My weekly parenting vacation

I never thought it would be possible to say, but I am enjoying my sweet daughter more these days.  Over the summer, I reached a point of boredom and frustration and probably needed a break, but a break was not coming.  Too much togetherness, you know?  All day, every day is just too much.  I felt like I was by myself in the trenches and I didn’t know how to persevere.  I knew enough by this point to know that nothing lasts forever, so I just kept clocking one hour after another and waiting for bedtime or for my dear hubby to get home from work.  In short, I felt like a terrible mother because I didn’t want to play with my daughter.  I was sick of it.

I knew I needed help so we had a couple of babysitters come regularly, one on one afternoon for a few hours, the other on a different day.  I got to have some breathing room and be by myself.  It was so nice, except I squandered it sometimes by using it for grocery shopping or other errand running.  Much of it was taken up by our new house.

My daughter started preschool and so now I have two and a half hours to myself, three mornings a week.  Two months in, it finally feels like two and a half hours rather than 10 minutes.  I am using it to catch up with myself and with friends and not to run errands or unpack boxes.

The greatest change is that my parents have offered to take care of my little lady one day and night each week.  This is HUGE! 24 hours all for my own self! Already this has strengthened my relationship with my husband.  Since we have more than 3 minutes to sit and have dinner on that night, we linger and laugh and catch up.  This time is helping me relax since I don’t have to leap out of bed in the morning at my daughter’s beckon.  I can do my absolute favorite thing, which is to have coffee and read in bed… for as long as I like.  And even better, I have guaranteed times that I can plan to go to the dentist, get my hair cut, get my car inspected.  You know, just normal life things that were almost impossible before.

The first recent time my daughter was gone overnight, I desperately tried to accomplish so many things that I was more exhausted when I went to pick her up than I was when I dropped her off.  I wasn’t happy to see her and I was craving more time for myself.  So now I just do one or two things and relax the rest of the time.  Last week I even soaked in a warm bath.  At some point, I start missing my baby and looking forward to seeing her again.  This feeling of rejuvenation lasts for days! I have patience and creative ideas that weren’t there before.

Yesterday I spent all day with my daughter and realized multiple times that I was having the best time.  We were laughing and remembering funny things.  She was cracking me up.  I was making her laugh too.  She was telling me stories from school.  We went to music class and then, since it was raining, we wandered the mall and spent a  l o n g time sipping smoothies and watching people ice skate (I’m talking 2 hours people – long!).  She didn’t nap, but it was an enjoyable afternoon of finger painting and other art projects.  I wasn’t reaching for my phone every two minutes for an escape.  We made up songs, had snacks, watched a couple of Olivia episodes.  I kept telling her how much fun I was having (because she was listening, she was not whining, she was walking on her own two feet, etc. – got to reinforce these good behaviors!) and she said she was too.  I honestly do not think I would be appreciating her so much if I didn’t have these breaks – from school and from my mom.

School and time away is giving my daughter a broader range of experience and also some much-needed confidence and independence.  All stay-at-home parents need a little support and time to ourselves to get through these long days with our little ones.  I didn’t know how much I needed it! I encourage everyone to ask for help and then to accept it when it’s offered.

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