Betito did with her own children when they
were little. Hide dollar store items throughout the
house before you leave. Then each time you call
home from your trip, give a clue as to where to fi nd
the treasures. This ensures long-distance chats will
be tear-free. You still get to call home and see how
things are going.

3. Forget the exotic

The important thing is
that you and your spouse are getting some quality
time together. A big vacation is not always feasible,
but you can take a vacation in your own city. Book
a downtown hotel or B&B and act like tourists …
even for 24 hours.

4. Fly solo

Not everyone has access to childcare
– a relative close by or a babysitter competent
enough to take on all the household logistics for an
extended period. But if you really need the break,
you and your spouse can take turns holding down
the fort while the other gets time away. Even just
one rested, refreshed partner can get sparks flying.

5. Enjoy the break

You have taken all these steps
to ensure a smooth getaway, so don’t obsess over
what’s going on in your absence. The whole point is
to do the things you can’t do with the kids around.
If you can’t sleep in (many parents have lost the
ability!) at least laze in bed, even if you have to
force yourself. And remember to spend time being
intimate with each other while on a break from
parenting. It’s worth it!

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, July 2013.

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