My husband does a lot. I would be lost (or fairly inconvenienced) if I had to take care of anything related to our vehicles, the trash and recycling pickup schedule, or when our dog's next wellness check is. Those just happen to be things that fall under his domain. Meanwhile, I take care of what the kids are wearing, meal planning, grocery shopping, and laundry. We have chosen our fates. We have fallen into a comfortable routine. We like things the way they are.
So when one of us leaves for an extended period of time, whether for work or pleasure, it leaves the other one scrambling to cover jobs and chores they don't normally deal with. For the person leaving, the amount of extra work it takes to prepare for a weekend away sometimes feels like it's not worth it. There is extra laundry, making sure meals are prepped ahead of time, laying out clothes, writing down things that are second nature to you, and crafting lists upon lists.
But those glorious, nay, triumphant moments of serenity once the escape has been made are priceless, and a healing balm to a parent's soul. Having just returned from a weekend-long business trip myself, I feel rejuvenated by my three days of freedom from the daily grind of parenting, and ready to embrace the diaper changes, sticky fingers, and endless cleaning up of toys once again. In my opinion, here are the best parts of leaving your kids for a weekend away:
that restaurant life
We are in the toddler and preschool stages of parenthood, which means food never remains in its original state. It must be cut down, chopped, and otherwise torn apart to ensure its safety for little mouths still learning to chew before swallowing. On a weekend away, I didn't tear a single bite of food into tiny pieces. A normal person would take this for granted, but not a parent of young children!
In addition, I didn't have to kneel down on a filthy restaurant floor to pick up the war zone of crumbs and scraps left behind by my ravenous pack of wolves, ahem, kids. I ate my food while it was still hot. I didn't share it with a set of grubby hands that know no boundaries. This was divine.
I didn't change a single diaper while I was gone. Nor did I interview anyone to see if they "had to go potty." I didn't have to lift anyone onto a toilet seat, touch or even carry a package of baby wipes, much less actually wipe another person's bottom. I felt cleaner than I have in three years.
packing a bag for the day
The act of preparing to leave the house for a parent of young kids is actually an hour long ordeal. Snacks must be curated and packaged into portable forms. Multiple water bottles must be filled. Shoes must be located and squishy feet must be shoved into afore mentioned shoes. Faces are to be wiped, diapers changed, and teeth brushed. Diapers, wipes, extra underwear and pants, and favorite books are shoved into a bag that is seemingly packed for a year abroad, but is really for a 2 hour outing.
While on my weekend away, it felt positively sinful to leave the house with nothing but my own bag slung over my shoulder. Sure, snacks were still involved, but only because I'm a pregnant woman who gets nauseated if I don't eat ever hour on the hour.
missing my kids
Lest you think this should not go on a list of the best things about leaving, I bid you the challenge of answering my three-year-old's "why?" questions for a day. In the past week alone I have answered questions regarding the earth's tilt on an axis, the cultural norm of wearing a wedding ring on one's left hand, and the location of Russia on a map. If ever I dare to answer, "I don't know," I am met with tears of rage and an insistence that I do actually know, but am simply withholding information. Meanwhile, I just had a conversation with my 17-month-old that went something like this: "Mommy!" "Yes?" "Mommy!" (for 3 more minutes straight), "Mommy!" "YES? WHAT?" "Mommy Mommy Mommy. Football! Hahahahahaha."
So indeed, it was refreshing to hear nothing but silence and adult conversation for a few days' time. I returned refreshed and dare I say excited to answer their queries.
an appreciation for my husband
He didn't have to agree to this weekend away. Yet not only did he agree, but I returned to happy kids and a clean house! I didn't hear a single complaint from him the entire time I was away. I never felt guilty for leaving. It's easy to compare how much work each partner does in housework and child-rearing, but after a weekend away, it was clear to me that we operate as a team, not keeping track of each changed diaper or washed dish.
For many parents, a weekend away is not always feasible, and if it is, requires a bit of sacrifice from the whole family. Despite the extra work it creates, though, it is truly worthwhile to come back a happier and more refreshed parent. As much as we love our children, our spouse, and the life we have created with them, it is necessary to reconnect with ourselves as human beings in order to give our best to those we love the best. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.