Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Having an identity/life outisde of your kids

Tough topic - but something I think that needs discussing and I certainly am interested in all of your opinions as you have been the greatest supports for me lately, aside from my local friends here in Jersey the past few months!

Having an identity outside of your kids.

I am lucky to be madly in love with my husband. I know that sounds kind of silly and kind of obvious - but I realize that in today's day and age of quicky divorces and couples therapy and "irreconcilable differences" that I am one of the lucky few who really is married to her best friend.

Sure, we both do things that irritate each other - he moves at a snails pace for certain tasks and likes to take his time waking up in the morning, whereas I'm a tasmanian devil starting as soon as I open my eyes in the morning running through the house doing things to get my day started - but at the end of the day we can laugh about it and it works.

Laughing is important. We laugh all the time.

We got married because we chose each other to spend the rest of our lives with. Kids were an afterthought. When we were getting married, I can't even remember if we had discussed kids - although I always knew I wanted some. We talked about work and school for sure because we were both setting out to begin our careers and we both WANTED careers - so that was important to us both. But, kids I think we decided would come later.

We were married for 2.5 years before we decided to have Kaitlyn and our decision was made on an airplane. (no - I'm NOT talking about the mile high club ladies) We had just spent 3 AMAZING months living and working in San Francisco and prior to that we had had 2 FULL years of traveling around the US and world together. We were both working and happy in our jobs and decided that we had started to check off some of our "life" list things so maybe it was time to start thinking about kids.

We returned from SF in April and got pregnant in May. Apparently it was meant to be!

I love my daughter. For those of you who like or love working, (I fully understand that distinction can change every day) you can understand what a sacrifice it can be to decide to give up a career path to stay at home with kids. Not only financially - but personally.

I love working. I loved being tied to a blackberry and accountable at all hours. I always checked my email at home. I didn't go to work at 9:00 and forget about it at 4:55. Work was a part of me.
I love being challenged - which is why I went back to school while I was working FT to get a masters in Human Resources because I loved the field so much I wanted to get my degree so I could progress within it.
When I decided to stay home and move closer to my husbands job so that we could have more family time together - that was also a sacrifice. I was leaving the town we had made home, local friends, being closer to our parents and my job.

However we were gaining the ability to be together more - just the 3 of us. My husband now has a 5 minute commute. If I need him during lunch time because I need a serious mommy time out - I have that. He helps grocery shop and cook and spends alone time with Katie all the time.

It's a wonderful life. I don't mean to sound braggy - but for all the sacrifices that we made, we really have a very happy and fulfilling home life. As a couple and a family.

Which brings me to the main topic (sorry... it's taking so long)

My husband and I still enjoy spending time away from our kids. I think it's important that he have the ability and desire to go out after work one night and do something JUST FOR HIM. I also think it's important that he spend alone time with our daughter - the same way I get alone time with her during the day. She calls them dates and she loves them.

On a Saturday afternoon, he might take her to the little zoo close by - just the two of them. I don't feel we have to be together every free second of every day. I don't think it's necessarily healthy. And I certainly don't think I should feel bad about being left behind in a quiet house.

My parents are amazing with Kaitlyn and will stay overnight with her and have even started taking her to their house for a few nights so we can have some peace and quiet. (especially since I've been pregnant) I don't feel bad about that. She has a GREAT TIME! She is super well prepared for the fact that when this baby comes, mommy and daddy won't be at home with her and she might be with someone else for 2 days. I think it's going to be less traumatizing than if she had NEVER stayed with anyone else.

I think as parents you are MORE THAN ENTITLED to time alone. I think that as parents you have to have an identity outside of your children. I mean, after all - you were a person before you had children weren't you? With interests and hobbies and a social life. So, I don't think that should be put entirely on hold until your kids "leave the house."

Now, I haven't left the country or even traveled away from her by plane and I don't know that we'll ever do that because I have travel issues and the thought of leaving her behind freaks me out- but I don't think that if you take a weekend to get away from your kids that it makes you less of a parent or less dedicated.

Now, if your kids are at your parents house every other day and you are out partying and never spending time with them and resent being around them - that's something else.

