Is taking a break without your kids downright selfish or a real essential when it comes to keeping your relationship alive?
By 'holiday' I'm not talking about those awful stories that hit the headlines when you hear of young children arriving home from school to find a scribbled note with a £10 note telling them 'Mum' has gone away for a few days. No we're talking a proper planned and booked child free break just for 'Mum and Dad'. So do you do it? And if you don't what's stopping you? Is it just down to money?
One couple I know who have three children; ranging from nine to 15 recently admitted they've never had a single night away from their kids since they were born. Apparently their one attempt at a weekend away several years back came a cropper when the children played up, claiming to be unwell, which meant they cut short their break after just one meal out.
I can still remember the shocked looks on the faces of my 'new mums' group when I told them I was off to France for the weekend for a close friend's wedding leaving behind my two-month-old baby daughter.
I love my daughter to bits; but as she was a small baby at that stage; I figured it would be easier all round not to take her with me, leaving her behind in good hands with my parents while I hot footed it onto an easyJet flight early Saturday morning and was back by mid afternoon on the Sunday.
But you'd think I'd abandoned my baby to go trekking round the world for six months the way the mums' group reacted. All of them, were totally shocked that I would consider leaving my baby behind for a weekend when she was so young, with one proudly claiming she'd 'refused' her husband's offer of a romantic meal out for the two of them, as 'she couldn't bear to be parted from her baby'.
Joanne, a mum of four, admits to mixed responses from her mum friends when she goes on occasional trips with her husband: 'Some say I'm selfish; but the way I look at it is that I devote myself to my family the rest of year; so I think we deserve a week out together if the kids are safe and well looked after'.
As they get older, our children go on school trips, camping trips or sleepovers with friends, so is taking a break without your kids a bad thing? Absolutely not says psychologist Dr Helen Barrett: 'Research actually shows that parents benefit from time alone together as otherwise their relationship can suffer if they're constantly running round after the kids all the time'.
So if you want to enjoy a 'guilt free' break how can you prepare your children?
• Planning is key. There's no fixed timescale when to tell your children but never spring it on them the night before; give them time to get used to the idea.
• When it comes to who's looking after them, it doesn't have to be a family member but someone your child feels comfortable with and it's often easier if they come to stay so your child is in his or her own environment.
• Be positive. Children pick up on anxiety, so if you're nervous and worried about leaving them it will have a knock on effect.
• Ensure you've got good communication links; mobiles on 24/7 for emergencies and older children may want to text you or use Skype to keep in touch depending on how long you're away for.
Go on, book that couple break.
What do you think?
Do you recharge your batteries away from the children or would you feel too guilty or anxious?
Read a guilty mum's take on the holiday with-or-without children debate, here.