Look, I get it. I really do.
Getting away with just your spouse is hard.
I know, because I have every legitimate reason in the book.
- We don’t have money to travel
- We don’t have many vacation days
- We don’t have reliable babysitters to watch our kids
- We have foster children
- I have/am breastfeeding an infant
Seriously. I get it.
- We live on a very small amount of pay/year, so traveling has always been an expense that requires much saving and planning. But it’s possible. We did this week in Houston for less than $900. That included travel, hotel, food and even paying for ridiculous city parking.
- Until this new job, Theo did not get a single paid vacation day a year. Not one. We had to make it work, though, and we did. And we do.
- I think not having reliable babysitters for the kids is the biggest factor for us in this whole picture. I think that Theo and I would have had a couples get away long ago if we had felt we had someone to watch our kids. But the reality it that for some of us, life circumstances and schedules don’t allow for this to happen. But we all need to be intentional about making it happen.
- Another huge reason we have never gotten away is because we have a foster child. Sure, there are people we can contact for respite, but we have never actually done this. First of all, I don’t like leaving my child with a total stranger, even if they are licensed by the state. Second, I feel like Little Miss is already so confused about attachment (right now she has three different people in her life who are acting as “mother” figures. Now that is confusing), I don’t want to introduce someone else to her that she has to bond with, and then unbond with when she comes back to us. Plus, foster kids are usually…emotional about issues like being left in a new/strange place. For good reason, but it sure does make it hard to get away, even for a short period of time. But it’s important to you as foster parents to GET AWAY from all of that.
- One super valid reason to not be getting away is having an infant, especially one who is breastfeeding. This is hard, especially if you have had kids back to back and have never had a break in between infants! That is one reason why we decided to do this solo trip NOW. I knew I would lose my chance once October got closer, and I know a solo trip won’t be happening for another 18 months or so as I will have a new baby come October. So my advice is to take any small opportunity that you have in between babies to get away!
So, why did we decide to leave our kids and get away for a week?
- We needed time as individuals to rest and recuperate. Being parents is hard work! It’s not just physically exhausting, its emotionally exhausting as well. Taking a few days away from kids is like recharging our batteries. So needed.
- We needed that time to reconnect as a couple. There are only so many conversations we can have as a couple when we have a toddler and an infant on hand! There are only so many moments and memories of love that we are building just between us when we are doing everything with the kids
- We needed time to recognize our problem areas in marriage. This trip was enlightening! Imagine my surprise when I found out that we argued and disagreed just as much on vacation as we do at home! Here I had been thinking that we are so short and frustrated with each other solely because of our children! Instead, I learned that it’s because of our sin natures and we do have stuff to work on in our marriage. Removing the children from the picture for a few days made it so much more clear what we really need to work on. I’m thankful that I learned that on this trip
- Our kids need to learn to trust us to come back. I’m no expert on attachment, but I’m pretty sure that it’s good for children to be left behind every once in a while. They learn that some new independence, they learn how to cope with missing us, and they learn that Mommy and Daddy will come back! I think those are some great lessons, and even if they don’t know that they are learning them, those intrapersonal skills will come into play in the future!
- Our kids need to know that our marriage is a priority. Too often in our present day culture, we unintentionally worship our kids. We bend over backwards to meet their every need, and sometimes their every want. We are quick to step in when their feelings are being hurt and we are quick to defend our children against any potential harm- even lessons that can teach them valuable skills. Of course, all of this is natural as a parent, and oftentimes it is necessary. However, sometimes our children need to hear that they aren’t the priority and they are capable of dealing with some of the unfair things that life will throw at them. Leaving our kids for the week was good for them to see that Theo and I love each other, and we will take time for one another.
And a special note to foster parents on why you must getaway without your children.
Look, you must.
You will be so much more effective if you take the time away from these children. I know that they have so many needs and so many trust and bonding issues anyways, but you must. And I know that you are afraid that while you are gone something crazy is going to happen with their case and you are going to be several hundred miles away just wondering why the heck the craziest foster care things happen at the craziest times. I know. I get it.
But you MUST get away.
I didn’t realize until we dropped Little Miss off and drove away how much of an emotional burden I carry just taking care of her. Listen, we love her. We treat her like our own. But she’s not ours, and that is always, always hanging over our heads.
In fact, before this vacation, I thought I just needed a break from kids. And that’s true. I did. Besides one three-day conference that I went to and about 10 date nights, I have been mothering 24/7 for the last two years. I did need a break. But even more than a break from children, I needed a break from foster care. Respite, they call it. I didn’t realize how much of an emotional burden and a drain on me taking care of Little Miss truly is until I stepped out of the situation.
What you are doing, dear foster parent, is TOUGH. It doesn’t matter what age placement you have, what needs they have, how many foster children you have, its TOUGH. End of story. You need a break. From the daily rigors of foster parenting and the emotional stress that you carry 24/7, sometimes without realizing it. You need a break together as a couple so that you can just step out of the situation and be with just each other.
You need it. You really, really do.
I want to add here that I would love to hear from you. I think a lot of young mothers I know really struggle with this, especially in the area of comparison. It seems like some of my facebook friends getaway every other weekend and I often filled with jealousy when I see that. I hope that those feelings didn’t overwhelm you as I speak about our trip here on my blog. If you want to talk about it, please feel free to email me at [email protected] I know for some of us it is much, much harder to get away than for others. I’d love to listen to your heart in this matter and maybe bounce around some ideas to help you get a weekend away with your spouse. You need it, and it’s important. Even if it’s hard to achieve.
What about you? Have you ever gotten away without your kids? I’d love to hear about your experience, and if it was a good getaway or not. How did your children handle it? For those of you who are foster parents, how do you intentionally make time to get away without all your children? Do you think it’s important?