Many mums, myself included, feel guilty for leaving their children in care for anything other than work for money. It's ok to have childcare for your paid job, in fact, it's even encouraged with rebates, but it's not socially acceptable to leave your child in care if you need to catch up on sleep or have a massage or reconnect with your partner.
But last week I had the opportunity to test my pre-conceived notions about childcare - I won a 5-day cruise from Sydney up to Queensland and it was only for two people. It coincided with our ten year wedding anniversary and I've recently stopped breastfeeding my youngest child, so in many ways the timing was perfect, but in other ways, it really stretched me...
It was a big ask for my mum and dad to look after my three young children for five days. I booked some extra time with the nanny and filled their freezer with school lunches. I helped my mum with a meal plan and shopping list and made sure they had enough clothes so she didn't have to do laundry
It was also a stretch for my kids. My oldest was very anxious, and I was worried about her, but my middle boy was totally fine with the whole thing. And it was the first time I'd left my toddler for that long.
My husband and I have both travelled for work, but rarely leave the kids just so we could spend time together, and at first, it felt so indulgent!
I told a friend about the trip and she said she was invited to a destination wedding when her youngest of three was about the same age, and she said it was the best thing for their family. And once we had the chance to reconnect after 10 years of marriage and 3 children it felt essential. We began to wonder why it's not more common!
Yes, it took a bit of effort, and there were a lot of logistics to work out. I missed my kids soooo bad! Particularly my toddler. I woke up in the night panicking and said to Dylan "Where's the baby!?"
But it was also a chance to call on my village. Often we don't really test our village until it is an emergency. A friend recently had a life-threatening illness and needed major surgery with a long recovery time. She was amazed at how well her little girl coped, and how her family and friends stepped in to help. And what it really got us talking about is why we don't ask for help more often - why do we wait until we are quite literally almost dead!?
And it was a great opportunity to press the reset button! We spent days reading, eating and looking at the ocean. It was a big shift in gears and we've come back feeling refreshed and renewed. I always feel like I'm a better mum, more patient and energetic when I've had a break.
And you know what? The kids are alright! They had lots of fun eating their favourite foods and staying up late and generally enjoying time with their grandparents.
And my parents were alright too! They had fun taking the kids to cafe's for afternoon tea and went for a swim in the river. My mum even managed to do the laundry and sent all the kids clothes back washed and folded!
Here's a few pics...