The Importance of Time Away From Your Kids

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I know I’m usually sharing all sorts of ideas for activities with kids or ways to handle conflict lovingly, but today I want to talk about the importance of taking time AWAY from your kids.

We all need alone time but I hear from a lot of parents that they feel guilty when they take time away from their kids.  Let me allay your fears.  Yes, you are your child’s biggest influence and the people they most need to connect with, AND it’s absolutely healthy and good for them to develop relationships with other adults.

If you have a nanny, babysitter, aunt, uncle, or grandparent who loves your children, please give them the opportunity to have a closer relationship with your kids by going away for the weekend, having a date night, or going to a yoga class.  It’s good for you and it’s also really good for your kids.

When young people have the opportunity to develop strong bonds with people other than their parents, they become more well rounded, better able to adapt, and they’re exposed to new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things.  This all provides variety and learning that you can’t give to your kids otherwise.

A study recently came out showing that children who had two parents who participated in their upbringing, specifically, kids who had a relationship with their fathers as well as with their mothers had higher IQ’s than kids who only had a mother in their lives.  In fact, researchers could tell who had had a father’s influence during childhood when they looked at the IQ scores of people in their 20’s!

What can we infer from this study?  Well, I for one, think that if two parents are better than one parent, then even more caring adult influences are likely to benefit your child too.

Maybe I’m biased, because after my parents divorced and remarried, I ended up with four loving parents who cared for me, connected with me, and shared their world-views with me.  I even spent a couple of school years going over to my grandparents’ house after school, so I had the opportunity to develop a strong bond with my grandma and grandpa.

As a kid, I loved getting new perspectives and ideas from the adults in my life and I often tried to emulate the best qualities I could find in each of them.  As a result, I think I turned out to be a pretty great, well adjusted, and compassionate person.  I also got the idea that I was a pretty lovable and likable person, because I had a bunch of wonderfully supportive adults who enjoyed my company.

OK, now that I’ve convinced you that it benefits your child to spend time away from you, what about the benefits to you?!  When you get time away you’re able to look at things from a new perspective.  You might get some new insights into a recurring dynamic at home, or you might just relax and enjoy yourself, allowing yourself to let go and stop being responsible for another human being for a moment.  Ahhhh, that feels pretty good.

The other thing that happens when you take time and space from your kids, whether it’s a weekend away or a few hours every afternoon, is you actually miss them!  And that’s a VERY good thing for you and for your kids.  When you get the space you need and you find yourself longing for reconnection with your kids, I guarantee the quality of your interactions when you reconnect will be much better.

On the other hand, if you’d rather force yourself to spend all of your free time with your kids, feel guilty for even wanting some space, and then build castles of anger and resentment, I guess that’s a valid choice.  It just seems like a lot less fun for everyone.

So, this week’s challenge is to foster your child’s relationship with another adult by taking time for yourself.  Try really pampering yourself and see how much you can enjoy it.  Really let go of any residual guilt you may have felt in the past and relish your alone time this week.

Have a wonderful week.  Warm hugs, Shelly

8 comments
Flashpoop
Flashpoop

I've tried asking for a date night but no grandparent will watch her. I want adult date night with no baby and ive only been out 3 times less than 2 hours. I'm depressed. Fiancé says I don't work so I don't need one. My 22nd bday past and we did everything my fiancé wanted to do..with our baby. That's just like my 21 bday. I don't visit my mom much she encourages me to stay home for my baby and not work.., I feel like I want out. No one listens to what I want. I say I want school and my family tell me no I am better home with my baby like my mom.

koltkev747
koltkev747

Love the advice and perspective! You are spot on! Parents need to love each other first and foremost! I've linked your article to my recent post on my new blog about parenting teens- www.backwardparentingbybrita.com. Please visit!

AmandaP33
AmandaP33

This is a great article.  I have been debating with my husband what we are doing to do about whether we should take time away from work once we have a baby.  We are lucky enough where money is not a restricting factor, but I worry about what will happen to my career if I do. I was just partaking on this debate on this topic - http://www.the-counterpoint.com/discussion/t

natasha
natasha

I agree kudos to those that can get away I have been recently going thru a difficult time w my boy friend says I'm a terriable mother for wanting some alone time and time away from the kids its not like I don't love them or want to be away all the time its the fact I haven't been away from them in almost 4 months. I really don't even know how to handle this situation besides just keep staying home I'm misriable and moody all the time some one help!

Stressed Out
Stressed Out

It's extremely hard to do that when you have a grandparent that feels it is wrong for you as a parent to want or enjoy any time alone or socially. Any time away from my kids is always preceded or followed by guilt from my mother in her actions and comments to the point that I can never really let go. Sanity check is over due.

I am almost 40 and still feel guilty for sneaking time away to be with my husband or rarely a friend. What's so wrong with wanting adult time? I would think it is more than healthy to want that time to regroup or relax so that you can be better parents. Her issues cause me issues and comparisons of her raising one child to me raising multiple, she will never be able to relate. "Calgon take me away."

Kudos to those parents that are able to have adult time, alone time or even social time. It will only increase your enjoyment of your children when you return to them. It will rejuvenate your relationship as a couple to be able to focus on something other than your children for a while.

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

@FrancescaRS I'm so sorry to hear that you're so sleep deprived but I'm glad you're doing something about it, self care is SO important. And I love it that you're writing about it too. Thanks so much for sharing your article! Warmly, Shelly

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

@AmandaP33 Thanks for your kind words! I hope you and your husband have figured out your plan are are happy with your decision. Personally, I think it's very important to take at least a few months off while your newborn is adjusting to some kind of a sleep schedule. And ultimately, the more time you can spend with your baby the better! I do hear you though about wanting to maintain your career. I wish that was made easier here in America. Hugs!

DianaAhipeaud
DianaAhipeaud

I m sorry but your boyfriend is being very insensitive. You DESERVE to have time for yourself. Don't let any man or anyone tell you the contrary. I m a in the same boat aand DEFINITELY need time alone from my kids to get my sanity back and to stay away from anxiety and depression. Please reply! Are u ok? It s been a while since u posted this.

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

Can you at least have phone calls with friends? It sounds like you need some emotional support and connections with peers. I hope you're getting the time and space you need (and sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment)

AwakeShelly
AwakeShelly moderator

Yes! I'm sorry to hear that your mother is not supportive of your desire to spend some time with your husband and/or friends. It sounds like this is an area where you could set a clear boundary with your mom and allow yourself the time away that you need. Good luck!

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