HOW (& WHY) TO LEAVE YOUR KIDS
ALONE WITH YOUR PARTNER
AS MUCH AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE
(Or: How To Have The Best Mother’s Day Ever)
Recently I suggested taking a quickie girl’s trip to a nearby hotel with a girlfriend of mine.
She immediately begged off because she doesn’t have family nearby to watch her kids – who are both older than Diddy – while she’s away.
The thing is:
This friend is happily married.
By DEFINITION, she has family REALLY NEARBY.
He’s called HER HUSBAND.
But my friend has NEVER left her husband home alone with her kids for more than a few hours at a time.
Her list of reasons included:
- How would he feed them?
- How would he get them to / from school?
- The house would be such a wreck when she got back it just wouldn’t be worth it to her to have left them in the first place.
My short answers were:
- He can feed himself, right? So supposedly he can feed them, too.
- He gets himself to / from work, right? He can probably manage carpool.
- Umm … really? The house being clean is more important than MOM HAVING A GOOD TIME FOR 2 DAYS?
I mentioned this conversation to another friend, and she reported OTHER friends of HERS saying the same thing.
And we agreed:
OUR FRIENDS WHO DON’T EVER LEAVE THEIR KIDS ALONE WITH THEIR PARTNERS (and I say this with love) ARE RAVING LUNATICS.
- Refusing to leave your kids with your partner robs YOU of kid-free / alone time. This doesn’t need further parsing, does it?
- Refusing to leave your kids with your partner robs HIM of time alone with the kids. This is also pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it?
- If you don’t leave your partner alone with the kids, how will he ever really understand how HARD being the primary caregiver ACTUALLY IS? Don’t you want ANY CREDIT for making it look easy? Leaving your partner alone with the kids IS THE ONLY WAY to show him that being the primary caregiver is HARD. EFFING. WORK.
- Finally, and most importantly: If you don’t give the poor guy time to practice, how will he ever get it right?
Now, I’m not saying this is always easy. I have on occasion left for a few days to learn that school snacks were forgotten, that dance classes were missed, that MrBigIdeas couldn’t find the shin guards or figure out the coffee maker (umm, hello, push “BREW”).
And god yes has my house often looked like a hurricane ran through it after I’ve been away a few days and left the kids and husband behind.
I’m just saying that the earlier and more often you leave the kids home alone with your partner, the better it gets over time.
And then this happens:
You mention you’re making a six-hour spa appointment on Mother’s Day and leaving the kids home alone with Daddy.
You come home early. The house is wreck.
You decide this is not your problem.
Dad is out in the garden with the kids, so you decide to take a nap.
When you wake up, the kids present you with a hand-picked bouquet and Daddy says – and I am not making this up:
I’m sorry it looked so terrible upstairs, I was putting the boys down for their nap and I forgot to clean up lunch. But I did it while you were sleeping, so it’s good now.
BEST. MOTHER’S. DAY. EVER.
Hear me, Mamas?
This too could be yours IF YOU LEAVE DADDY HOME WITH YOUR BABY,
SO HE CAN GET GOOD AT IT.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from Heather Caliri, who is packing up her kids for a 5-month move to Buenos Aires. To say I am slightly jealous is an understatement — MrBigIdeas and I used to talk about taking our family to Japan for a year, but as the family grew the plan got sized-down a bit. Now we talk about Madrid. When that will happen is anybody’s guess — but reading Heather’s post about packing for her sabbatical makes me REALLY want to get up and go! Maybe this will inspire other readers? Or maybe you’ve already taken a family sabbatical? I’d love to hear about it in the comments if you have … or will …
In the meantime, here’s Heather’s take:
In a week, our family will move to my parents’ house. In January, we’ll board a plane to Buenos Aires for a five-month family sabbatical. Everyone keeps telling us how exciting this sounds.
It is. Except we have to pack everything first. Continue reading “Guest Post: How to Pack Your Kids’ Toys for an Epic Move” »
We have a few family traditions that I am very very very attached to. These are things I absolutely can not have a logical discussion about. Just the mention of most of them makes me tear up – either out of extreme joy and anticipation or because YOU BETTER NOT BE SUGGESTING WE CHANGE A FUCKING THING.
I have been like this my whole life. When I was 20, I spent a semester living in London with seven or eight other Americans. When Thanksgiving rolled around, I insisted they all cook MY FAMILY’S recipes. I called my home town butcher in suburban New York and got his Turkey Cook Time instructions faxed to me. Then I went to Harrods and unloaded on the poor guy who tried to sell me THEIR pre-made stuffing.
