Childfree Time vs. Mum Guilt
If you frequent any of the various mum groups available then you will know that this topic crops up quite a lot.
To be honest, mum guilt could probably be a topic all on its own! Spending time away from out children is just one of the many things that mums (or parents) have to feel guilty about!
There are many reasons why we need to spend time away from our children, work is probably the biggest reason (again this is probably another topic all on its own!). However, in this post I will focus mainly on childfree time purely for leisure, fun, relaxation, or just because you want to!
Is childfree time ok?
Usually in mum groups when this topic comes up, people generally fall into three different camps. Those that spend time away from their child without any stress/ worry, those that would not mind some childfree time but for whatever reason cannot/ won’t, and those who are horrified at the thought of childfree time.
The truth is spending time away from your child benefits both the parent and the child.
Benefits for children
It’s important for children to have the opportunity to forge relationships with family and friends, plus spending time away from their parents allows children to build independence and realise they can seek comfort from multiple sources.
Benefits to parents
It is important for the parent to regain their own identity away from mum/ dad. Before you became a parent, you had a completely different identity that did not include anything to do with children. It probably feels like a completely different person, however it was you.
Also, some time away from your children to relax and de stress with also make you a better parent, as it will give you the opportunity to step away and reenergise. It is often difficult to seek clarity and perspective when you are right in the middle of something; you often see more clearly when you take a step back.
My child will miss me and/ or I will miss my child
Will your child miss you? Probably. Will you miss your child? Probably. Is this ok? Definitely.
There will be no long-term harm done from you spending a hour, a day, a night, or even a week away from your child. As long as someone is caring for them who is responsible and trustworthy. Yes, you may miss each other but it is not forever.
Nevertheless, mum guilt!
Mum guilt, or dad guilt (as they are not immune either), is just part of being a parent. In this instance, you may feel that you already spend a lot of time away from your children, especially if you work, so surely you should spend all your free time with them?
Yes and no. Yes, it is important for children to spend time with their parents. Spending time playing, reading, talking, singing, learning, and exploring with your child are a good way to strengthen bonds. A child will always feel safest and most secure with those who they have formed a strong attachment to.
No, this does not however mean that you can never spend any time away from them. It can be extremely difficult to try to find time for yourself, especially if you have a busy life full of school runs, work, housework, after school/ weekend activities, family obligations, volunteering, other dependants (pets, elderly relatives, etc). If your time together is limited then you probably feel like you do not have time to go on a date with your partner or meet up with your friends.
This however can be easily rectified by looking at your week and seeing what can be rearranged and/ or prioritised. Do your children really need to do an after school club 4 nights a week? If they do, is there anyone else who can take them one night?
Banish mum guilt!
This is the thing; time to yourself does not have to be EVERY week or every other week, or every month. You could be spontaneous!
I understand that this may not be easy or even possible for everyone, especially if your alternative childcare options are limited or nonexistent. Even in those cases there are alternative such as paying a babysitter or having some time to yourself when the children are at school.
What will I do?
This will be different for everyone! However, like I said before, you weren’t always a mum (or a dad), so what did you do before?
Did you go for walks, visit museums, go to the cinema, a concerts, watch/ play sports, go to the gym, go swimming, sit in a coffee shop/ pub, go out for lunch/ dinner, stay at home and watch TV/ movies/ Netflix, go shopping for clothes, shoes, games, treats for you, enjoy peace and quiet.
Whatever you used to do just to relax and unwind. Look after yourself, not others. This is the main point!
Allow yourself the opportunity to be selfish and put yourself first for once.
Putting yourself first occasionally does not make you a bad mother/ father, it does not mean you don’t love your family.
It just means you recognise that you matter too. You need looking after, treating, and time off too.
You are only human. So, click the image below and start looking after yourself!