It is official we left the compound! I repeat Mummy and Daddy left the compound! Now don’t alert the authorities the littles were well looked after by their grandparents and our nanny whilst we had a weekend away. We are actually having some couple time after having kids! So I wrote much of this post looking at St Paul’s Cathedral from my rather lovely corner hotel room at the St Paul’s Grange Hotel in London having had spa treatments, been for runs and having made up for that by eating my body weight in scrambled eggs and hash browns and consuming delicious cocktails and champagne as frequently as seemed reasonable.
I had originally planned to write about all of things that we did on our weekend away (and I still might in another post as we did go for some great dinners and the hotel was fab). When I sat down to write this though I realised that was is important about this weekend is that we got to spend time as a couple and I have been reflecting on why this is so vital after having kids.
This weekend away from the kids is a rare treat in fact it is turning into a once a year birthday treat for my husband. Well we say that it is his treat, but since I am along for the ride I also have the odd spa treatment and time to relax. With four kids we are more than a little bit lucky that we are able to do this at all. Many grandparents would be reluctant to manage them all for two days. I expect mine are a bit reluctant too or at least slightly fearful, but they are willing and we are super appreciative.
Tourists at home
Leaving the children is a strange thing for me which only serves to heighten my anxiety. I want the time to relax, have fun and be less responsible to others, but it feels me with fear to leave these little people. This is not because I have any doubt in my parents ability to mind them, but because I am over anxious and I constantly over think and create the most extravagant disaster scenarios in my head. Disasters that could, of course, only be avoided if I am helicoptering over the littles.
The thing is I still want to have the chance to be away and spend time with my husband without all of the demands of family life and so I have reached a compromise with myself. I can manage the anxiety if we don’t go far away. We are tourists at home for the weekend and have only ventured about 30 mins from home. As we live in London there is lots to do close to home and it still feels like a break when actually if anything goes wrong we can just hope in a cab. Actually we are in telling off distance so if misbehavior really took off at home we could go home sort it out and come back (we won’t be doing that, but we could and so anxiety relieved!).
I recommend trying to find somewhere close to you or where you work as then the fun starts quicker. My husband was able to be on his birthday break, drinking a glass of wine only 10 mins after finishing work! The location and its proximity to home also meant that we could stay out for longer. The travel time was so short so we had most of Sunday as well and enough time that morning to go to the spa, have a luxurious breakfast and take a nap.
Time for Us!
Before the children came there was an ‘Us’. There was a reason that we wanted to be together and ended up some 10+ years down the road with a mortgage, four kids, two cats and two fish! I think that part of that reason is that we always had fun together. We loved doing things together whether it was going for a nice meal or travelling somewhere new.
Nowadays we are creatures of habit who take a ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach to travelling and even restaurants. We often go to the same places just because with four kids in two it is easier to do that. There is less thinking and planning to be done. So if we get the chance to spend time away from the children and be just the two us we take it. For us the adventure of not having a dinner reservation and not having to eat by a certain time so that no one freaked out is so liberating. It sounds daft really, but the sense of freedom of just walking along a busy high street and taking time to choose a restaurant is something we now love and appreciate. Doing this type of thing and not being governed by the needs of others gives us a chance to relax, to have fun and to really laugh together again.
Fun as a family
Don’t misunderstand me, we have fun as a family. The kids make me laugh every day and most of the time our house is a place filled with laughter, fun and games, but it is also loud and they are very demanding on our time. We barely get to talk to one another during the week. We prioritise one night per week where we get the kids fed and in bed and then get a take away to lessen the tidying up chores and give us a chance to spend time together, but that is once a week for a couple of hours. Ultimately I don’t think that is enough. We like talking to each other and having a whole weekend away is amazing for reconnecting and having space to breathe and be Kirsty and Daniel not mummy and daddy.
One day they will be gone
As sad as it currently makes me one day this little brood won’t be little. They will be grown up and have their own lives. Then it will be just us again and I don’t want that to be a time when we turn around and look at the other person wondering who they are. Everyone changes over time and I just want to make sure that we stay connected and change together rather than becoming these people that we no longer know. I strongly believe that the best way for us to do this is to keep fighting for time on our own even if we spend lots of it talking about the kids!
Time to Plan
Our couple time after having kids is also a planning retreat. When life is busy you don’t really get the time to reflect on what you have achieved or plan where you want to go to and so we also use our time away for this. It is important to check in and make sure that we are on the same page with our goals for the family. Our parenting style is haphazard to say the least, but we do actually also discuss how to approach any issues with the children so that we can at least try to present a united front.
After coming back from our weekend away and having couple time I felt refreshed and ready to face whatever the littles had to throw at me. I also felt closer to my husband and more like a team again. Everyday life has a habit of challenging this equilibrium and making each little thing that the other person does drive you slightly potty so I am grateful for the chance to have that fun weekend and to remember why we chose each other.