Do you remember when you used to just book a holiday, pack and then bog off to enjoy yourself?
You pleased yourself. You went wherever you fancied. You didn’t pick a hotel based on family-friendly ratings.
You just went, because you could.
If you can’t quite think back to those dark and distant pre poo-filled times now, I’ll help you out. It was called a ‘child-free holiday’.
A child-free holiday? What’s that then?
Back in the day, you probably didn’t even realise it was called that. I doubt there were many other types of holiday for you, but since your little angels have arrived, your getaways will have most likely taken a slightly different direction.
Ours certainly have.
For the past 2 and a bit years, holidays have been about local amenities, locations chosen by other families, family-friendly reviews, or wherever we could get on my husband’s air miles to piggyback his business trip.
Until now that is.
Last weekend, we were lucky enough to book my parents in for childcare, and the old dog and I sodded off on a long weekend to ski in Chamonix.
The build up felt like a pretty mixed bag actually (for me anyway).
Obviously, I was excited.
Since we have had Lady P, Alex and I have spent virtually no time together on our own. Nothing new here – I think that is pretty normal for most couples with young kids.
We still have a strong marriage, but it’s fair to say our relationship has changed quite a lot because of it. I’m guilty of opting for family time over couple time and HATE the phrase ‘date night’. I also really don’t mind when he wants to go out with his rugby pals and I stay in to watch drossy reality TV shows.
Given the nature of our jobs too, we are also both often late into the night, with one of us usually falling asleep on the sofa. Romantic, huh?
I’m not asking for the world’s smallest violin to play for me here, by the way. I’m just stating fact.
I do therefore realise that it’s really important to remember that we were girlfriend-boyfriend and wife-husband before becoming mother-father, so we both need to put some graft in there regularly too.
We needed to have some fun. Together.
At the same time, I felt levels of guilt that I’d never ever expected.
It’s not the first time we’ve been away from her – I have done the odd night or weekend with the girls, and he works away a lot. We’d never both left her for an extended period of time though, and certainly not in a different country.
For the whole week prior to leaving her, I couldn’t fight the feelings of anxiety.
I felt as though I needed to spend every second that I could with her, as if it was the last time I was ever going to see her again.
I felt doubly terrible that I was leaving her with a cough and cold, knowing that probably all she’d really want when feeling a bit rubbish is a cuddle with her Mummy.
I even emailed my work ‘older sisters’ for advice as their kids are well into their teens and I knew they’d have been in this situation before.
They didn’t fail me.
One of them pointed out that she thought her marriage might have lasted longer if they’d spent more time together as a couple. The other reminding me that we have had a tough year and probably needed some fun time together. They both said they’d each had holidays away from their kids that they had not regretted.
The only regret they’d has was that they probably didn’t do it enough, and maybe phoned home too much when they did.
They reminded me that their kids didn’t really miss them, and they were allowed to eat chocolate buttons for breakfast whilst under ‘Grandparent rules’.
Of course, as usual, they were right.
So I took it on board and tried to stop beating myself up about it.
My advice would be to make the most of your time with your partner, or on your own because that is equally as acceptable and important, and make it matter. Don’t spend your whole time feeling guilty, because then you’ll have wasted your time and made yourself feel sad in the process. Meanwhile, your kids will be having a ball eating sugar-filled cereal for breakfast and drinking bleach (just kidding).
So if you feel anything like me, do your accounts, drink some wine, enjoy dinner together, have a bath, put your makeup on ALONE, don’t pack any baby wipes, take the piss out of your husband a bit, and then race home as fast as you can from the airport to give your little one the biggest cuddle you can ever imagine.
And then just don’t book another one for a little while.