I like things the way I like them.
For instance: Continue reading “What We Do On Our Summer Vacation” »
You might have noticed it’s been a little quiet around here the last few weeks.
That’s because school is out and the ChecklistFamily has now entered into its regular summer-programming of slightly-too-ambitious-traveling.
We just returned from a 10-day, all-four-kids-no-paid-help, marathon trip to the East Coast. In 10 days, we:
- attended a wedding
- spent a night with Diddy’s godmom in her amazing, 220-year-old house
- visited my parents
- visited my fraternal grandmother, an easy 20-min drive from our basic homebase NYC hotel room (zoned for 4 people, so we had to keep sneaking in separately with our kids so no one would boot the 6 of us out onto the INCREDIBLY HOT AND STINKY streets)
- visited my maternal grandmother, a friggin’ LONG 3-hours-each-way drive from that hotel room
- visted MrBig(Ideas)’ mother and stepfather
- attended a memorial service for MrBig(Ideas)’ oldest true friend
Next on the agenda is a three-night stay with-all-four-kids in a rental in Solvang for the Fourth of July. Thankfully — and eternally gratefully — this whole thing is being organized by my amazing friend I-AM-SAHM, whose family we are vacationing with. (Yes I know I just finished that sentence with a preposition. It’s summer. Leave me alone.) Anyway: she found the house, she organized the itinerary, she is a basic rockstar and I am thrilled for this trip, really. Except that it’s next week and I haven’t even unfinished packing from the NYC Marathon. Still, this will be more fun than that because this time we’re traveling with REAL LIVE CHILDCARE HELP!
After that, MrBig(Ideas) and I get a few days to ourselves when we fly to Boston for a wedding, sans-four-kids. This involves paying THREE CAREGIVERS ridiculous sums of money to watch the brood while we’re away (damn you, people with helpful family living nearby or willing to fly into the breach on these occasions! I am ETERNALLY JEALOUS!). And originally we were supposed to be going to Vancouver for a few days, not Boston. But still, time off together without kids is generally a joy and I recommend making time for this sort of trip when you can, whenever you can.
After THAT, we load up the minivan with all-four-kids-plus-dog and drive out to NW Colorado for the entire month of August, to stay at the family ranch with my parents. Who, while maybe not the sort of grandparents who are willing to fly into the breach to provide childcare, are nonetheless the sort who are happy to hire camp counselors to run a custom-at-home camp for my kids and their cousins. I am very grateful for custom-camp. That’s why we go for ALL of August. And I way prefer driving with my kids to flying with my kids — and do hope to blog about that in a few weeks.
Still — what all this traveling this should demonstrate to you is that things are gonna be kinda quiet for the rest of the summer because I’m not here to write much — or I am here, and I am constantly packing — and also because, for some insane reason, the “schedule post” function of my WP theme is all buggy and doesn’t work and I haven’t had time to figure out a work-around yet.
But the whole point of this post was to tell you THE #1 ABSOLUTE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER WHEN TRAVELING WITH KIDS, which I remembered upon returning from the East Coast Marathon the other night:
GET SOMEONE TO STOCK YOUR FRIDGE BEFORE YOU GET BACK.
There is nothing worse than waking up the morning after you get home and having to feed your kids leftover goldfish from the airplane for breakfast. I know because I just did it. We totally organized the newspaper stoppage, and the dog sitter, and even taught our babysitter to use our ridiculously complicated alarm system so she could bring in the mail and check on the cats every few days. I even got her to clean out our fridge.
Know what I didn’t do?
GET HER TO BUY US MILK AND BREAD AND EGGS before we returned.
Big fail. I am now adding that to all my travel-lists. Go add it to yours!
1. BRING YOUR STROLLER.
I don’t care if you don’t generally use a stroller, or you won’t be using a stroller at your destination. You will be using it in the airport! You will be using it to push ALL THE CRAP I MADE YOU PACK IN YOUR CARRY-ON from the curb to the departures gate, and then back from your arrivals gate to the curb again on the other side.
That said, don’t bring a stroller that is difficult to collapse or has to be taken apart. Traveling with my Bugaboo when Diddy was a baby was the direct cause of me returning home and immediately selling it to an unsuspecting FTM so I could go buy a City Mini instead. I friggin’ love my City Mini, and my Double City Mini, so incredibly much that if you take nothing else away from this blog, take this:
2. WEAR YOUR BABY.