Bye Bye Baby. Why Time Off From Motherhood Is Good For Parents And Our Children

29/07/2014 16:30 | Updated 22 May 2015

Bye bye baby: why time off from motherhood is good for us and our childrenAlamy

In a rare moment of weakness tears prick my eyes as I kiss them goodbye. I'm heading to the airport to fly to the opposite side of the world to my children. What? I hear you gasp. Don't judge me, it's my job. As a travel journalist, I have to travel a lot. While I sometimes take the gang with me, more often than not I go alone. And that's when the hobnail boot of maternal guilt kicks in.

But is it really so bad to have a break from your children? I actually think it does us all the world of good. It allows my kids to really bond with their father and grandparents without their anal mother hovering and denying treats, and I have the time to appreciate them away from the squabbles and monotonous routine of day-to-day life.

Working from home with three lively children is full-on to say the least. While I'm happy to do the school run, attend assemblies and run from pillar to post delivering each one to dance classes or football, I also like my own space and can get noticeably antsy if I go too long without a breather. But it doesn't mean I love them any less, it just means I love myself too.

My work trips usually last a few days and are every five to six weeks or so. I also make sure my husband and I have a couple of solo weekends a year together.

Luckily for me I have two sets of hands-on grandparents who all enjoy the chance to spend quality time with their grandchildren. We Skype every day (I've been known to remonstrate bad behaviour over several time zones) and I always come back refreshed and ready to take the reins of motherhood once again.


They've missed me, I've missed them and we have a few halcyon days together before we're all bickering again.


And it seems I'm not alone. "We leave Ava with my parents for one weekend every six weeks or so. She adores them, they adore her and we get lots of kip 'n' coffee. It's win-win," says Cath, mother of one.

"I see our weekends away as marital stock-takes, where we finally get enough breathing space to chat about anything from our marriage and our careers to holidays and purchasing decisions. In other words all the stuff you can't do properly with a four-year-old hanging off your sleeve."

However, not everyone is lucky enough to have this kind of back up. "My parents live 12,000 miles away so we don't go away as much as I would like to," says Lindsay, mother of one. "Also I hate the thought of not being there for my son. He doesn't like me going out on my own without him, let alone away for the weekend."

Yet if we are able to do it, why not? It also allows children to form other strong relationships away from their primary carer.

"I had a two-day holiday on my own to Whitby for the very reason of getting away," says Hazel, mother of a 15-month-old. "I personally think it's quite healthy to do it now and again for everyone's sanity."

But it also depends on the child and their relationships with other members of the family.

"Mine are now 14 and 17 and it's only now that I feel comfortable with both of us going away for more than a night or two," says Pamela. "When they were much smaller we went away for a week, and I'll never forget the look of grim relief on my older boy's face as we walked through the door. They'd been quite miserable and it was awful."

Of course there are times when it doesn't go so well. I was on a trip to Florida when I missed my son's first play, for which he has never forgiven me. And when I first left my husband with a four-year-old and seven-month-old twins, I returned to a shell of man, quite unused to that amount of work on such little sleep. But these times are rare and for me, the benefits far outweigh the consequences.

"I dump mine with grandparents as often as possible. I have done since our oldest was three months old. Kids love it, grandparents love it, we love it. I never felt guilty because, well, why feel guilty when everybody loves it?" says Lucy, mum of two.

Exactly. So come on mums, let's collectively ditch this burden of guilt and enjoy some well-earned time off. It's a win-win situation all round.

What do you think? Do you take time off away from your family?

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