As parents, we all love spending time with our kids and bonding with them. But have there been times when you’ve thought you just want to get away and have some time to yourself?
While there is plenty of proof that children who spend time with their families do better in school and are happier than those who don’t, it’s actually still very important to have time for yourself and your partner, away from the kids.
This will help you both reconnect, as well as recharge those parenting batteries.
So if you think that you’re hanging out too often with your kids and you’re feeling a bit resentful about it, these 8 warning signs might just confirm that it’s time to take a break… from the kids!
1. You and your partner haven’t been to the movies for ages.
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If you don’t have a helper, parents, or parents-in-law to help out, then it’s highly likely that you and your partner don’t even remember what the inside of a cinema looks like.
You also don’t want to hire a babysitter because the anxiety of leaving your little one alone with someone else might eat you alive!
However, experts say that your children learn a lot from caregivers other than you. For example, they learn how to be adaptable and resilient, and maybe even pick up a few new words.
So the next time you’re dreaming of a date night, make sure you turn that dream into reality. Hire a babysitter from a reputed organisation or from another trusted source.
Remember, research shows that the more ‘couple time’ you have, the happier and more stable your marriage will be.
TIP: Whether you have a helper or hire a babysitter, do ensure they know what to do in case of an emergency. This includes having a list of emergency numbers and instructions on what to do, for example, if your child knocks his head somewhere or has a nosebleed.
2. Your kid throws a tantrum after you refuse the 100th game of hide-and-seek.
There’s plenty of research that highlights the benefits of parents spending one-on-one time with their kids.
However, children whose parents constantly entertain them may lose their own ability to play creatively and by themselves.
Experts say that a little bit of boredom can actually boost kids’ imagination and creativity. It’s also good for children to know that you won’t say ‘yes’ to their every request and demand.
TIP: If you have a younger child, set up an ‘activity station’ for them. Rotate what you place on this station so your child doesn’t get overwhelmed with too many things. For example, start with blocks first, then move on to a colouring page, and then an arts and crafts activity.
3. Your 5-year-old wants to have chats with you while you’re in the bathroom.
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While each family has different boundaries, your child will soon be old enough to be taught about basic privacy — such as what you are entitled to do if you are in the bathroom!
Kids around age 5 are old enough to understand the idea of privacy, so it’s ok to explain it to them then.
Try saying, “There are some things that are OK to do in public, like blowing your nose, but everyone needs to be on their own when they do some things, like going to the toilet — even Mummy!”
TIP: A household policy of ‘Knock before you enter’ can help ensure everyone gets their private space.
4. You’re unsure about accepting a promotion at work because of your child’s sports schedule.
Many mums put themselves second when it comes to their kids. But if a really good work-related opportunity comes your way, don’t feel bad about taking it up just because it may mean that you’ll miss a swimming class or 2.
Of course, it’s only wise to think carefully about how such an opportunity could potentially impact your family life.
However, if it means that you’ll only occasionally miss out on your child’s activities but you still say ‘No’, you may start feeling resentful, which really isn’t a good thing.
TIP: If you are a full- or part-time working mum, try setting aside uninterrupted time (nothing and no one should interfere with this time!) with your child every day. Even if it’s for just 30 minutes to an hour, this precious time with your child will help strengthen your relationship. You could do this in the morning before work/school, or at bedtime.
5. You pull out last minute from a girls’ night out because you feel like you’re abandoning your family.
It’s true — we all suffer from ‘mum guilt,’ especially when it comes to doing something for ourselves once in a while.
But experts such as Denise Schipani (author of ‘Mean Moms Rule’) say your kids should see you as a complete person living a complete life, which includes doing something nice for yourself once in a while — because that’s what you want for them, too.
Think about it: When you’re rejuvenated and relaxed after a fun night out with your friends, that mood will translate to how you are with your kids too!
TIP: If you plan to go on a girls’ night out, why not tire the kids out before you leave by organising a play date or asking your partner to take the kids to the park or to the pool? That way you won’t experience ‘mum guilt’ because you’ll know your kids have had heaps of fun, and your kids will probably be so tired after all that activity that they’ll fall asleep without much fuss. It’s a win-win situation all around!
6. Your child has been talking for 5 minutes but you haven’t heard a word they said.
Sometimes, mums have that feeling as if they’re mentally somewhere else, even though they’re physically around their kids for most of the time. This is especially true for work-at-home and stay-at-home mums.
Let’s face it — just because you’re with your kids 24/7, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can always give them your undivided attention.
In fact, you may find yourself blanking out most of the time when your kid talks to you.
Time apart from the kids can actually do you good, so that when you’re with them, you can give them 100% of your attention.
TIP: Try doing this: Be with your child for a set amount of time and in that time, do nothing else but focus on her — whether it’s reading a story to her or playing hide-and-seek. Experts say that doing so will help your child feel she has your undivided attention. When your time with her is up, you can focus on other things, minus the guilt.
7. Your older kids stay up late watching TV with you, so you and your partner don’t get to talk much.
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On the one hand, you may be happy that your older kids want to spend time with you, rather than being on the computer or playing games on their iPad.
But on the other hand, them being around you all the time can leave you feeling disconnected from your partner, especially if that TV time is your way of getting some ‘alone time’ with each other.
TIP: Try to explain to your kids that Mum and Dad just want to hang out alone. If you’d rather your kids stay with you during this time, try to fit some ‘alone time’ with your partner into your schedule. For example, set regular date nights or go for a walk or jog together.
8. You take your kids along to grown-up events all the time.
It’s nice to have your kids involved in your activities. But taking your kids to events that are more suited for adults because you feel guilty about leaving them behind may be annoying not just for the adults at that particular event, but also for your children.
What do you think your little one would choose anyway? Sitting through a boring conference or staying at home where they’re comfortable?
TIP: If your partner can’t mind the kids while you are away and you don’t have a helper, this is another situation where hiring a babysitter is really advisable.