I'm talking about having a healthy relationship with your husband away from the kids and having some sense of personal identity that is separate from your kids. I love going away for a night and going on hikes and walks and trying new restaurants - things we do WITH and WITHOUT Katie. But, let's be honest... when is the last time you were able to sit at the bar at a local gastropub and listen to a live band that just started playing for an hour with your kids? I've never done it, but we were able to do it one night while she was with my parents and we went to dinner and the live band just kinda showed up and it was awesome.

We came home refreshed and relaxed and ready to go back to parent mode.
I don't think that I should feel bad about that and I don't think that there is anything wrong with having a life outside your kids. I personally think it's the healthier of the 2 options.

What do you think?


  1. Totally necessary - it took me awhile to balance being just "a mom" and still feeling like myself. I think that's why I kind of picked up a lot of "at home hobbies". Something Mike and I talked about after having Jake was that we needed to remember that before we had Jake and became parents we were having fun doing things just the two of us. Sometimes we forget to give ourselves time away from him because we think it's easy enough to just take him places with us - but I agree there are things you just can't enjoy with the little ones around (like stopping in a place for a drink randomly or relaxing and taking our time places). I like the daddy date thing - might have to start doing something like that around here to give the boys some more bonding time and to give myself a little break at home!

  2. Right on girl. I think it's important for Gene and I have to have our date nights. Sometime we may not be able to afford to go out and get a sitter and all that so we have to be creative at home. This weekend is Wii Bowling and dessert from a local restaurant. Sometimes it's movie and sushi night, my personal favorite. When Gene's parents snow bird in SC we take FULL advantage of the free babysitting and actually go out or even away for the weekend. It's helps us remember who we were before JC and that in the craziness of work nad child we do still love each other.
    I also think it's important to have your identity outside of your spouse as well. Gene is a volunteer at the fire department and I volunteer with Katie's Project and participate in a Mom's Group at our church. This gives us something to talk about on our dates besides "hey do you know if JC pooped today"- cause frankly nothing kills a mood like that.
    It will be a little tougher I am sure but keep up with going out once baby #2 arrives.

  3. I am all for spending alone time with the hubby! But sometimes when we cant get a babysitter or adams work schedule doesnt allow us to fit in going out time we try to put Nicolette to bed at least one night a week and eat dinner just the 2 of us. Its not as nice as going out alone but it does help that our dinner conversation doesn't involve a 2 year old! We have left her overnight with my sister but with her work schedule and having her own family it doesnt happen as often as I would like

  4. I agree that it is important to give marriage some attention, I unfortunately don't have many people who are free to watch my kids and those that are free (like my parents who are older) I don't feel comfortable leaving my kids with for long periods of time. We try to make it work the best we can doing stuff at home once the kids are asleep. We don't really feel like we are missing anything by not leaving them places to go away or anything. We have fun going on family vacations. I always thought it was hard having siblings so much older than me, but one good thing is I get a sort of "flash forward" I got to see how quickly other people's kids have grown up and realize it will be even quicker with my own. My sister is getting ready to send her kids off to college in 2 yrs and tells me regularly how she wishes she had this time back. I guess we look at it as we won't regret spending "too much" time with them, but don't want to look back at this time wishing we had spent more of it with them. So we make the personal choice and sacrafice our marriage a little to make sure we don't miss anything with them. I'm not saying we are right or wrong, it's just a personal choice that works for us. We are also very good at making sure every 6 months or so we re-evaluate our thoughts, feelings, etc to see if there is anything that one of us wants to do differently. But, for now, while the kids are small this works for us. ~Steph

  5. Christine, your comment about poop made me laugh out loud - it's so true! I have to admit - I really love talking about my kid, but it's nice to have other things to talk about and once you have kids that can be hard. It's nice to know we can go to dinner and have a real conversation every once in awhile.

    babysitters is another great topic. Being fairly new to the area still I don't have the slightest idea where to find a babysitter - so that is our next challenge once we get settled with the little man - so we can go out for a quick dinner here and there :)

    I love the conversation - thanks ladies!