Taking A Vacation From Your Children

A vacation with children is not a vacation. For them maybe, but not for you. Traveling with children is an insane amount of packing, and you will still forget the one thing they want. It is shitting in unusual places, which rarely goes well. It is strange sleeping schedules and locations, which also ends badly. The one thing it is not is a vacation.

As a gift, the grandparents gave us an actual vacation, away from the kids. We spent the entire time sleeping. Watching Netflix and sleeping. Also sleeping through Netflix. Like Kumbhakarna, we just woke up to eat. It was a gift.

I love my children, and I do the minority of housework, but even I get tired. It’s not really the physical work — though they are up like farmers at 5 or 6 AM. It’s more the emotional work, the constant regulation of their emotions, often to the neglect of your own. Not to mention the constant negotiation, and God forbid you’re in any situation that involves socks.

One thing a lot of parenting advice neglects, I think, is the parent. It’s all about the child, and it is all about the child, but if the parent is sleep deprived and insane that’s no good for anyone. Especially the kid.

With mothers in particular, I think the mental health of the parent is often ignored. Many parenting problems can be solved by the parent if they’re just allowed a night’s sleep. And it’s crazy how rare that can be. And sometimes as a human you need to be sick without someone battering down your door, or to just nap without waking every 30 minutes feeling guilty.

And we live in a culture with an obscene amount of family support, I can’t imagine what it’s like in more ‘nuclear’ cultures like the West, or what it’s like in poverty, or migrating with children. It’s not easy and every parent deserves a break.

But of course, not every parent gets one. We did, and it was glorious. Just doing nothing. Doing what we wanted when we wanted to. Not constantly trying to outwit someone with infinite time and little patience.

And when we came back it was delightful to see our kids again. It felt like they talked more, like they had grown. They’re getting to an age where we can leave them for longer with grandparents, where we can take what is our third time away in three years.

To be honest I didn’t miss them at all. My wife did, but I didn’t. I love them and I want nothing more than to be close to them, but life is long and tempers get short. It’s good to take time away, for everyone’s sake. If you can, I highly recommend a vacation from your children, but I don’t need to tell you that. Every parent would kill for a night’s sleep and a dignified dump. So if you can, do. If you can’t, carry on. You can always watch YouTube on the toilet and sleep while they watch Peppa Pig.