It’s tough looking after children. As the saying goes; “the nights are long but the years are short”.
It’s a very sobering phrase and I totally understand the appreciation of the fleeting moments you have while your children are young, but when you’re slap bang in the middle of the nappies and teething years, the toilet training phase or the glorified taxi to football practice stage, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees.
You are over worked and underslept. You are wearing the same clothes all week, each day adding to the canvas of spilled food or spat up milk. You haven’t finished a hot cup of tea in months and you long for 5 minutes uninterrupted peace or a bathroom visit without a dedicated timekeeper and audience.
For four years I was a full time stay at home dad when my two oldest kids were babies/toddlers.
My wife worked outside the home and she always said that she had the easier role. We consciously made an effort to make sure I got a regular(ish) break from the kids and the home. It might be a bit easier for men to do this as it’s quite acceptable to pop to the cinema or pub on your own for a few hours at relatively short notice. I once went to a comedy show in Letterkenny and stayed overnight in a hotel. I think I enjoyed the lie in and hot tea with my breakfast more than the comedy show!
Women aren’t as good at seizing the opportunity to take a break from mammy duties. It requires more planning and the more effort it takes, the more chance that their ‘mammy guilt’ creeps in and they decide that they’re not deserving of a night away or whatever it may be. But this is wrong. You’re no good to anyone, (including your partner) if you’re burnt out. There needs to be a balance so that you can be a better parent and that involves making room for ‘me time’.
Getting away is one thing but knowing that all is well taken care of at home is the other piece of the puzzle. From one dad to another, if your partner is in need of a break to recharge the batteries (trust me, she is), here is what you need to do:
- 1. Team up with her friend(s), preferably other mums who also needs a break. Book an activity or a short break for them, something they can’t back out of. Spa treatments, Afternoon Tea, dinner and a movie or a ‘Momcation’ break at a hotel are all great ideas.
- 2. Cover all childminding duties without her having to make any arrangements. If you can’t do it all yourself, have ample help on hand.
- 3. Do not contact her unless the house is burning down!
- 4. Do not let the house burn down.
- 5. When she returns home, keep the calm as long as possible. Don’t hand her a child and run out the door as soon as she walks in. Ease her back in gently!
- 6. Enjoy the benefits of rejuvenated mom and the brownie points you’ve earned.
- 7. Repeat steps 1-6 regularly.
Moms, if Dad is the one in need of the break, a guilt free outing to a football match, cinema, pub etc. are all appreciated.
It’s tough being the primary caregiver to anyone, whether that’s a child or an adult. Hats off to those that do it so humbly and well. So if you get a chance, call in a favour, book the babysitter, ask the grandparents or beg your closest friends and book the Inishowen Gateway Momcation Getaway. You can book here.
Your kids will be happier for it in the long run.
- Henry Doohan - Donegal Tour Guide