My friend (a friend who doesn’t have kids) was the first person who introduced this concept to me: annual parental leave. I laughed when she first said it saying, “There’s never a ‘leave.’ Once a parent, forever a parent.” But, she got me thinking.
That year, my husband and I went on our first solo vacation since becoming parents. We went to Bali and had an amazing time. We discovered that no, we don’t actually loathe each other; we loathe being under slept and over worked – the reality of parenting.
And we missed the kids. A lot.
This year, my “annual parental leave” took me and that same friend to India, a place I have had on my wish list for years. My husband’s and my holiday time didn’t synch this year, but getting away with a friend felt just that much more delicious. We were two girls on a beach in December. No kids for me to worry about, not even the adult husband kind.
Things I have learned from the “annual parental leave” experiences:
1) The kids will be fine. Ten days or two weeks will fade from their memories immediately upon your return. Even the bad habits instilled by the grandparents are easily reversed in a few days.
2) Sleeping two or more consecutive nights without being awoken by “mommy, mommy” and then discovering the long-lost feeling of adequate rest in your body is, well, essentially the point of taking the leave.
3) Because your brain has actually received some rest in order to function, not to mention not having the constant interruptions of a child’s daily needs, you can finally take time to reflect on your plans for the coming year and your accomplishments of the year past. This is pure medicine.
So, in short, I advocate the “annual parental leave” as part of any parenting contract. If you haven’t written it into yours yet, there’s still time!
Photos: Courtesy of Ember Swift