I did it. I survived two weeks’ solo parenting. So I thought I’d reflect on the experience and explain why even though I’m completely exhausted, it’s been a positive, empowering experience and hugely beneficial to our relationship.
My husband travels a lot for work so I’m pretty used to putting the children to bed by myself and generally existing without a second pair of hands around. But two weeks away is a long time, especially when it’s for fun so this has felt quite different.
We had 14 years of just being the two of us before we had children. For 14 years our whole relationship was built on travel, fun, friends and as many hedonistic experiences as we could cram in. And in 14 years there have been a lot.
So whilst parenthood is the greatest blessing that could ever be bestowed on us and we adore making family memories with the children, it quickly became apparent that neither of us was going to be happy to settle for a life where “family friendly activities” were the entire basis of our social life for the next 18 years.
Maybe it’s a controversial thing to say but whilst our children are at the centre of our lives they’re not our whole lives. One day they’ll grow up and leave home and it will go back to being just the two of us. And that’s why we feel like if we stop seeking out the experiences that brought us together in the first place, we’ll fade into a black hole of being defined solely as parents and when our nest is empty we’ll have nothing left of our old selves.
So, although some might raise their eyebrows at the thought of one parent going off for two weeks’ of fun by themselves, to us it’s important to be able to show the children what a healthy relationship looks like. Which means letting each other fly free and have experiences beyond family life that enrich us and make us better, more rounded parents (and more contented partners).
Whilst I accept that all relationships operate within different parameters, I’m genuinely shocked at the number of women I’ve come across on my social networks who keep their partners on an extremely short leash and go crazy if they go for an unplanned pint after work or are a couple of hours late home from a stag do.
It’s almost impossible to have even a semblance of a social life as a couple when you have small children but I think it’s seems depressing to clip each others wings to fun as individuals and resent one partner for letting their hair down just because you can’t do it together. (Note: I don’t mean fathers living it up while their wives are stuck at home feeding babies round the clock, I’m talking post maternity leave, fully weaned children).
Surely solo experiences are better than no experiences at all?
And that’s why even though there have been times over the last fortnight that I’ve wanted to crumple into a heap and cry my eyes out in desperation, knowing that my husband is having an incredible, enriching time and that I’m free to do likewise whenever I want, snaps me out of it and gives me a real sense of perspective.
And not only that, but this fortnight has been really empowering for me. The house is tidy, the laundry basket is empty, the kids ate vegetables (almost) every day, I’ve been really productive in my work life and I’ve used this fortnight to get back into the habit of working out. I’ve smashed it.
I’ve also learnt that sure, it’s nice to have someone around to share the domestic chores and childcare with but mostly I miss my companion in life.
Now to unwrap that Sephora bag…