• In the beginning, the guilt feeling is likely to make one feel like a bad parent
My husband, son and I are living with zero family and friends in a foreign country. We do not have a village or any help of any kind. We have colleagues we rarely see thanks to home office programmes and ghosts for neighbours — we hear them but hardly ever see them. The only ‘help’ we have is the daycare we pay for three times a week, and for those six hours our child is away, my husband and I are preoccupied with our own daily tasks.
It has been nearly impossible for us to have any time to connect as a couple because everything we do revolves around our child. We either have to go out as a family or divide and conquer different tasks by splitting up into two groups. Night-time is often when parents find time to sit down and chat about their day or watch something together, but our son usually sleeps around the same time as we do, so we hardly have any time for each other during the night, either.
A few weeks ago, we realised that the longer we keep it up, the more disconnected we feel. We really just needed to carve out time during the day when our son was at daycare for us. We needed to make this time for us even if it meant taking off work. This was time we agreed to take to do fun activities not only outside of the house but also out of town. We would go to the city, explore, shop, go to museums and do all the things we used to do before having a child. The things that would be impossible for us to do with our active toddler.
Last week, we went to a faraway town to partake in a very popular chocolate festival that takes place once a year. It took us three hours for the round trip, which gave us another three hours to explore before rushing back to pick up our son from daycare. Just the feeling of doing something that we enjoyed, that wasn’t filled with a toddler’s needs rather, we were partaking in our own interests, revived my spirit that I am still riding on a high.
In the beginning, the guilt feeling is likely to make one feel like a bad parent for ‘abandoning’ their kid so they can go out and have fun. But in the end, you can’t help but realise how essential this time away from your child is. It’s not time that has gone to waste, it is a time for the people who make up the foundation of the family to solidify their relationship by prioritising one another.
My husband and I look forward to such occasions as they are rare and precious. They help us connect, let off steam and, for a few hours in the day, we get to prioritise ourselves. This has not only been beneficial for our growth as a couple but has also proven to be important for our individual growth.