Don't get me wrong: I love being a parent. My three children mean the world to me, and every day brings with it wonderful little moments, like stars in a dark sky. I love watching my children grow up, experience new things, and develop personalities.
But, sometimes, I want nothing more than to just be away from my children for a while.
It looks awful, written there in black and white, but I know I'm not alone in feeling like this. Because for all the wonderful moments there are, being a parent is stressful, and exhausting, and sometimes you can forget what it's like to be yourself and enjoy your own company without having to stop every two seconds to check whether or not one of your children is balancing on the edge of a chair.
For many parents, finding this alone time with yourself is not an easy task, and needs to be grasped when possible. It can be found in a walk to the local shops to pick up a pint of milk, or perhaps in the hours between dropping a child at nursery and picking them up. It can be found when your baby finally falls asleep - heck, it can even be found when you go to the toilet and spend a few more minutes than you really need to.
Spending the occasional moment (or longer) away from your child sounds like it should be something which is frowned upon, but I think it is good for any parent to spend some time with themselves when they can. Life is stressful enough without being constantly frazzled by the demands of parenthood.
I think it's also important to remember that if you feel like you want to spend some time away from your children, your partner will too; and it's only in an ideal world that your partner will want to spend all their time with you when they're not with your children.
There are benefits to both you and your child in spending some time away from them. If you force yourself to be with them, the guilt and anger and bitterness can easily build up over time - and, before you know it, you are resenting every moment you spend with your child. Not good for either of you.
In fact, it may also be beneficial for your child for you to spend some time apart from them - whether it be an hour, a night, or perhaps even a day or so. Depending upon the age of the child, it will give them the chance to forge relationships with someone other than you, and learn from them additional skills and perspectives that you might not be able to offer.
Being exposed to other people (people you trust, obviously) will also help nurture and grow your child's independence and communication skills, allowing them to make new friends and build their social circle.
And so, the next time you dawdle on a trip to the shops, try not to beat yourself up too much. Giving you and your child valuable breathing space could actually be the best bit of parenting you do all day.